By Phoebe Whitbeck
December is the month of shopping — of holiday sales, gift buying, and money flying! This grand display of consumerism can be fun and exciting, but its impact on the environment, and your wallet, is damaging and unnecessary. Each year, Americans spend millions of dollars, throw away tons of plastic packaging, and contribute massive emissions from shipping their online purchases. Beyond that, those purchases fuel the ethically and environmentally detrimental industry of fast fashion. So how does one reduce their holiday shopping footprint, you ask? Goodwill is a perfect place to start.
Whether you’re looking to craft, bake, or wrap up your gifts straight from the store, I have a few ideas to help inspire a sustainable holiday season …
I first hit up the clothing section of the Whitehall store, where I found nice jackets, sweaters, scarves, and button downs that would make great gifts as is. Thrifted is in fashion! As more news comes out about the horrors of fast fashion (https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/what-is-fast-fashion), the trend towards ethically sourced and sustainable fashion becomes stronger. It’s also more fun to have unique items, rather than find yourself wearing the (often exact) same clothes as everyone else. Additionally, I found a large variety of great jewelry and purses to pair with your new thrifted outfit!
Checkered button down (Croft & Barrow): $4
Corduroy jacket: $5
Blue button down: $4
Red tank top: $2
Orange blazer (L.L.Bean): $8Tan button down (Nautica): $4
If you’re feeling creative, you can make beautiful and unique items out of your Goodwill finds. Cut and sew together flannels, sweatshirts, and t-shirts, or add some flare using fabric paint.
You can save paper and plastic by wrapping presents using old shirts! https://www.momtastic.com/home/entertaining/477171-how-to-wrap-gifts-using-recycled-old-shirts/
Old neckties also work as gift wrapping or can be woven into creative crafts. https://thesewingloftblog.com/13-creative-ways-to-reuse-mens-ties/
Yarn can be used as ribbon, made into festive pom-poms, or knitted into a scarf! There are plenty of crafting supplies to be had at Goodwill.
Everyone loves receiving edible gifts, and I think they are even tastier with artful packaging. Goodwill has lots of glassware, mugs, and plates that make perfect containers for your holiday treats—and you won’t have to ask for your cookie plate back! You can fill a mug with cake mix, hot cocoa, roasted nuts, or chocolates. Bowls, wine glasses, and mason jars also can be made into candles or succulent planters! https://blog.fashion-is-fiction.com/blog/2013/2/25/diy-thrifted-wine-glass-candles
One of the easiest, cheapest, and most personal gifts is a printed photo using a frame found at Goodwill! Books are always great gifts, especially when paperbacks are only 80 cents! Games and toys are also better bought second-hand. A lot of waste is produced when kids grow out of their perfectly usable toys.
Often after a day of shopping, in stores or online, I feel guilty and a little upset with myself for spending too much money on things I don’t need. But at the checkout after my thrifting spree, I felt good about that $35 spent because I knew it would be used to help people in the community through Goodwill’s incredible mission. Their job training programs and employment opportunities empower individuals towards success. Now I’ve accomplished my holiday shopping and made a charitable contribution, without supporting unethical and unsustainable fashion!
Phoebe is from Montague and is a sophomore at UNCW. She is an avid sailor, figure skater, vegan chef, and explorer/wanderer/seeker. Follow her on Instagram @phoebee.27