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Consider your environmental impact this holiday season

By Aisla Ross

PUBLISHED November 7, 2023 • 5 min read

Whether you’re committed to reducing your own environmental impact or looking for thoughtful gifts for your climate-conscious friends, these suggestions prioritize the well-being of the planet.

Whether you’re committed to reducing your own environmental impact or looking for thoughtful gifts for your climate-conscious friends, these suggestions — ranging from unique thrift store finds to bigger investments like the perfect e-bike — prioritize the well-being of the planet, making them both meaningful and impactful.

And to give this holiday a little extra sparkle, you can get great discounts and points offers with Avion Rewards when you shop at stores featured in this article.

1. Low-waste beauty products

Notice Hair is a female-owned, Alberta-based company known for its 100% vegan and cruelty-free solid shampoo bars for curly hair, fine hair, men’s hair, baby’s hair…and just about every other hair type. Their bars all come without excess packaging — and they’re completely plastic free.

And for beauty needs beyond haircare, there’s Zero Waste Movement. Find natural bar soaps that smell like bergamot and mint (thanks to added essential oils), and other great gift items like sleek, brass-handled unisex razors where the metal blades are replaceable and the rest is for keeps. You’ll also find natural loofahs, bamboo makeover pads that can be used again and again, and bamboo toothbrushes.

2. Low-waste ideas for the kitchen

On the Zero Waste Movement site, you can find all sorts of kitchen items like solid dish bars, bamboo dishwashing sets, bamboo cutlery sets for traveling with, long-lasting dishcloths made from cellulose wood pulp, and loofah sponges to replace those yellow and green plastic ones you likely grew up washing with. It really is a whole new world out there.

If you’re looking for a bigger-ticket item, check out the British Columbia-based company Lomi  and its home food composters. Designed to sit on the kitchen counter, they’re easy to use. In essence, you just add your veggie peelings from dinner into the Lomi, press the button and — with the help of a little heat — in a few hours your food waste will have transformed into nutrient-rich plant food pellets that you can add to the soil you’re growing your vegetables, herbs, and flowers in.

According to the company, using a Lomi over the course of a year can prevent emissions equivalent to powering a gasoline car for 576 miles — so it really is an ideal climate-conscious gift option.

3. Low-emissions travel options

If someone close to you has been dropping hints about how they’re ready to commute by e-bike or e-scooter, then perhaps it’s time to help them get to it. Of course, regular scooters and bicycles make for great gifts too. Best Buy has a range of products as well as buying guides to help you decide on the best options. Or, if your loved one is in the city and bikes and scooters just aren’t their thing, a monthly transit pass is a practical gift that promotes the use of public transportation.

Read more: Our guide to buying an electric bike

4. Thrifted gift ideas

If you’ve an eye for unique finds, check out the local thrift stores, antique shops, or online platforms for thoughtful items, like a first edition of a loved one’s favourite book, or a perfect cast-iron pan if they love cooking up new dishes. Of course, you’ll want to make it clear that this is a vintage gift when you’re handing over your present — and you’ll want to make sure you’re gifting to someone who loves second-hand finds as much as you, as there’s still some stigma there.

Read more: How to find what you’re looking for at the thrift store

5. Go for experiences instead of things

Cooking and mixology classes, spa days, and concert tickets are great ways to gift someone with lasting memories without adding to material consumption. Other ideas might be a voucher for a favourite local restaurant or café, or a pass for the yoga or spin studio you know has their favourite teachers.

6. Donate to a cause you know they care about

Whether it’s sponsoring a conservation group that puts wildlife at the heart of what they do, or planting trees in your friend’s name, supporting a cause that’s dear to them is a special way of showing you care.

7. Make (or bake) your gifts

If you’re a crafty sort, filling a photo album full of shared special moments is a truly thoughtful gift . Or if you want to go bigger (and more delicious), a curated food hamper filled with deli-style items that you’ve enjoyed together in the past is a great idea (thrift stores often have straw baskets for sale for a few dollars, so buy a few if you want to make a bunch of hampers). You could also make hamper items in the kitchen: think flavoured liqueurs, salts, and oils — and maybe a few sweet things that will keep, such as home-baked granola, chocolate truffles, and peanut brittle.

8. Gift the gift of reusable wrapping

If you already have a bunch of gift bags stored in the closet, then make it easier for your loved ones to reuse them by not writing on the tags they come with (instead, make your own tag and pop it inside the bag ). Or try your hand at furoshiki—the Japanese art of wrapping items in attractive fabric that can then be used again and again. When it comes to trying your hand at furoshiki for the first time, again, DIY videos will be your friend.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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