Sustainability Committee's Holiday Gift Guide!


If you still haven't finished your holiday shopping, the Sustainability Committee is here to help with a series of economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable gifting ideas! 

  • Give your family and friends experiences rather than stuff! A class, a massage, a meal at a nice restaurant, a new exercise activity, or tickets to a concert, play, or comedy show are gifts with a low carbon footprint that boosts the local economy. There are lots of musicians and comics on tour again after time off during the pandemic and they could use your ticket sales! Think about supporting a woman- and/or Black-owned business in your community that offers classes that your friends and family may enjoy.
  • Memberships and subscriptions are another meaningful (and sustainable) gift that keeps on giving. What a good way to support your local arts and culture organizations or your favorite newspaper, radio station, or podcast! Climate Newsletters that you can subscribe to include: “Heated,” “Distilled,” “Volts.” There is also a lot of community to be found around sustainable living. If you have someone crafty on your list, consider getting them a membership to a Maker’s Space.
  • Support local artists by attending art fairs in your area and purchasing their work. Unique works of art are often more affordable than you might think (economically sustainable for you) and are a very meaningful gift.
  • Donations in a loved one’s name is another meaningful and sustainable way to gift. Donations are not only environmentally sustainable but can go to supporting organizations that work to create social sustainability or advocate for politically impactful causes. Remember, one of the best things we can do to combat climate change is to vote, so anything that starts a conversation about political activism is a great gift.
  • If you do want to purchase items, shopping secondhand can be an environmentally and economically sustainable way to gift. You’d be surprised at what treasures can be found on sites like Poshmark, The Real Real, ThredUp, or A Thrifty Notion. Some of these sites offer gift cards so you can let someone know about a sustainable shopping website while giving them a gift. Secondhand bookstores are also great to support and often have gift cards as well.
  • Another great way to spread the word about sustainable living and support your local economy is by supporting a zero-waste shop (also known as refilleries). Zero waste shops are popping up all over the country in cities and towns large and small. Litterless provides state-by-state guides of where to shop zero waste. Most places offer gift cards and sell some very nice things in addition to the basics.
  • If you are keen on recycling unusual materials, TerraCycle has a blog with all sorts of zero waste boxes for people with different interests.
  • The SC is excited for two new sustainability reads for cultural heritage professionals: The Arts and Humanities on Environmental and Climate Change by Sarah Sutton and Low Cost/No Cost Tips for Sustainability in Cultural Heritage: Reduce Your Impact on the Planet by Lorraine Finch, available as an ebook! Either of these would make a great gift for any conservator or cultural heritage professional who is concerned about the climate.
  • If you do want to purchase gifts, beware of greenwashing. Everything that is produced has a carbon footprint, and “sustainable” items such as reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, or metal lunch boxes are no exception. Make sure your gift recipients will find these items useful. If you use a reusable item repeatedly, the environmental impact is reduced; if you just put them in a closet or throw them out after just a few uses, no good is accomplished. Edible gifts are a sustainable way to fill a stocking and remember to shop local and support businesses owned by women and people of color when you are making purchases.

Gift Wrapping
For tips on sustainable gift wrapping see this article on using Furoshiki wrap for a gift around a gift. Bees wrap could be a pretty and reusable gift wrap, too!

Happy Holidays and cheers to a sustainable 2023 from the AIC Sustainability Committee!