Giving Better – A non-consumerist approach

As the feeling of Christmas builds, we will be left with the gifts given. It is an ideal time to reflect on what has, perhaps, become a chore, an expensive chore, rather than the intended loving exchange. I feel there is a way to give better, more purposefully, less wastefully. Assuming that giving your time, gratitude and attention is not enough, I have found some alternatives to consider, before that well intended gift ends up as clutter.

In our consumer focused economy and society, it is easy to get caught up in the dollar value of a gift. With the shear volume of products out there, the price of goods have been eroded, meaning it is relatively cheap to buy stuff, but buying lots of stuff is still expensive. To economise, parents and friends collaboratively agree on a gift budget. This is the budget and I’ll see, what can I get. To be fair, I need to spend the same amount.

Some children have more toys than there are days in a year, rooms full of toys. With so many options, their attention only lasts a moment. I wonder what the long term impact this will be on their ability to focus. I’ve heard stories of alternative approaches where the parents limit their kids to two toys at a time and/or use toy libraries.

Given my nomadic nature, I tend to be particularly sensitive to gifts. I buy what I want/need, Amazon get’s it to me the next day. I do not think I am alone in this, a lot of people already have what they need (and want). A gift is then just adding to the pile of things, while eroding the value of whatever is there already. Some people feel obliged to buy for me, although I actively discourage it, then I get complaints that I’m difficult to buy for. So, I have created an alternative gifts list.

The Alternative gifts list:

  • Ethical Loan – Better Globe“Do good, contribute to a better world and earn money at the same time!”
    • My review
  • Ethical Investments – Trine – “Let’s create a world where all people have access to clean energy”
  • Charitable Donation – Act for Peace –  “Confronting injustice together”
  • Ethical Loans – Kiva“Loans that change lives”
    • My review to follow
  • Knowledge and experiences – Better yet, do it with them.
    • Buy a book
    • A course
    • An activity/experience – Travel voucher?

I plan to keep this as a live list of alternative gifts, please let me know if you have any you think I should add.

I also recommend that in your will including at least 10% to enabling charities. Read more in my post:

Born a Crime – Doing Good Better – 10% Better


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