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Everyone can do their bit for the environment – whether that be eating less meat, re-using the same plastic shopping bag or using less electricity at home.

However, one of the best ways you can help the environment every now and again is by finding an alternative way to give gifts because of the impact it can have on the world.

What’s so bad about gift-giving?

Gift-giving is a heart-warming practice that fulfils the social needs of a society. However, the act is harming the environment with the amount of plastic waste that comes from thrown away toys. For instance, ‘a poll by the British Heart Foundation found that more than a quarter of parents admit to throwing away toys that are in perfect working order. It spoke to more than 2,000 people and found children have an average of four toys they’ve never played with.’

Toys are contributing largely to the landfills and many cannot be recycled as they are. Often they will have to be broken down and dismantled, and even then only some parts can be recycled.

‘It’s difficult to define when gift giving becomes ethical or unethical. We should not be providing gifts that endanger the social, environmental or economic sustainability of future generations to meet their needs’ – Dr Petros Vourvachis.

Wrapping paper is also really bad for the environment – did you know that ‘a lot of the paper you might think is recyclable is actually lined with plastic?’ This means it cannot be recycled and ends up in the landfill with the plastic toys it was encasing! It seems crazy that we are still wasting money on wrapping paper, when there are far more sustainable ways to give gifts.

An environmentally friendly way

We cannot avoid the inevitability of gift-giving. There are birthdays to buy for, anniversaries every year and the holiday season, which welcomes tonnes of unused toys. However, the damage that it causes to the environment makes it well worth looking into different ways to give gifts on special occasions – this encompasses how we give gifts and what we actually give.

Avoid material goods by giving their cash value to an individual instead. People hate giving loved ones money because they think it looks lazy and unthoughtful. However, it’s definitely one of the most helpful gifts you can give a person. By contributing to someone’s goal or wish, then the gift of money is actually the opposite to being inconsiderate – it’s thoughtful, kind and useful. For example, if someone’s saving up to go to university, you can give money towards their books or accommodation. Alternatively, they may be wanting to go travelling and you can contribute towards their backpack or first flight away.

The benefits

Opting for an alternative gift, like money put into a loved one’s savings account, can actually save you some pennies too. You do not have to spend money on wrapping paper or fancy boxes, and you may not even have to get a card. For example, the Offspring app lets you input a message with your donation, so you can say your greetings and good lucks in the comments. It’s time to start ditching the traditional gifts and opt for the Offspring way of giving!