It has occurred to me that living a minimalist lifestyle should affect not only what I buy for myself, but the gifts that I give to others. If I am not buying unneeded junk, why would I want to give it to people I care about? Furthermore, I think it is really important that we try to buy USA-made stuff. Of course that is difficult now since most everything is made in China (one of the biggest human rights violators in the world). And I am the culprit when I sneak into Walmart for junk. Yet increasingly it bothers me about this situation and I would like to buy more USA made things for myself. So, in terms of gift-giving, again, why would I give junk as a gift to someone that I would not buy for myself?
Gift cards seem at first like an easy solution: let people buy what they want. I have gone this route for many years, but now I wonder if I am still contributing to our materialistic problem. You could make a case that I should not really concern myself with how someone uses the gift card since it was freely given. What the bearer does after that is none of my business.
Still, I want a better solution to gift-giving. Homemade gifts are not always appreciated or wanted (think grandma’s endless afghans) so, with the exception of my homemade pickles, I don’t do many homemade gifts. In season, I like to give a bouquet of my home grown flowers, but they sure look puny next to someones lavish rose bouquet from the florist. Some people give cash but that’s not for me.
So what to do? No gift-giving? That won’t work because there are times that I want to give a gift. It feels good to celebrate an occasion with someone. Life and joyous milestones are for sharing. So what, then?
It seems to me that restaurant gift cards are a great solution. Dining out is always appreciated and the receiver can order whatever they want. Everything is consumed….no wasteful junk left over to sit around the house.
I began this train of thought recently, after I received a Subway gift card. Most people know that Subway is my staple. I eat there several times a week because I can get healthy, veggie packed foods without having to cook. I don’t buy the most expensive things on the menu, but with a gift card, I did splurge a little by getting avocado on stuff. I loved it. Also, last year I bought a fancy restaurant gift card for a 50th wedding anniversary and they loved it.
For teens and young adults, I-Tunes is always great. The gift of music is thoughtful, especially when the recipient can choose their own favorites. For readers and Kindle lovers, Amazon cards are a sensible solution, but beware, there are plenty of other temptations on Amazon. Netflix and movie theater gift cards are also a great choice.
So, the solution seems to be giving “consumables”, such as things to eat, hear, read, and watch. Besides avoiding junky gifts made in China, there is no leftover waste, including all the wrappings, bags and boxes, which tend to be thrown into landfills. Whenever there is an environmental advantage to a change, that makes the change even more worthwhile.