In Lieu of Presents This Year

It’s that time of year again, which means great-aunts and cousins everywhere are currently asking you what you’d like for Christmas — and you’ll be wondering exactly what to get everyone on your own list. Here are a few different (green) approaches you can take over the holidays:

Don’t want anything? Ask for donations in lieu of gifts


The older I get, the more I’m prone to just buying what I need when I need it, so there’s really not much I want when holidays and birthdays come along. However, grandparents and siblings can be very insistent on gifting things, so I’m taking a new approach this year and suggesting donations to charities that I care about.

Recommending donations for a favourite charity is a great waste-free way to make a tangible difference — and, of course, it comes with the added benefit of giving you a sneaky self-righteous boost 😉. So if someone asks for ideas for Christmas, you can say something along the lines of:

“There’s nothing I really need this year, and I’m trying to cut back on the amount of waste I produce, so please don’t buy me anything. However, if you really want to get me something, I’d love it if you made a donation to X or Y organization.”

If you need some ideas to fill in those X or Y blanks, here are some great non-profits working on behalf of a greener world:

Do want something, but trying to stay zero waste? Speak up

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Hey, gifting season is awesome, especially if you actually do have a few things you need. But to keep waste minimal, make sure you’re honest with people about what you’d actually like. If people ask for gift ideas, give them a few suggestions off your “need” or “really want” list. Bonus points if it’s something waste-free, like an experience (dinner at your favourite restaurant, tickets to a show, bungee jumping if you’re insane) or an emailed gift certificate to a shop you love or an airline you fly with frequently.

Nobody needs more wasteful shit to re-gift. No👏bo👏dy👏.

Zero-waste gift ideas for the awesome (or less awesome) people on your list

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Okay, so you can’t just gift everyone donations to cool charities — unless you know they’d love that — so here are a few zero-waste/lower-waste gift ideas instead.

  • Consider buying someone an experience: craft beer tours, paint-and-drink nights, tickets to a great theatre or music show, etc.
  • Get someone a gift certificate, so they don’t have to go exchange or pass on your crappy gift (hey, you may have worse taste than you realize).
  • For the skincare/beauty lovers in your life, try these shops:
    • Lush makes amazing package-free bath bombs, lotions, soaps, shampoo & conditioner bars, perfumes, and more. They also sell cute reusable cloth wraps that can serve as wrapping paper. Boom! Gift done.
    • Elate is a great brand based out of Vancouver that makes cosmetics in sustainable packaging.
  • Fancy liquor (in fancy glass bottles) for the fancy schmoozers in your life.
  • Delicious foods (jams, crazy mustards, cookies, etc.) in fancy glass containers for, well, pretty much anyone.
  • Want to introduce them to a zero-waste lifestyle in a convenient, all-in-one box? Get in touch with me at Give a Shit is launching a pilot for an awesome box that introduces people to living a more sustainable lifestyle, and it’s going to make the perfect Christmas present. (I promise I’m not biased.)

I won’t go into detail about how to wrap your gifts without waste, since a bunch of people have already done a better, craftier, prettier job of that.

Happy holidays!

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