#DYK more than half of us will receive unwanted gifts this holiday season, totaling an estimated $13 billion of wasted money? As a result, up to 5 billion pounds of returned goods (not even counting what people immediately throw away) will end up in landfills, where they will begin releasing toxic greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Not only are unwanted gifts costly to our environment, they are costly to humans. Clothes are the second-highest product at risk of modern slavery and continually perpetuate violence against women

So what are you to do when you receive a garment from a fast fashion factory that you know doesn’t support your values? In an effort to #remakeourworld for gift-receivers and gift-givers, here are 5 tips for putting an end to gifting waste this holiday season.  

1. End the Guessing Game

Be direct. Let people know what you care about and what you want. For example, you could explain that you really care about gender equity, so it would mean a lot if you were gifted an item that empowered women. 

If friends and family are not sure where to find gifts that align with your values, share your wish list. Every year, I update my Sam’s Gifting Inspo’ board on Pinterest and share it with family and friends, making everyone’s life easier.  

How to Ward Off Unwanted Gifts This Holiday Season

2. Highlight Sustainable Alternatives

Not one for being that direct? Share these conscious gift guides and store recommendations on social, in a text thread, or over email. Gift-givers should get the hint 😉 

And for the men, EcoStylist is cranking out gift guides this year like Vegan and Eco-Friendly Gifts Any Man Will Love. EcoStylist is the go-to place for learning about eco-conscious and ethically made men’s clothing (and they utilize Remake’s Seal of Approval process for vetting brands — so you know you can trust their insight!)

3. SHARE YOUR VALUES

Let people know where you stand. If you #BoycottBlackFriday, pledge to shop sustainably, or host Made In film screenings, people will take note. By using your purchasing power, voice, and creativity, ALL YEAR LONG to make the invisible women who power our fashion industry visible, people will know you are committed to breaking up with fast fashion and will think twice about what to gift you. Trust me! While it took a couple of years, my family and friends now know to shop sustainably for any gifts they buy for me, or to opt-out of giving altogether. 

4. Go Giftless 

People feel so much pressure to spend more than they are comfortable with on gifts during the holidays. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects each of us to spend $1,048 this holiday season. It’s even more for those of us in our late 30s and early 40s. So why not let loved ones off the hook this year and say NO to physical gifts? We’re so done with the Joneses, aka social media’s pressure to have picture-perfect gifting moments. By skipping the gift, you are actually the one giving the gift. Carbon footprints lessened all around! 

If people can’t fathom something so rogue, suggest making a donation in their name. Here are some nonprofits to consider: Clean Clothes Campaign, Vital Voices, Garment Worker Center and, of course, Remake. Donations made to Remake help build the #wearyourvalues Movement and train the next generation of women’s rights and climate justice leaders. 

How to Ward Off Unwanted Gifts This Holiday Season

5. What to do when you still get unwanted gifts.

If you still were gifted an unwanted, unethical gift, here’s what we suggest: 

First, don’t sweat it. No need for eco-anxiety.  Second, please DO NOT throw it away. (Remember, the 5 billion pounds of gift waste.) By finding your unwanted gifts new, forever homes, either by swapping with friends, reselling, or simply regifting, you’ll immediately lessen the impact on our earth. Third, send a Thank you, but note. This is your opportunity to break. it. down. 

Dear [Gift-Giver Name], 

Thank you for thinking of me this [E.g Hanuka, Christmas, Kwanza, etc.]. I so appreciate the time and $$ you spent on me. 

But, for any future gifts, do you mind shopping from stores or brands that put our planet and the people that make the products first? I’ve recently learned that women in factories across the world from Mexico to Sri Lanka face low wages, physical and sexual abuse and reproductive and maternal health problems. These women are not unlike me, wanting good, safe, well-paying work that supports their family, hobbies, and dreams. 

In an effort to promote a more just and sustainable world for these women and our planet, I’ve started to shop consciously. It would bring me so much joy if you could shop consciously when you buy for me. Or, really, a donation in my name to groups like Remake, Clean Clothes Campaign, or Garment Worker Center — or no gift at all — would be just as rad! 

If you’re not sure where to start: check this out. Thank you for helping me live my values all year long. 

Xoxo,

[Your Name]

Finally, if you can’t find a new home for that unwanted gift, make it yours forever! It will be your new reminder to work harder than ever to shed light on fashion’s staggering impacts on women and our planet.

Be a change-maker this Holiday season! Make a donation that will help train future women leaders, provide free resources to the public, and fight to put an end to harms of fast fashion.

Images: Unsplash

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