Work & Money·Posted on Nov 20, 2022"I'm Sick Of Giving People Things They Don't Want": 10 Ways To Have A More Sustainable, Less Wasteful Holiday SeasonAren't we all sick of giving each other body lotion and Dollar Store stocking stuffers?by karaperezBuzzFeed ContributorFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink Tis the season...of spending a lot of money on a bunch of stuff. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Starbucks / Via giphy.com With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas coming up, a lot of us have a lot of eating, drinking, and gift giving ahead of us. And that comes with a price — environmental and monetary. I'm sick of giving people things they don't want. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF All BLK / Via giphy.com I actually love giving people gifts. It's fun to show love to family and friends, but during the holiday season, we have a lot of obligations to give gifts. And that means a lot of us default to generic crap that no one really wants. Picture frames, body lotions, candles from TJ Maxx...it's not quite the quality gift giving that comes from the heart. A 2016 study found that Americans throw away $16 billion in gifts each year. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Pew Charitable Trust / Via giphy.com All of these obligation gifts aren't appreciated by our loves ones. They're thrown into the garbage! And they end up in the ocean, probably strangling some poor tortoise just trying to get his float on, or in the landfill. Gift giving is a part of the reason Americans produce 3x as much garbage as the global average. As a sustainable finance pro, it drives me up a wall to have an entire season dedicated to creating even more waste. View this video on YouTube youtube.com I help people spend and invest sustainably, but the most difficult time of year to do that is from October-December. There are multiple holidays, school obligations, gift giving occasions, and often, a need to travel. Money can just flow out of our wallets, even if we don't want to spend on certain things. Let's all agree to stop giving people literal garbage from now on. Especially when everything is so expensive! Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Nog / Via giphy.com The “food at home” index was up 13% from September 2021 to September 2022. Things like butter are up 32.2% in that same timeframe, and eggs cost 30.5% more now than they did in September '21. Life is too expensive to be buying gifts and food that people will just throw out! This holiday season, we're giving gifts and eating foods that *actually fit* into our budgets. Here are 10 ways to start: 1. When it comes to food, try a vegetarian main dish for holiday dinners. Kathryne Taylor / Via cookieandkate.com Meat is expensive AF right now, and it's largely an unsustainable dinner choice due to the land and water required to grow food for livestock. Lower your holiday food costs and your environmental impact by upping your veggie options at dinner. This butternut squash risotto from Cookie + Kate makes a great main dish that is savory and affordable. 2. Follow Reduce, Reuse, Recycle as a gift-giving guide. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Bhumi Pednekar / Via giphy.com Can we all agree there's nothing wrong with re-gifting? If someone can't or won't use something, getting it into the hands of someone who will is keeping that item from being clutter or getting tossed into the trash. Reduce both spending and waste by looking to regift, use items you already have to make a present, or give something that can be repurposed. 3. Sustainable living blogger Jhánneu suggests giving kids gifts that can teach them about sustainability. View this video on YouTube youtube.com She tells BuzzFeed that an indoor garden kit is a great starting point. These kind of gifts encourage a connection to nature and give kids an activity to work on, rather than some plastic toy they'll get bored of in one week. If toys aren't your kid's thing, a family trip to a location they really desire is another option! 4. Have honest conversations about changing how your family gives gifts. View this photo on Instagram Instagram: @sustainthemag Reza, founder of Sustain the Mag, tells BuzzFeed that families don't have to stop giving gifts; try exploring new avenues instead. "One way to help shift the consumerism mindset around holidays with family is by sharing alternatives to gift buying and giving. Ultimately, experiences will last a lifetime, cherishing time with a love one from a nice home cooked meal, going to a museum together, or doing an activity like a pottery class. Quality time is great for long-lasting memories!" 5. Burn plant-based candles, instead of petroleum. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Buzzfeed / Via giphy.com Paraffin wax candles are made from petroleum. Plant-based candles, such as soy candles, produce less soot and have a smaller environmental impact. Light your menorah with plant-based candles, and skip the plastic dreidels, for a more earth-friendly holiday. 6. Try upcycling your gifts this year. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF NBC / Via giphy.com Speaking of repurposing, try upcycling gifts. Upcycling broadly refers to taking an item and finding a new way to use it. Try turning that extra glass jar into a homemade candle, or breathe new life into old T-shirts by turning them into rice heating pads. 7. Step away from the $20 gift limits for workplace gift exchanges. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Game News / Via giphy.com $20 ain't what it used to be. With inflation and rising costs of goods, there are very few desirable gifts you can find for under $20. (I totally understand these lower limits often come from being budget conscious.) But instead, save everyone involved money, and opt for a community-building activity. An office potluck with each person's favorite family recipe, or an office ugly sweater challenge is a way for people to use what they already have and to build workplace community. 8. Talk to family about having a more sustainable family gathering. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Fox / Via giphy.com You can do this in a lot of ways: making sure the Christmas tree gets turned into firewood instead of thrown away, carpooling to family dinners, or offsetting your flights with carbon offsets. Focus on the biggest areas, like food, travel, and gift giving. No one expects perfection! 9. Decorate with more environmentally friendly holiday decor. View this photo on Instagram Instagram: @sustainyrself The sisters behind the Instagram account Sustain Yourself tell BuzzFeed that, "Holiday decor can have a massive environmental impact, especially when it's not reused for further holidays." For a more environmentally friendly bit of holiday cheer, try using compostable items. "One great decoration is baking orange slices and stringing them on twine to put on your tree, mantel, or across windows — you can also do this with dried cranberries, and compost them at the end of the holiday season. If you want a Christmas tree, make sure you check if your city offers Christmas tree disposal services via compost, or consider thrifting a fake tree to reuse every Christmas for years to come," says the duo. 10. And finally, choose a sustainable option, or skip the wrapping paper altogether. Elmar Gubisch / Getty Images/iStockphoto Most wrapping paper cannot be recycled because of the dye, glitter, or metallic additives. Instead, try the brown paper wrap that is recyclable, newspaper is a way of reusing what you've got, or something like a bandana that the recipient can use again. What tips do you have to have a more sustainable holiday season this year? Share them in the comments!