Tips for a Green Holiday Shopping Season

Green Tips | November 23, 2022

In keeping with the holiday spirit, we are offering tips on how best to shop for family and friends, while also giving back to the environment.

A good way to do this, as we move collectively towards a more sustainable and equitable future, is to consider the carbon footprint of whatever you are thinking of buying.

For example, if you want to buy someone a beautiful sweater made in Italy, think about the cost to the environment of shipping that sweater thousands of miles. Shipping by truck, train, plane and/or ship produces carbon emissions; as a general rule, the further the trip, the more carbon emissions are produced and released into our atmosphere.

You can do this simple exercise with any present, whether it’s clothing, a house gift, specialty food or the latest gadget. The cost of shipping products and food accounts for approximately 15 percent of all carbon pollution in America, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Keeping that in mind, here are our shopping tips for this holiday season:

  1. Buy local. This will reduce or eliminate much of the carbon footprint caused by shipping, and it will also support your local merchants. You can also use reusable shopping bags to reduce waste! Read more here about why it’s important to shop locally;
  2. Avoid large, big-box stores. Most of their products are made overseas, often in Asia, and they travel many thousands of miles to their destinations. Also, these stores often use hard-plastic shell wrapping. We want to curtail their use;
  3. Gift an experience: Instead of buying things, buy someone a wonderful experience, like tickets to a show, a concert or a sporting event;
  4. Buy someone a membership to a gym or a museum or subscription to a magazine;
  5. Make a charitable gift in someone’s name;
  6. Try making something yourself. Buy local ingredients in your neighborhood and bake something delicious. Knit a scarf. Everyone loves fresh baked goodies or homemade gifts;
  7. If you do buy or make a gift, use sustainable wrapping paper, such as old newspaper or recycled paper … or no paper at all;
  8. If you receive a gift that is replacing something only mildly or gently used (clothing) or something that can be refurbished (electronics), think about donating the old item to charity. Remember, old electronics can be recycled, for parts or the actual device.    
  9. If you do buy a gift, think of shopping at your local thrift store. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful clothing and jewelry you can find by “thrifting”;
  10. If you prefer not to thrift, then think about shopping for ethically-sourced, fair-trade products, whether online or in a store. Some online options:  


  • Pact organic, carbon neutral, Fair Trade Certified
  • Vermont FlannelGOTS Certified Organic Cotton, made in USA
  • Harvest and Mill grown and sewn in USA, 100% organic cotton, carbon neutral

Beauty Products 

  • 100% Pure nontoxic, cruelty free, vegan, eco-friendly packaging and shipping
  • Clover by Clove and Hallow cruelty free, vegan, Certified Net Plastic Neutral, child labor free supply chain
  • Booda Organics organic, non-gmo, vegan, cruelty free, Fair Trade Certified
  • Nourish Organic certified by the USDA National Organic Program, cruelty free, Fair Trade Certified

Chocolate + coffee 

  • Equal Exchange – coffee and chocolate, Fair Trade Certified
  • Alter Eco – chocolate, Fair Trade Certified, regenerative agriculture, organic, carbon neutral
  • Theo – chocolate, Fair Trade Certified
  • Higher Ground – coffee, Fair Trade Certified, organic


We hope these suggestions help. We wish everyone a peaceful, healthy and wonderfully sustainable holiday season!


< Back to Citizen’s Toolkit

Get Involved