Corporate Wellness

Guide To Sustainable Gifting For Every Season

Looking to be more conscious about your gifting choices, in particular for Diwali gifts, this festive season? We’re here to help you understand why sustainable gifting matters and how you can ace it!

By Aditi
03 Oct 2022

Firecracker residue, plastic wrappers, and disposable cutlery strewn across public areas is a common sight after the festive season, especially Diwali. According to various civic bodies across India, approximately 50 tonnes of excess waste is collected during Diwali.


While you might have sworn off firecrackers and pledged to be more eco-friendly during the festive season, not many stop to think about their gifting habits. A box of sweets brought from your local halwai covered in plastic wrapping might seem harmless but will contribute to waste that will outlive an entire generation.


Diwali might be the season of giving and receiving, but it’s also important to understand the long-term implications of gift-giving. Sustainable gifting doesn’t only aim to use fewer resources, but the materials used are biodegradable and reusable. Upcycling is also another popular component of sustainable gifting, and being mindful of your gifting habits can ensure that you leave less of an impact on the environment.


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What You Don’t Know About Festive Packaging

There’s no denying that there’s an increased influx of waste during the festive season, from flowers that are used to decorate to diyas that light up your home. Metropolitan cities like Delhi and Indore regularly develop guidelines during festive seasons to curb air pollution and waste generated; however, the problem still persists.


According to a 2019 market analysis report, the global gift-wrapping products market size is estimated to be around $15.1 billion (as of 2018). The number has only increased since then, and the prevalence of these products reflects that, as a society, we are not paying enough attention to the waste left behind.


While you might think that biodegradable materials and products eventually degrade in landfills, that is not entirely true. While, in theory, biodegradable materials should break down easily, overcrowding in landfills is making it harder for these materials to degrade. Ensuring that your gifts and wrapping don’t make it to the landfills in the first step toward minimising your environmental impact.


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Are You Feeling Green Guilt?

With increasing awareness about waste, pollution, and sustainability, more people today are feeling ‘green guilt.’ Green guilt can be described as the guilt consumers have when they know they’re not doing everything they can and should do to protect the environment.


According to PerkBox (a UK-based benefits and rewards platform), 89 per cent of adults experience green guilt, with over 60 per cent describing themselves as actively working to reduce their environmental impact. If you’ve been shopping for sweets, decorations, and gifts during the festive season, you might have caught yourself feeling bad about buying and receiving items that cause so much waste.


A 2017 report published in Science Advances shows that of the 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste that has been produced, only around 9 per cent has been recycled. As an individual living in a time where climate change is already leading to devastating results, like unexpected torrential rain, floods in Pakistan, and more, it’s time for all of us to be collectively more conscious about our gifting habits this festive season.


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Mindful Gifting 101

Alternatives like second-hand gifting, wrapping in cloth, and more can help make your gifting more mindful and sustainable simultaneously. When you’re wondering whether an item is eco-friendly, it’s always good to check if the product is low-impact, reusable, high-quality, biodegradable, and sustainably sourced.


But it’s not just gifting you need to pay attention to, it’s also accepting gifts. Taking a strong stance against receiving gifts that are ‘unsustainable’ in nature will help other people also be more conscious about what they’re giving to you. It can help in reframing the narrative about gifting and stop it from becoming a ‘mindless’ tradition that people follow just for the sake of festivities.


Author Vasudha Rai also stresses on the importance of speaking out in favour of sustainability. The waste generated by packaging, especially for small products, compelled her to call out brands for their use of non-recyclable packaging. Looking into a brand’s ethos on sustainability and eco-friendliness is crucial before you decide to buy any gifts from them.


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Making a Difference With Your Gifting

Make a difference this festive season with innovative and sustainable gifting choices. Some sustainable and green gifts you can give during festivities are:


Unsustainable Gifting Options Green Alternatives
Flowers Plants and seed starter kits
Plastic stationery and toys Plantable stationery, toys made out of metal, cloth, and other reusable materials
Clothing made from polyester Clothing made from natural fibres like cotton and hemp
Leather bags, shoes, and other products Bags, shoes, and other products made from leaf leather, cork, recycled rubber, and waxed canvas
Paraffin candles Incense sticks, ittar, beeswax candles, gift options from NGOs that contribute to the community
Gift baskets with plastic wrapping and other disposable products Gifts baskets made from natural materials (straw, jute), with fruits and vegetables, or reusable items
Indian sweets or chocolates Homemade sweets or products sourced from sustainable eateries with organic ingredients
Gift hampers Eco-friendly starter kits or similar hampers encourage people to be eco-friendly.


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Support Artisans

A lot of people shy away from sustainable gifting as they believe it to be too expensive. However, choosing eco-friendly options doesn’t necessarily mean you have to increase your budget, especially when you choose to look closer to home. You will find plenty of home-grown options, like jute bags made in Rajasthan, made by local artisans.


Many tribal goods also make for perfect gifting options, and you can find locally-sourced honey, teas, earthen pottery, steel utensils, and more that can cater to any budget. Visiting a local artisan in your area with some items that can be upcycled, like bags, journals, scrap clothing, and more, is also ideal when you want to give something personalised to those you love. You can also look for organisations that help build local artisan collective and tribal community outlets that are both sustainable and help you give back to the community.


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Green Packaging

Once you have your sustainable gifting items ready, you might be confused about how to give them to your friends and family. Commercialised wrapping paper is extremely hard to dispose of, as many of them come with plastic coatings that don’t degrade naturally. Here are some green packaging alternatives you can use, with things easily found at home!


  • Paper bags: You can buy these from sustainable sources or make them yourself! There are plenty of DIY videos that go into making handmade paper and bags that are not too time-consuming
  • Glass packaging: 100 per cent recyclable, and you can find them as bottles or jars. If you’re planning on gifting edible items like sweets, this type of packaging is perfect.
  • Metal packaging: Aluminium and steel never go bad, and they are the ideal options when you’re looking for something a little bit more heavy-duty.
  • Cloth packaging: When all else fails, cloth packaging is here to help. You can easily find scraps in your home that can make for great patchwork wrapping.


Gifting With a Purpose

Being conscious about your gifting choices doesn’t take a lot of effort once you get started. Begin with your sustainable festive gifting so you don’t have to experience green guilt about it later!


Related Story: Five Delightful Beverages For This Festive Season Without Alcohol




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