Most gift guides aimed at those trying to be environmentally-friendly often recommend products developed (or if you’re cynical, marketed) in a sustainable manner. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that. But as sustainability advocate Xingyun Shen told us last year, maybe we should reconsider that approach – it shouldn’t just be about buying the “right” items.
“I feel like whenever the conversation turns to this topic, it’s always about where and what to buy from; what brands should one buy in order to be sustainable. It’s always about buying, but the important thing is to move away from that transactional mindset,” said Shen.
“What we can also do as consumers is to form a relationship with the clothes that we already have so that we don’t feel like we need to fill this void with new ones, which is essentially what drives consumerism.
Alternatively, we can still shop, but much more selectively with a less-but-better mindset and supporting small, independent labels and designers while at it. Even if these labels don’t explicitly set out to be sustainable, their scale of production in comparison to that of big international labels is by default more sustainable considering their much smaller business models, intimate relationship with suppliers and customers, and so on,” explains Shen.
“It’s also about thinking beyond clothing’s aesthetic value and looking at the emotional value and memories attached to them not only from your own perspective, but also that of the people who made them.”
That said, no one likes to be The Grinch during the festive season – working with Shen’s thoughtful advice in mind, here are some suggestions for gift ideas.