ESCI 302

CJ2: Giving Back by Giving Less: A Gift-Giving Makeover


Excessive gift wrapping

Excessive gift wrapping

So much packaging for such a tiny (plastic) gift. What’s the point?


Simple, recycled wrapping paper 🙂

Giving less (stuff) can mean so much more!

The more birthdays and Christmases I see come and go, the more I realize how much gift giving has become something most people feel obligated to do. I’ve noticed that for a lot of well-meaning family members, quantity wins out over quality, and before I know it, we’re all drowning in gift wrapping, bubble wrap, plastic packaging, and plastic gifts. Completely acknowledging that this sounds like such an entitled first world problem…it is exactly that! In countries like Canada, we often view the giving of physical gifts as a language of love. But what happens when gifts start flying around just for the sake of giving them? Not to mention the excessive plastic packaging that most gifts are drowning in (especially if they have been bought online). Besides the stress of trying to find where to put all this “stuff”, the biggest problem is all that packaging that ends up hitting the landfills.

Robin Wall Kimmerer makes a beautiful yet powerful statement when she talks about “powerful acts of reciprocity with the land” (pg. 174). I have decided my act of reciprocity for the land is to ask that family and friends avoid giving gifts to me and my children that contain plastic packaging of any kind, and to take it a step further, to avoid the gift itself containing plastic. I am also going to avoid the same when giving gifts to others. In addition, I am going to phase out using wrapping paper and find ways to use recycled materials instead.

To visually represent this idea, I created a “Christmas present” out of cardboard. When this “gift” is viewed from one side, it is wrapped in excessive paper and there is layer after layer of packaging. Contained in the gift is a plastic toy a fraction of the size of the packaging itself. To represent the act of reciprocity, when the “gift” is turned over, it is wrapped in recycled newspaper and contained in the box are different ideas for gifts that don’t involve packaging or useless “stuff” at all – gifts such as concert tickets, magazine subscriptions, books, experiences, etc. Giving something such as an experience means the gift of giving time spent with a loved one, which is almost always more meaningful than a material thing.

2 thoughts on “CJ2: Giving Back by Giving Less: A Gift-Giving Makeover”

  1. Hey Lauren!
    Great blog post! This idea is really out of social norms and will be a big change. But you are absolutely right that wrapping does not mean anything; it is what you are giving. I know for my family my grandmother saves bags and reuses them for gifts. As for myself I do the same but this year moving to Regina; I had no supply. When I was looking around at the mall the wrapping paper was more then the gift itself. The wrapping isn’t what matters; it is the giving that matters. This year I ended up wrapping my friends Christmas presents in newspaper I found around at the school and after they were done opening the presents we recycled the paper. Can wrapping paper be recycled? or the plastic coatings that are over the gifts? Curious to what extend are things recyclable (gift wise). It is hard to buy gifts with minimal packaging unless they are homemade. Its an inspiration to be able to do this in todays society and norms. Good luck!


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