Ethical Gift Giving

The holiday season is typically synonymous with gift-giving. While it can bring joy to share in something special with those you care about, ensuring that your gift is ethical is a daunting and stressful task. Especially for young adults and college students, environmentally friendly and ethically sourced gifts can be out of our price range. But that doesn’t mean we should give in to supporting businesses that exploit workers and are harmful to the environment. There are a few things you can do to give as ethically as possible while keeping your budget modest. 

Buy Local

Buying local ensures that about $58 of every $100 stays in our local economy, supporting those who work, live and create in our community. Specific stores that stock only local artisans, like Made in KC, recirculate over $93 of every $100 back into the local economy. As well, most local producers employ local workers, ensuring that these workers are receiving a fair wage and, usually, worker’s protection. With this money, you are helping boost all the people in your community, and ensuring that your money helps the areas that affect you most – likely the easiest way you will ever help your community, even if it is indirect. 

By shopping local you are helping decrease environmental harm. There are typically fewer emissions and waste associated with shipping and high-level production. You can also opt-out of extra packaging or bagging when you shop local, reducing waste even further. 

Though it can be a bit tougher to shop local, a good tip is to find what you’re looking for, even if you first spot it on a large corporation’s website. Then, do a bit of research to find who is producing something similar or selling that product in your local community. That said, you have even more leeway without a list. Go to your favorite local shops and look around until you find the perfect gift that seems to just scream “I’m meant for your loved one.” This ensures that you’re supporting local producers and sellers, better practices and showing your loved one you care by giving them a personal and thoughtful gift. If you’re having trouble thinking of what stores to go to, check out this guide

Buy Secondhand

Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, consignment boutiques, secondhand bookstores, the occasional garage sale. These are just a few ways that you can give ethical gifts while shopping secondhand. 

Buying secondhand ensures little to no environmental harm. You are giving the product a second (or 100th) life and keeping shipping, production and packaging emissions next to none. These stores are, once again, hyper-local in that the products come from and are sold by the local community – so you will reap the ethical benefits from that. 

Sourcing a gift from a secondhand store also makes it more special: you scoured stores for the perfect gift and may even have been able to get something really nice for a price you may not have otherwise been able to afford. Secondhand goods are typically more durable than fast-production because they’ve stood the test of time and still look good. These gifts are also personal. They show the person you’re giving it to that you know them well enough to find the perfect match for them, and that you have the dedication to do it. 

Giving ethical gifts can seem impossible and is sometimes highly frustrating. But once you find ways to buy gifts that are accessible and usually still affordable, that frustration lessens and you can focus on the true reason for giving gifts. Avoid the hysteria surrounding holiday consumerism as much as you can. A gift is supposed to show the receiver that you love them and think of them enough to find something perfect for them. Plus, the search for the perfect gift can be fun and exciting, especially when you know you are purchasing in the best way possible.


Savannah Hawley

Savannah Hawley is the Managing Editor and Chief Copy Editor of The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in Oxbridge: Literature & Theory and French.

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