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How to give a sustainable gift this holiday season

We’re dreaming of a green Christmas 🎄

Seven mannequins dressed up behind a table with flat laid accessories.

Pavement sells clothes in recent styles and vintage, plus a wide selection of accessories.

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The holidays may be the most wonderful time of year, but it’s also the most wasteful. Americans generate 25% most waste than average from Thanksgiving to the New Year, and a lot of the waste has to do with our favorite tradition: gift giving.

Buying sustainable gifts doesn’t necessarily limit your options. We prepared a few of our favoriteand some reader-suggested — tips for giving eco-friendly gifts.

Thrift your gift ♻️

A thrifted gift can make for an excellent conversation starter, and comes in all different shapes and sizes. Here are a few stores fit for finding a previously used gift.

  • Half Price Books | Multiple locations | Give the gift of knowledge, in the form of used books, records, and games
  • Moss Designer Consignment | 705 S. Lamar Blvd. | Peruse through racks of luxury brands in-store or vitually from your couch.
  • Pavement | Multiple locations | Sort through vintage and recent styles at this local chain, which is famous for its fill-a-bag sales.
  • The RealReal | 11700 Domain Blvd. | This online authenticated luxury “recommerce” company now has a brick and mortar in the Domain.
  • Recycled Reads | 5335 Burnet Rd. | This bookstore sells the Austin Public Library’s weeded material, often for just a few dollars apiece.
  • Uncommon Objects | 1602 Fort View Rd. | If you’re in the market for an antique, or maybe just something a little bizarre, stop into this local legacy store.
  • Uptown Cheapskate | Multiple locations | This mini-chain offers gently used, yet recent, fashion trends and accessories.

You can also visit the City-wide Vintage Sale Saturday, Dec. 10 -Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Palmer Events Center for a full market comprised of used goodies.

Make your gift 🪡

You can’t buy love, but you can make something to show it. Consider unleashing your inner artist by making gifts for you loved ones — starting with Pinterest if you need some inspiration.

Bonus points if you buy your material from Austin Creative Reuse, located on 2005 Wheless Ln., where you can find reclaimed and used art supplies for quite literally pennies on the dollar. This spot is a favorite of reader Sheila G.

Wrap your gifts with something reusable 🎀

Not only does wrapping gifts in something non-disposable help cut down on waste, but it has the potential to look even better than something traditionally gift wrapped.

Use fabric scraps, tote bags, ribbons, or anything that can be stored away for future use. If you choose traditional gift bags or wrap, encourage the recipient to reuse them. Some stores, like Lush, sell gift wrap made from recycled paper or cotton that can be used dozens of times.

Dispose of waste properly 🗑

It’s inevitable to have some waste, but you can still dispose of it thoughtfully. Make sure you know your local recycling guidelines and utilize the Austin Reuse Directory to find ways to dispose of miscellaneous objects.

Reader Judith F. recommends using Austin-based company Ridwell to responsibly dispose of hard-to-recycle items like batteries, lightbulbs, fabric scraps, and more. The company will pick up the items from your doorstep and redirect them to local nonprofits to either be recycled or upcycled for a monthly fee of $12-16.

Have a green holiday, Austinites!