Giving the gift of sustainability

Back in the 1970s, the camera and film company Kodak ran a series of television commercials with the tagline “Give the gift that keeps on giving.” The idea was to convince consumers that buying a camera for someone you loved was a way to perpetuate the act of gift giving. Every picture taken with a camera was a gift of its own. A camera wasn’t a single gift; a camera was a thousand gifts stretching into the future.

That idea – a gift that creates other gifts across the years – seems to have become particularly important in 2024. Consumers, especially young adults, want to give and receive gifts that provide benefits years into the future. The difference is that today’s idea of a gift that keeps on giving is one where the beneficiary isn’t the original recipient, it’s the planet itself.

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Gifts can be notoriously bad for the environment. How many of us have received something we didn’t want or couldn’t use, and simply discarded it? How many of us purchased something that was ill-fitting or ill-suited for someone else? Landfills are the final resting place for far too many gifts that were never of use to anyone. 

And every one of those poorly chosen gifts consumed resources during manufacturing, burned fuel when being transported to a store, came wrapped in plastic or paper or cardboard or something similar also likely wound up in a landfill.

A sustainable gift, by contrast, is one where the waste is minimized and usage is maximized. That may mean a piece of apparel made with renewable, natural materials like cotton. Or it may mean a toy made of wood or recycled plastic. Perhaps it means something wrapped in minimal packaging and delivered by bicycle from a local store. Or it could mean an e-book, online course or other digital item lacking entirely in any physical presence that might need to be thrown away.

A sustainable gift may also be something made by a company that is itself committed to sustainability: whether that’s by using only renewable materials, embracing low-carbon production and/or eschewing air freight and opting for rail shipping. Thousands of companies today are committed to giving more to the planet than they take.

A sustainable holiday gift

A few years ago, Anya Cheng, co-founder of Taelor, wrote an article for Unsustainable magazine about ways to reduce the environmental impact of gift-giving during the holiday season. Anya, who once led ecommerce teams at Target, wrote that consumers often “spend unnecessary amounts of money on last-minute gift items just for the sake of having something physical to present.” That can be bad for the planet, Anya wrote, because “last-minute shopping almost always demands a greater sacrifice from the environment …last-minute gifts tend to get returned, exchanged, or even just forgotten or never used.” 

Sustainable gift-giving, by contrast, often involves forethought. Simply having multiple items shipped together, rather than separately, can make a difference. At Taelor, we provide curated gifting ideas for our customers during each holiday season, aiming to be a one-stop shop where our members can find the best gifts and dress stylishly for any special occasion. 

Taelor partners with selected brands offering men's accessories, women's jewelry, and flower bouquets for each holiday season. A hassle-free and sustainable gift-preparing experience sounds good? Explore more at our Taelor Gifting Page.

And of course, among the most sustainable of gifts are those that can be delivered digitally – gift cards in particular are a wise choice for the environmentally conscious. They have a minimal environmental footprint and, since the gift recipient is empowered to make their own selection, the chance that a gift will be tossed into a landfill is lowered.

Sustainable partnership

Perhaps the easiest way to give a sustainable gift is to do business only with companies that are committed to sustainability. That’s not hard to do in this era. Some companies have created business models that foster sustainability in and of themselves. Taelor, for example, is a clothing rental subscription company. By allowing a piece of clothing to be worn by multiple people in succession, Taelor is able to extend the lifetime of every garment. 

Renting clothes also dramatically reduces the amount of fuel that a guy uses to travel to and from retail stores.

Many companies, including lots of the apparel manufacturers that Taelor partners with, have committed to using only renewable materials like cotton or wool … or more surprisingly: cinnamon or coffee grounds

The truth is that sustainability can, and should, be part of your gift giving. Choose your gifts wisely and both the recipient and the planet itself will say what we always long to hear when we give a gift: “Thank you! I love it.”

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