It’s the most commercial time of the year, and people are gearing up for some major shopping and the accompanying credit card debt. As your Steward, I am here to show you there is a more excellent way.

The person you are shopping for does not really want that item. If they really wanted it, they would have purchased it already.

Gifts cause anxiety. Did I give you with something of similar value? Did I give you something at all? I really like the way this article describes the dilemma.

Besides the social anxiety around gift giving, I feel guilty whenever I purchase something because of how it impacts the environment. This video talks about the true cost of gasoline when people drive. Pollution starts at the drilling site, then the oil is shipped in tankers that also create pollution. Giant polluting trucks take the oil from the tankers to the gas stations. Fumes seep out when the oil is pumped in and out of the gas station, where you’ve driven your car to fill up with gas to pollute even more.

This all applies to gift giving and then some.  Factories in places like China, Mexico, and Bangladesh pollute the environment around them.  The goods they produce in bulk are shipped overseas to consumer countries like Canada, Australia, the UK, and America. Giant trucks drive across the country delivering these products to stores around the country that you drive to in your gas-guzzling car to purchase. That’s not even all of it! Raw materials are mined out of the ground to build those factories. More raw materials and chemicals are mined and pollute the water and air to make the cheap crap we all buy, and it’s not even cheap! When you factor in all the damage our consumer culture is doing, the artificially low costs are suddenly a lot higher.

I HATE having that on my conscience.

If you *need* to give a gift, not because your intended recipient needs something (they don’t), but because it’s a *you* thing then the best thing to do is to create as little impact with your gift as possible. Also, you should really work on that.

  • Support small businesses. There is a really great store in my town that sources and imports handmade alpaca and wool goods. I received an alpaca teddy bear as a baby shower present. That gift was especially thoughtful because a) it’s made from natural materials and has no dyes, b) the money from that purchase stays in town and supports the local economy instead of going to a corporation based somewhere else, c) the money that does leave the community goes to artisans making beautiful, handmade goods.

  • Repair something they already own. I have a few necklaces I haven’t taken in for repairs yet. I have an awesome pair of purple shoes that could use reinforcing. My great-grandmother’s skirt suit is perfectly wearable except for the button-hole. If you fix something I love enough to save despite never using it is three gifts in one. You would be taking something off my to-do list. You would be “giving” me the use of the item that’s been taking up space. You would be supporting a local craftsman, which is a gift to the whole community!

  • Spend time with them. Experiences over material possessions. I told my family I am skipping the commercialism of Christmas. No gifts to or from your Steward this year. I’ll be at the Christmas Eve party, and I can’t wait to decorate the yard with cranberries and popcorn I will string with my little nephew so the birds can have a winter treat. That is more important to me than a gingerbread scented lotion/candle gift pack.

 

  • Donate money in someone’s name. Using the strictest definition of the word “need”, what I really need is clean food, water and air in the next 20 years. I’m willing to bet that’s something you could use as well. Everyone I know can use a gift like that, now that I’m thinking about it. Pick a cause, do some research, and enjoy the gift yourself for the rest of your life.