7 Tips for Sustainable Gift Giving This Holiday Season
As the holiday season approaches we want to inspire sustainable gift-giving. Instead of manic and hurried gift purchasing, you’ve still got time to make sure that your gifts are ethical and sustainable. But how do you do that? By asking a few important questions before you buy. Not only will you be supporting the artisans this way, but you’ll be supporting the environment and giving the recipient a genuine and meaningful gift.
1. Be informed, ask questions
There’s no excuse for not knowing where your purchase comes from, who makes it, who benefits from its sale, and how it impacts the environment. See our Sustainable Shopping blog for three of the questions you should be asking.
2. Quality over quantity
We need to give less in volume and more in value. And while shopping ethically costs more, when you think about it, it should! Because ethical vendors reward their artisans fairly and demand sustainable materials and products with the smallest footprint possible. Worth paying for, in our book. And your recipient will end up with a forever gift, not something that ends up in a landfill.
3. Avoid the big guys
You can shop big stores with mass-produced, inexpensive products except they are anything but sustainable. It's time to be a part of the solution.
4. Is the material sustainable?
It’s important to ask questions like this. The material should be sustainable, and the production must not harm the earth. Handmade is so important. When an artisan makes a product with their hands, they use traditional craftsmanship. The pieces are magnificent and will be handed down from generation to generation—as was the ancestral knowledge that created them. These are the natural cycles—working with nature whereas mass production works against nature.
5. Is the brand transparent?
This question, of course, goes back to knowing where your product comes from and who benefits from the sale. If the vendor won’t answer these questions, the brand is not transparent.
6. What kind of packaging do they use?
You can tell a lot about a company by the packaging they use. Plastic? Not so sustainable. You want to be on the lookout for materials like millboard boxes made from recycled paper. And look beyond the exterior package. For example, our signature Obakki candle containers are created from 50% pre-consumer recycled glass. And of course, the rigid packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable. Keep your eye open for products, such as our brass candle holders from Japan, that come packaged in a reusable wooden box. Whenever packaging can be repositioned for additional or alternate use, it’s a big win for the planet.
7. Does the company support a cause?
It’s not a requirement for a sustainable product line, but it’s a nice touch. You can find the odd vendor who will answer all the questions above like a champion and still be a for-profit business (but a reasonable profit). On the other hand, if a company supports a cause – we think it’s a fair bet that they aren’t in this for themselves. And that’s always a good sign.
At Obakki, over half of our supplier relationships are partnerships with our artisans. We reinvest our profits back into their communities, with their direction. And sales from our Obakki collections – all sustainable, ethical, artisan-made products – support the Obakki Foundation. The foundation has drilled over 4,000 water wells and supplied over 3.5 million people with clean water around the world. And we’re just getting started.
Every gift you purchase at Obakki gives an artisan funding or helps give someone clean water. When you shop ethically, you’re really giving twice. ‘Tis the season.
SHOP SUSTAINABLE GIFTS
Glass blowing has been around for some time, invented by Syrian craftsmen more than 2,500 years ago. When purchasing quality glassware or art glass, you should consider the aesthetics, the origin, and the type of glasswork.
What happens if a young man wants to propose to his love in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico? He must first ask her parents for her hand in marriage and must present the family with what is known as a ‘marriage candle’. Doña Viviana invented these candles. And now, they are a tradition.
His workshop is Manos Que Ven (Hands That See). The artisan is Jose Garcia Antonio, a sculptor who lost his sight in the 1950s, due to glaucoma. And now, he sculpts his wife’s face, so that he will never forget what she looks like.