Sucker punch the spirit of consumerism this Christmas

Christmas ornament graphic

Brianna Stanley

We’re almost at the time when UK students gratefully crash-land into winter break. Personally, there is always one thing that delays my post-finals hibernation: procrastinated Christmas shopping.

I’m a strong advocate of making, baking, or thrifting gifts, as these are often the kindest options to the environment and our wallets. Unfortunately, finals are even later than usual this year; if you find yourself in a time-crunch or are artistically challenged (as I am), here are some last-minute gift ideas that are good for the environment and will keep you from idling in pre-Christmas Nicholasville Road traffic.

1) For someone you want to force to spend more time with you: Give experiences! A ticket to a show, movie, or concert allows for quality bonding time and can support local artists and venues (such as the iconic Kentucky Theater).

2) For the thrifting enthusiast/friend born in the wrong decade: Peddler’s mall, Street Scene, Goodwill and Pop’s Resale are the staple thrift stores of Lexington. You could have fun sifting through vintage knick-knacks, records and clothing yourself or you could make your friend a homemade gift card. Feeling extra cheap? A handful of quarters equals a handful of ski-ball games at the 80s-themed Burl Arcade.

3) For the friend who is angry about their apartment’s “no pets” rule: Symbolically “adopt” an animal in their name to support wildlife conservation through the World Wildlife Fund. The person you buy it for gets an adoption certificate and a small stuffed animal they can pretend is real.

4) For the Appalachian Mountains admirer: The Nature Conservancy gives the option of sponsoring conservation in the central Appalachia region. (And then they will send you free address labels and calendars forever, much like the National Parks Service.)

5) For the personal hygiene enthusiast: Ever heard of a loofah gourd? It’s a loofah sponge… made out of a gourd. Personally, I’m amazed and cannot think of a cooler, weirder gift, especially if you give them seeds to grow it themselves. Other eco-friendly toiletries include bamboo toothbrushes, stainless steel safety razors, and Diva Cups or Thinx underwear for any female friend you’re close enough to for that kind of gift not to be weird.

6) For the friend who drinks water: The Guppyfriend washing bag prevents microplastic pollution from being released when you do your laundry. Super cool product with a super cool purpose — keeping everything from dying.

7) For the friend with the empty new apartment: Check out local markets for art, such as the Michler’s Christmas Market or the Shaker Village craft store. If you must shop online, sites like Eartheasy pledge to plant a tree for every purchase made.

8) For the tech-lover: Avoid buying from companies that plan for their products to fail in a certain amount of time or source rare-earth metals unethically and unsustainably. That’s most tech companies out there but there are some better choices, like wooden headphones, solar chargers, or 3D printed sunglasses from recycled plastic.

9) For the traveler: Carbon offsets! A great way to relieve the guilt of the environmentally conscious traveler or let other travelers know that they should be guilty. You can both give the gift of guilt and take it away again. Lovely.

10) For the hard-to-buy-for: Face it, you have no idea what to get them so just get them something you would want. If not a Loofah gourd, then maybe a minimalist kit, shoes made from a yoga mat, a reusable mug to use at coffee shops, or fancy bulk tea from local stores like Good Foods Co-op or Coffee Times. This may or may not be my Christmas list.

A quick google search will turn up many more environmentally friendly versions of products that you may already have in mind (but beware of Greenwashing).

It’s my philosophy that every gift should be environmentally friendly. After all, a gift to one person shouldn’t be something that harms another — that takes the joy out of it.

I hope that my fellow UK gift-buying procrastinators will join me in making these holidays less about useless stuff, and more about meaningful gifts that contribute to a better world.