December 12, 2019

Joro's Guide to Sustainable Gifting

By Rachel Ashley

Gifts to warm the heart, not the planet

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Lots of yummy food, time with loved ones, and a justifiable reason to listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” on repeat. All that’s left is your holiday shopping, which sounds simple, but can be tough if you’re on the lookout for low-carbon gifts.

Here’s the ugly truth: The capitalist society we’re a part of wants us to buy more stuff. In fact, shoppers spent $69 billion this Black Friday Weekend alone.

But let’s face it: the holidays create junk. Americans return more than a third of gifts given, and toss out 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and Christmas than at any other time of the year. It’s the useless crap, the wrapping, the shipping packages, the holiday specific decor, and more. If every family saved and reused even just 2 feet of holiday ribbon, it would be enough to wrap the entire planet in a bow. Americans use more energy to power their holiday lights than the entire country of El Salvador does in a year.

Wondering what to give your family this year that they don’t already have? Don’t you wish you could wrap the planet up in a bow and give it to a friend… without actually creating all that ribbon waste? Here are our team’s top 5 ideas for sustainable gifting.

1. Give a healthy planet

Use Joro’s new gifts feature to preserve forests in honor of a loved one

Photo Credit: Cool Effect

Instead of buying more things that contribute to our carbon footprints and generate waste, consider giving the gift of a healthy planet. Carbon offsets are a meaningful and unique way to show your love for your family and love for planet at the same time.

Finding quality carbon offsets is difficult – that’s why we’ve done the research for you. Now you can open the Joro app’s Take Action page to send the gift of carbon offsets to anyone who has an email address, regardless of whether or not they have a Joro account.

Your gift supports a community-owned forestry project in San Juan Lachao, Mexico from our partner, Cool Effect. We picked this project because it is additional, permanent, and verified, and supported by a nonprofit partner we trust. The credits are the newest vintage – 2018 – and was verified in person in September 2019.

If carbon offsets don’t feel appealing, you can also donate to a charity on behalf of your loved ones. We personally love the idea of giving to nonprofits that support civil engagement with climate action, such as, Sunrise Movement, and Extinction Rebellion.

2. Give an experience

Give a memorable experience that doesn’t create unnecessary waste

Gift an Outdoor Adventure

Photo by Johnell Pannell on Unsplash

Instead of giving a gift that requires energy to produce, package, transport, and dispose of, consider gifting an experience.

For the lowest-carbon option, gift an outdoors experience. It’s easy to get cabin fever this time of year, especially if you live in a snowy region. Plan a winter hike, boot up in ice skates to get time outside, or challenge yourself to find an experience reachable by public transit. If you find yourself in Boston, check out our mindful adventuring tips for what you can do in 36 hours.

Gift a Class

Photo credit:  Meghan Holmes on Unsplash

From writing to fitness to guitar to cooking classes, there’s something for everyone in your life to try – and you join them for quality time!

Gift a fitness class to the workout buffs in your life. Gift a vegetarian cooking class to friends or family – for anyone trying to cut down on meat, a cooking class could be the motivation they need to start cooking more plant-forward meals.

3. Give products that improve a person’s carbon footprint

Give smart tools that make it easier to live lighter in 2020

For the home

Photo credit: Kara Eads on Unsplash

If you’re looking for a larger gift, Smart Thermostats make it possible to adjust your energy use when you are out of your home to save energy and costs. Win!

For a smaller gift, consider the OG carbon saver: plants. Plants add green to an otherwise bleak season and can help clean the air in your stuffy home. If you’re gifting to someone who is a new plant parent, check out the New York Time’s list of plants that are hard to kill “for the inept.”

For the table

Photo credit: Adam Jaime on Unsplash

Consider a Gift Certificate to a vegetarian restaurant or restaurant with mouthwatering vegetarian options. Clover Food Lab is a great option for the friend curious about food innovation and Thai and Indian restaurants create stellar vegetarian dishes.

Help your loved ones out with food waste by gifting a compost subscription. Composting food waste has approximately the same carbon impact as going meat free once a week.

4. Give products that reduce waste

Photo credit: Wild Minimalist

It feels like every week there’s a new heartbreaking story about a whale washed ashore with pounds of plastic in its guts.

Giving gifts that reduce waste can be a breath of fresh air. For the water bottle or coffee cup offender in your life, consider gifting reusable water bottles and coffee tumblers. Level up your zero waste gift with beeswax wrap, travel tupperware, or bamboo cutlery.

There are so many fun and delightful options now for zero waste. The Package Free Shop and The Wild Minimalist are two great places to look.

5. Give sustainably-made products

Hardcore eco-gifts

Photo credit: 4Ocean

Consider gifting vintage items, such as vintage Patagonia (it’s cooler now anyways) or a “Used-Like New” InstaPot from Facebook Marketplace.

If you have an eco-nerd in your life, gift a product made from atmospheric carbon like the Negative Bracelet or Carbon Coaster. Think carbon capture sounds a little too similar to placing coal in your loved one’s stocking? Gift a 4Ocean bracelet made from recycled ocean plastics to help clean up ocean plastics.

Look for certifications

Check to see if the products you gift are certified safe for the planet. A few certifications to look for are Certified Organic, Fair Trade, and Rainforest alliance.

Look for certified organic if you’re gifting a food related experience. Plant-forward cooking classes are exciting. Organic plant-forward classes are yummy and exciting.

The Fair Trade seal means the community and environment benefit from the product you gift. It’s more fun to tell the story of your artisan crafted gifts when you can share how the gift empowers the creators.

Similar to Fair Trade, the  Rainforest Alliance seal empowers communities and ensures your gift does not contribute to rainforest deforestation. Trust us, the aroma of your loved one’s favorite South American coffee smells better when they know it supports rainforest protection.

6. Give gifts that drive awareness

For the bookworms in your life, consider gifting one of the many high-quality climate books that have come out in the last year or so. To name just a few of our favorites:


This holiday season, gift lighter while still loving generously. Hope you enjoyed our rules of thumb for gifting sustainably!

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