It is the most joyous time of the year! One that sees gatherings and giving on a global scale. But underneath the shiny wrapping of the festivities is the fact that all those parties and presents mean fun and love sure, but also substantially more waste.
Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage or about 1 million extra tons per week!
While I am not advocating that we abandon the rituals and traditions that this season makes so special to our lives, and frankly the last two years have meant that I am all about seeking joy as much as possible.
So this post is about gifts that can be given that reduce waste and increase joy, and hopefully also support local businesses along the way. The businesses mentioned are my personal favorites and not paid endorsements.
Giving a subscription along with a present extends the gift-giving season all year long. There are lots of options out there in the world, but here are a few of my local favorites for kids/parents, nature lover, and fitness fan.
Melrose company The Toyary wants to help you revolutionize the way your kids play. They believe there’s a more sustainable, convenient, and community-driven way for children to access learning and inclusive-based toys and games without the personal cost, clutter, or commitment. Membership gives access to more than 500 indoor/outdoor toys/games and growing and will grow with children as opposed to a handful of toys that they might usually be gifted. We recently used The Toyary for a party pack rental which was a big hit at our kid's playground birthday party. https://thetoyary.com/
Gardens and Roads
This Medford floral designer is known for her beautiful weddings arrangements but also offers fantastic flower subscriptions. Flowers can come in a vase or a bouquet (wrapped in paper or burlap) scheduled every other week, monthly, quarterly, or on a customized frequency. She also offers a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) option for exclusively locally grown flowers. I got this subscription for Christmas last year and it was a wonderful treat every month.
Theresa and Mike want you to love working out, they want you to feel supported and find joy in fitness. Reimagym is a small, appointment-only fitness studio that offers a variety of options to fit your needs and with a focus on body positive functional fitness that will help you achieve your personal goals. They have a Holiday Party of Fitness, a 14-day trial membership available. This is currently on my own gift list, so fingers crossed I was a good girl this year!
I hope that we are beginning to see that buying a used or second-hand gift should be celebrated, I will never understand why "vintage" is ok but "used" is not. Buying something you think will be loved, from someone who no longer needs it is economical and sustainable living at the core. So take a tour of your favorite charity shop or library book sale (with the bonus of giving to a good cause too) or view your local "Everything is Free" or "Buy Nothing Project" social media groups, to pick up a great gift, but you can also check out these two local twists to the second-hand store.
The concept of this Medford-based clothing store is "A wardrobe without compromise." Stephanie and her staff are passionate about helping women+ create a wardrobe that doesn't force you to choose between what you love, your budget, or your values. Buying second-hand clothing helps reduce waste but when you get personalized styling too, it is more than a good deal, it is an experience to treasure. Swap It could also be housed under Subscriptions, as they have wonderful options to give to others and yourself. I have been a customer for years and love to give the gift of style without giving up my commitment to living more sustainably.
This little pop-up bookstore is located inside 4GoodVibes Gift Shop in South Medford (see Handmade gifts below). It features gently-used graphic novels, picture, and chapter books. Proceeds from sales help fund their Little Free Diverse Library located outside the store, and diverse literacy initiatives in our community. Custom orders are available and are always on point. https://book-wonder.business.site/
The classic green gift is something handmade by you, be it a beloved recipe, special treat, or woolen scarf, what you are giving of course is your time and effort, which is at the heart of a handmade gift.
This year try to make your food gift packaging even greener with compostable or recycling packaging or perhaps a container that the recipient can reuse the rest of the year.
Memory or heirloom gifts are always extra special and a great way to upcycle items. Like making a photo transfer onto a glass or mug. Let's bring those family moments into our everyday.
There are the wonderful wearable gifts of the season that always bring warmth and comfort, and sometimes laughter. My grandmother was a wonderful knitter and we all got an Aran Jumper from her at some point in our lives, but when my Mum tried to carry on the traditional we soon found out the knitting gene did not pass down and some hilarious creations were gifted instead. This year try looking for locally made or recycled materials for your wearable gifts.
But if crating is just not your jam, then the next best thing is to buy handmade items from someone else. There are lots of small businesses made up of people crafting lovely things just perfect for someone on your list. Check out 4GoodVibes in Medford for an excellent selection of unique handcrafted and artisan gifts. Remember, you are supporting your neighbors when you buy locally.
Finally, there are gift certificates to local services, stores, and restaurants that bring experiences and sometimes things we really need They also keep our friends, neighbors, and communities thriving. So give them a facial at Page Aesthetics, a bagel breakfast from Goldilox, a lunch at Simple Fare, or a dinner out at Semolina, give them some beer from Medford Brewing Company or gin from Short Path, give them rock climbing, kickboxing, or yoga, or give them dog walking, house cleaning or simply a can of paint from the local hardware store to finish a project. The bottom line is that there are so many great options right here in our backyard that will make the holidays sing just a little sweeter for everyone.
So these are my ideas for green local giving this year. What are some of yours? Mention your favorites in the comments and let's widen the options and ideas for all of us, maybe you will help me and someone else their new favorite place!