Avoid mass waste this Black Friday


environmental fridays

Kelly Walker

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, everyone seems ready for the Christmas season, especially with all of this unprecedented cold weather.  Conveniently, today is Black Friday: the day that we can all take advantage of the deals and steals that we’ve heard about constantly for the past month or so.  It’s the perfect time to save money on the gifts we’re expected to buy for everyone we care about this Christmas. 

Or is it?

Daily consumerism alone contributes to an extraordinary amount of waste from all of the unnecessary plastic packaging, the tons of wasted food sent to the landfill and the energy and fossil fuels required to create and transport products.  It’s difficult to imagine the wastefulness that is thrown on top of these daily problems during the holiday season, from extravagantly wasteful meals to cheaply made toys that will be thrown away in the next year. 

While Black Friday can be a strategic time to save as much money as possible during this expensive season, I propose that we choose the more mindful route from now on. Here are some gift ideas for this year that are not only more eco-friendly, but also a little easier on the college budget.

Repurposed: Think about repurposing old, unwanted gifts from past holidays that are gathering dust in your closet. If you’re not sure where to begin with gifts this year, this idea gives you a creative starting place and will bring new life to unwanted material.

Homemade: Try creating something that you know your friends or family will love and actually use. Think of your personal talents and find a way to creatively apply those talents to your gifts this year. If you’re artistically inclined, try designing homemade cards with personalized messages and drawings. If you’re a little less artistically inclined, try some easy step-by-step recipes for practical things online, like homemade soap, bath salts, candles, or lip balm. Homemade gifts are a great option because you avoid most of the excessive plastic packaging, you’ll tend to save a significant amount financially, and yet the gift will hold much more value than a store-bought one.

Consumable: I don’t know anyone who would reject food as a gift. This is a really easy and practical gift idea. If you enjoy cooking or baking, this is your time to shine. Cook or bake your loved ones’ favorite dish, snack, or dessert this year. If you don’t particularly enjoy cooking, you can always get creative with beautiful containers and the bulk section of a grocery store. One of my favorite gift ideas is finding a rustic jar or beautiful pitcher and filling the container with someone’s favorite candy or snack, which completely avoids packaging and provides two gifts in one! 

This year, let’s challenge ourselves to give with our hearts rather than our wallets. Not only are sustainable gift options more environmentally conscious and cost-effective, but they are also an opportunity to slow down and thoughtfully use objects as expressions of our heart and soul. In this season of stress and chaos, let’s be intentional about how we express our love for one another and our precious planet.