Week 6 Recap: Make Gift-Giving More Sustainable

Many people know Sustainable Blacksburg from our years of hosting a “Greening the Holidays” event to give people ideas for celebrating the winter holidays more sustainably. Although the winter holidays are the biggest gift-giving occasion, did you know that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also in the top 5 according to some sources? When you add in graduations, weddings and birthdays, this season is also a major one for gift-giving. Did you also know that much of the stuff we buy is not even in use only six months later and that new items also generate a lot of manufacturing and packaging waste? Throughout the week, we highlighted ways to make gift-giving more sustainable, from buying secondhand to buying handmade to not buying at all.

Gifting Secondhand Items

You may feel that a gift has to be something new, but did you know that many vintage items are now trendy, from clothing to jewelry to home decor? Part of the appeal is their uniqueness, but also their sustainability. Just as with any gift, you need to consider the recipient and their interests and whether they would appreciate a gift that has been previously used and loved. However, many people who are concerned about sustainability actually prefer something secondhand over something new because they know the environmental costs of producing new items. Secondhand gifts can be just as thoughtful and appreciated as new ones as long as you take the time to look for something personal the recipient will enjoy.

The YMCA at Virginia Tech now has a boutique inside the thrift store featuring vintage collectibles and some items unused in their original boxes.

Featuring the very best donated vintage, new, brand names and collectibles as well as some consignment items. Y’s Best Boutique offers something for everyone with sales benefitting our community based programs including Meals On Main, Senior Connections, After School Care and our International Programs.

The Blacksburg Vintage Market is back in operation! Find secondhand gifts at the Blacksburg Farmers Market every second Sunday (April to November).

The market is made up of a carefully chosen group of vendors who are selling a wide selection of quality vintage items, upcycled crafts, and occasional antiques. Some of the treasures you will find at this fascinating market are: vintage vinyl Lps, a wide selection of interesting jewelry, clothing for all ages, footwear, old books, handbags & accessories, rugs, house wares, folk art, and much more.


Gifting an Experience

Experiences make great sustainable gifts, but they’re obviously hard to come by right now. However, there are some options that also benefit local nonprofits.

The New River Land Trust is hosting the 45th Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour – Virtual Edition so you can give access to great outdoor films while benefiting the Land Trust’s work. One advantage to the film festival being virtual this year is that anyone anywhere can enjoy it.

If the gift recipient would appreciate in-person films, you can give a gift certificate to The Lyric Theatre, Blacksburg. You can also consider making your own certificate for a gift of your time or help with a task. Even young children really want time with their parents or other loved ones more than they do one more toy to add to the pile.


Gifting Handmade

Because handmade items are not mass-produced, they are unique, well-crafted and made to enjoy for a long time. Buying locally means the items don’t have to be shipped long distances and your money stays in the community, supporting local artists and, in some cases, local charitable organizations. You are also helping to keep crafting skills alive.

In addition to this list of local galleries, the Montgomery Museum of Art & History is hosting an exhibition of watercolors by William R. (Bill) Snow until June 29th, with an outdoor reception on June 3rd. Proceeds from the sale of any works will benefit the Fund for the NRV at the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.


Gifting Local

Who doesn’t love to eat? And who doesn’t love a special treat now and then? Food is often the centerpiece of our most important occasions, so it can be a very meaningful gift as well as a sustainable one. You can prepare a homecooked meal, bake a family favorite or shop our local food sources to fill a goodie basket. You could treat the recipient to a gift certificate to a favorite local restaurant or let the recipient choose the restaurant with a gift certificate to the Downtown Merchants. Either of these would be a great end-of-year teacher gift! Much more useful than another mug or knick knack. Other consumable products also make great gifts, such as handmade soap or a shampoo bar. Even necessary items can be special gifts.


Buy Nothing Project

Finding the perfect sustainable gift might mean not buying anything. Many people would prefer a donation to a favorite charity in their name. Just do a little research to find one that supports a cause that’s meaningful to them. You might also find a gift by connecting with a group through the Buy Nothing Project, through which people give from their own abundance and gratefully receive what others no longer want. Blacksburg has two Buy Nothing Facebook groups, East and West, depending on which side of Main Street you live on. A mother of a four-year-old asked the group for help with her daughter’s birthday and the group came through with a flood of gifts, many of them still in their packages. A young couple getting married and wanting to be sustainable while saving to pay off student loans asked for supplies for DIY decorations for their engagement party. Again, the group came through with lots of items they could use in another heartwarming act of community. Many of us have much more than we need so as we strive to be sustainable let’s consider not buying so much but instead looking at what we already have.


Coming Up…

Week 7 starts tomorrow! Join us as we discuss ways to Cut Your Transportation Footprint and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to see daily updates.


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