Sustainable gifting for children – How to be more eco-conscious when getting presents
What do you think when hearing the word “gift”? It probably makes you feel excited, thrilled and happy with anticipation. Gifts are one of the most tangible ways people express their love and appreciation for others. Kids already learn this from a very young age, and nothing beats the sparkle in their eyes when they get to unwrap a new toy, book or lovey.
The downside is that in todays’ world we follow a path of more is more and any holiday, birthday or meaningful event in our child’s life can lead us on a spending frenzy collecting gifts.
The worst part is that this way of gifting has a dramatic impact on the environment and is not sustainable. About 90% of all toys are currently made from plastic. Out of all the toys produced 13% are never played with. 80% of all toys end up in landfills, incinerators and the ocean where they endanger marine life. Plastic toys become part of the 14 million tons of plastic that end up in the ocean each year.
But what if we would take a step back and think about the actual meaning of gifting? How we could make that gifting moment more meaningful and first and foremost more sustainable, financially, but also from an environmental point of view? They say it is the thought that counts and a personal touch makes any gift more meaningful. While you can give things, you can also give experiences and sentiment (which could be cheap in procurement, but with a high benefit for the recipient). And this also works with children already. So how do you then go about sustainable gifting for children? How to be more eco-conscious when making presents?
How to make gifting more sustainable
Sustainable gifting minimizes the use of resources in general and focuses on the use of natural, bio-degradable and reusable materials. It can involve upcycling materials that have been used before and are repurposed. It also means that artisans are supported and all workers are paid fairly. In a nutshell, a sustainable gift will help reduce waste, be eco-friendly and ethical for everyone involved in the production.
To find gifts for children that make their eyes sparkle and happy for longer, while teaching them about sustainability and minimalism try to go by the rule of 4 gifts. This ensures that you have a guide when thinking about the gifts you will get your child and stay on track with limiting the gifts.
Sustainable gifting by buying something your child wants
Usually, children have a pretty good idea about what they want. Especially if they keep talking about the same item over a longer period of time. While it might not be what we had in mind, this gift will make them happy. They get to choose and will probably play with this item longer just because it is what they wanted. Of course, you can always guide them towards eco-friendlier options.
What makes a toy eco-friendlier? The design, manufacturing and disposal of a sustainable toy is done in an environment friendly fashion. It is made of biodegradable materials, e.g. wood, cotton, bamboo, wool or recycled plastic, as well as non-toxic finishes that are not harmful to your children’s health and the environment. Sustainable toys are also designed to be more versatile and to last longer, thus reduce the need for replacements. By encouraging children to use their imagination and creativity to develop new ways of playing with them, these toys are interesting for a longer.
Finally, by purchasing sustainable toys you support ethical business practices, ensuring that fair labor standards are followed, workers are paid fair wages and the sourcing of materials is done responsibly. A cute example of a sustainable lovey, made from organic materials and gentle to your childs’ skin can be found in our MiliMilu shop.
Being eco-conscious when making presents: Buy them something they need
As children grow up, they hit milestones, develop new interested or simply outgrow their clothes or toys. You might find that around gift giving time, they need a new pair of shoes, a new swimwear or that their room needs a new coat of color. They might have outgrown their toys and need some new items to stimulate their interest and development in a more age-appropriate way. It is up to you to decide what needs to be addressed, but of course, it will be beneficial to include your child in some of the decision making.
Choosing a sustainable gift by buying them something to wear
Every child’s wardrobe has items that need updating at any point during the year. They might have outgrown some items, seasons might change or some clothes simply have hit the end of their lifetime. Involve them in choosing their new favorite clothing item and make it a gift for them. When choosing clothes for your child opt for clothes from sustainable fashion brands to make sure you have a long-lasting, timeless item that last you longer while being gentle to your child’s skin and the environment. For adorable baby clothes, girls and boys items, sustainable underwear, as well as cute accessories look no further, as MiliMilu has you covered, of course.
Eco-conscious presents for children by buying them something to read
Books are constant favorites with children, at least in our house. Books open up so many different universes to children and teach them about the magic in our world, but also about what goes on around them. Reading with your children from an early age has so many benefits for their development, such as stimulating curiosity and imagination. It also helps to develop social skills, communication skills, as well as training the ability to focus and to stimulate your child’s brain development. A real gift for their future.
On a side note: Not every gift needs to be a physical item, you could also gift experiences which requires little to no natural resources and are usually a memorable moment not only for your little one, but for the whole family. Experiences usually involve spending (bonding) time together, bring fun, learning and create memories for the years to come.
Another way of giving and at the same time teach your child about giving back to the community could be a donation to a local charity or animal welfare organization. It could involve adopting an endangered animal in your child’s name. You could also become a patron at the local zoo or animal shelter. Often these donations come with a certificate, that your child can treasure for the year to come. And you could go visit your new family member, so to speak.
Making gift giving even more sustainable
Don’t forget to look beyond the actual present and take a minute to consider the sourcing of your gift as well as its wrapping. Once you have decided on a (sustainable) gift, research where you could buy this item. Shop locally whenever possible and look for quality items that will last you longer and avoid long transportation that have a negative impact on the environment.
Did you know that most wrapping paper can’t be recycled, because it is too thin, too laminated, too saturated or too sparkly? So, about think the packaging and more so the gift wrapping of your present. Choose eco-friendly alternatives and maybe the wrapping could actually be part of the gift. Textiles, reusable paper bags or the creative use of newspaper can work magic and be sustainable at the same time.
Final thoughts on sustainable gifting for children
When in doubt about whether you want to go smaller next time when gift giving is around the corner, remember that kids are naturally curious and eager to learn about the world around them. There are many opportunities to teach them about sustainability and caring about the environment and gift giving is one of these opportunities. You might be surprised by the reaction of your child. “The best gifts are those which bring joy to the giver and the receiver – a gift that keeps on giving.”
Didn’t catch the link to all our adorable sustainable styles for babies, girls and boys? All made from organic textiles, growing with your child and giving them the most flexibility to be active and play while being gentle to their skin:
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