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7 Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Shopping Season—Including Gift Recommendations

No matter how you're celebrating the holidays this year, you can still give your friends and family thoughtful and sustainable gifts they'll fall in love with.

Written by
Brightly Staff

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again, which means it's time to start holiday shopping! This year, we’re super excited to celebrate with our loved ones, whether that means celebrating in person or on Zoom. While the holiday season comes with an increase in carbon emissions and overall waste, that doesn't mean you and your family can't still have fun.

No matter how you're celebrating the holidays this year, you can still give your friends and family thoughtful and sustainable gifts they'll fall in love with. Check out our tips for shopping sustainably and our gift recommendations for your loved ones!

7 Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Shopping Season

It's time to start preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales! You may even want to participate in Small Business Saturday by supporting your favorite local or online small business. Here are seven ways to have a sustainable (and productive) holiday shopping season. 

1. Shop Early

Holiday shipping cutoffs are usually about two weeks before Christmas. According to CBS News, the U.S. Postal Service will be experiencing delivery delays this holiday season. While standard shipping usually takes about three days, it could now take up to five days. Getting your shopping done early gives the USPS and any other delivery service plenty of time to mail your gifts!

2. Shop Local

Supporting a local business is not only great for your community, but it will also save you the hassle of shipping costs and delays. Brick-and-mortar stores bring in unique items that you might not find anywhere else, so be sure to check if they have something on your list. 

Local retail stores in your area might run specials for Small Business Saturday on November 27—right in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you’re unable to shop in-store, see if your favorite local businesses have a website for you to reserve the items you want for curbside pick up or even home delivery. 

3. Plan Out Purchases

It’s easy to overbuy or spend impulsively when several deals land in your inbox between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Make a list in advance of all of the gifts you need to buy, and set a budget you are comfortable with for each item. Stick to your list and budget so you don’t get sidetracked by things you don’t need—or gifts your loved ones will end up returning!

4. Research Your Options

In every retail sector—including sustainable goods—there are hundreds of options for each item. Take a few minutes to research the gifts on your list to find the one that matches your values.  

You can check out our gift guide to kick off your research. All of our partner brands are hand-selected, tested, and vetted to match our high sustainability standards. We only recommend companies that use sustainable materials whenever possible, pay workers fairly, and commit to making the world a better place for us all. 

5. Use Black Friday & Cyber Monday to Stock Up on Essentials

Whether you need a new, eco-friendly washing machine or want to restock your pantry, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer just for gifts. Consider adding the household items you need to your list, too.

6. Make a Wishlist for Your Friends and Family

We all want to buy gifts that our family and friends will cherish. It can be hard to do that when we don’t know what they want! We love a good wishlist because it helps us buy something our loved ones will enjoy and avoids returns or regifts. 

And don’t forget that you can split the cost of gifts between family members or a group of friends! You might not be able to snag the cute vegan boots on your sister’s list, but splitting the bill with another sibling can help you stay within your budget.

7. Find Your Community

Be sure to ask for help from your loved ones as you prepare for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Shop together if you can so that someone holds you accountable when you add an extra item to your cart “just because.” Or just ask them to keep their eyes peeled for deals on the items you’ve planned for!

For more creative ideas from the Brightly community, check out the holiday tips database curated by our Brightly Scouts!

ABLE offers stylish apparel and shoes that you can feel good about! Each piece employs and empowers women. And we love this company's transparency when it comes to wages—ABLE became the first fashion brand to publish wages in 2018 to end poverty.

It’s no surprise that ABLE’s Mamuye Classic Tote is one of our favorite gifts! Handcrafted in both Ethiopia and Mexico, this tote is a beautiful, high-quality, everyday bag. We also love ABLE's denim products, and its jewelry might be the perfect stocking-stuffer!

Use the code BRIGHTLY for 20% off.

2. ONEHOPE Wines

Liza has been a fan of ONEHOPE’s sustainable wines for more than five years now and has even visited the company's winery in Napa. The wines are of excellent quality, and each bottle gives back to a worthy cause. 

ONEHOPE Wines' sparkling bottles and gift sets are our top gift-worthy picks for the wine-lover in your life!

3. Sheets & Giggles

Sheets & Giggles is our go-to brand for the most comfortable and sustainable sheets on the market. The eucalyptus sheets are luxuriously soft, cooling, and cozy all at the same time. They’re the perfect gift for a homebody who's into wellness or for someone who just moved into a new place. Once you sleep on these sheets, you’ll never go back. Pinky swear!

Not sure about the sheets? No problem! Sheets & Giggles sells comforters, pillowcases, and super cozy blankets, too!

4. Diaspora Co.

Diaspora Co.’s spice kits are a beautiful and thoughtful gift option for the foodie on your list. This company offers ethically sourced and organically farmed spices from India and gets raving reviews from home cooks. Plus, Diaspora Co. is transparent about its supply chain, so you're in the know!

5. Toad & Co. 

Looking for cozy, sustainable, outdoorsy clothing? Check out Toad & Co! This brand is committed to using eco-friendly materials like Tencel, hemp, and organic cotton, and its shipping materials are recyclable or reusable. 

We particularly love the comfy Shuteye Pajama Pants, available in both men’s and women’s styles!

6. Nisolo

Nisolo makes gorgeous and ethical shoes—you can't go wrong with shopping here. This brand has the perfect mix of style, comfort, function, and sustainability. Nisolo offsets 100% of its carbon emissions and pays livable wages to its makers.  

Nisolo’s shoes also stand the test of time—Liza has worn her Nisolo mules and summer sandals for over three years, and they are good as new.

7. Cuddle + Kind

Cuddle + Kind’s dolls are heirloom-quality toys for babies and young children. The company donates 10 meals to hungry children around the globe with each purchase. And we dare you to check out Cuddle + Kind's Instagram feed—you won’t be able to stop scrolling because of the cuteness overload!

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