One article about gifts and waste. How to choose a beautiful and trash-free gift for your loved one?

by Rada Boneva
 One article about gifts and waste. How to choose a beautiful and trash-free gift for your loved one?

Valentine’s Day is knocking on the door and dragging all sorts of commercials reminding us to get gifts for our loved ones…Every gift sparks joy, right?

According to us maybe but how does our Mother Earth feel about that? Are there any gifts that don’t generate waste? How to make our favourite people happy without harming the environment?

If you’d like to find out the answers of these questions, read the article till the end : )

We already addressed the topic of how to talk about sustainability with the people around us, also dived deep into the matter of food waste prevention and how to keep our food fresh for longer.

Have you however thought of how much waste we generate around Christmas, New Year’s and all of the other festivities? Not only from the food on the table but also from the decorations and the gift wrapping…

Stanford University is telling us that if every (American) family uses only 50 cm ribbon, we’ll get 61,155 km ribbon which will be enough to wrap a knot around our whole planet. The quantity of paper which the average American will save if he/she re-uses wrapping materials would be enough to cover 45,000 football pitches. Moreover, if he/she sends one card less per year, that practice would save 39 cubic meters of paper.

Our planet is already quite populated (7.5 bilion people to be precise) and plenty of us are celebrating Christmas. What percentage of that are families with children? – A large one. And every child receives 16 Christmas gifts on average. From mum, dad, grandma, grandpa, from our colleagues, cousins, friends…And the trouble starts from there – wrapping paper – ribbon – card – paper – ribbon – card. And a tag with the recipient’s name here and there. A sad statistic shows that during festivities we generate 30% more waste than on any other day!

How can you tell if your wrapping paper is recyclable?

The fact that certain types of paper are recyclable doesn’t mean that all of them are. If the paper is shiny, contains glitter (which is practically plastic), then we have bad news for you…your paper is NOT recyclable. In general, the types of paper which aren’t recyclable are highly pigmented, laminated, some of them are too thin and often contain embossed elements such as shiny Christmas trees, gifts, hearts and other complex, unrecyclable items. Same rules apply to ribbons and greeting cards. In the USA alone these items amount to 4 million pounds of trash…annually!


  • It’s needless to say that we recommend supporting the local artists & companies and their (often small) businesses : )
  • Send an online card to your loved ones. Everything nowadays is only 1 click away and this way you can personalise your card with a picture and a favourite tune.
  • Did you know that you can recycle paper from 5 to 7 times? Each ton of recycled paper saves 13 trees from cutting. You don’t need to wait for a special occasion to send a plantable greeting card made of recycled paper, check this one out for example.The recipient can plant it after he/she reads their wishes and later enjoy some beautiful flowers in a pot/garden which is basically getting two products out of one.

  • Wrap several gifts in one go, don’t leave them hanging one by one.
  • Wrap your gifts with:

a) craft paper – almost like the one small supermarkets once used to wrap cheese and meat; You can find it in the small, local bookstores or flea markets.

b) road maps, newspapers or commercial leaflets – a wonderful way to re-use and upcycle something that you can’t use the original way any more. Something to keep in mind, you might have to use 2-3 sheets because they are thinner and get torn more easily.

Prop: you can cut some letters from leaflets and magazines to “label” who the gift is for;

Another prop: If you have a child or a nephew/niece around, you can use some of their drawings as wrapping paper too : )


c) knitted basket or a metal box which the recipient can re-use multiple times for storage purposes and more;

d) a piece of fabric/scarf/cotton or linen towel – the Japanese furoshiki wrapping technique is gaining momentum around the zerowaste circles, follow #furoshiki for tutorials, inspiration and more! ;

  • Using the furoshiki method will also save you the ribbons and wrapping materials.Plastic tape is NOT recyclable so please avoid it by all means – you can use paper tape, the good old needle and thread, make a natural glue from water and flour or put your trust on a strong twine.
  •  Plan the food menu in advance. Finish your leftovers, donate them to someone in need or turn them into another tasty meal. You can read more about sustainable food storage HERE
  • Have you been in a sitution when you’ve received a piece of clothing that’s too small or too large for you or you just don’t like it and you want to return it? Bear in mind that if you are an EU citizen, there are rules and regulations in your favour and you shouldn’t hold your tongue if you’re not satisfied with something. If you’ve received damaged goods or if they get damaged in a short time – For the first two years of use the selling company has to repair, change, reduce the price or refund you if they’ve sold you a product with defects or one which doesn’t function the way it’s been advertised to. You don’t need a specific reason to return an item if you do it within 14 days of the purchase and you haven’t used it yet. (This rule doesn’t apply to food, software or personalised products).

What to take into consideration?

  • Be careful when shopping for children’s toys. The majority of them are completely made of plastic and are often painted with toxic chemicals which can be dangerous for the little ones. This can lead to memory and development problems. You might have also guessed that such ingredients are not environmentally friendly and can leak into our water basins and soil so what we advise is going for toys made of wood, steel and such which do not require the use of batteries.
  • Be mindful when choosing cosmetics as well.
  • Most gift sets do not impress with natural, sustainable ingredients and still a lot of people go for them because of the low price and the shiny packaging. You’ll often come across mini travel kits which we see as completely unnecessary as we all have larger cosmetic products at home and (hopefully) reusable smaller travel containers. We’d also recommend avoiding conventional body scrubs containing microplastics. Read the labels carefully and stay away from: the widely spread parabens, chemical perfumes, DEA (diethanolamine) and its foam making derivatives; DBP in nail polishes and more.

Investing in natural cosmetics is not just a “hippy trend” but an investment in your personal health and beauty!

Unfortunately, some of the most commonly used ingredients in conventional  cosmetics can lead to breast cancer, skin aging, asthma, skin and eye irritations and more.

What do we recommend?

The easiest thing is to invite you to take a look at our store. It’s harder to tell what gift would be suitable for your other half but we can definitely give you some ideas which are applicable not only for Saint Valentine’s but also for Christmas, Birthday parties or the thousand name days we celebrate here in Bulgaria (Cheers Valentin, Theodora, Tsvetelina!)

  • HANDMADE IS ALWAYS BETTER. Every handmade item is precious. Regardless of the fact whether you see yourself as skillful or not. The added value to the gift multiplies when you invest your personal time, creativity and inspiration to make your loved one happy. Such gifts can be handmade cards, knitted hats, jewelry and food. A tin of delicious homemade cookies or a jar with ingredients and a cookie recipe printed on sound quite exciting, right?

We can also prompt you to check out how cloth bags, book binders or coffee mug sweaters are made locally. Cool sustainable gifts, right?

  • EXPERIENCES > ITEMS – We all know this. Apart from the time spent with your favourite people, not in front of the computer with tons of work, you can also give non-material gifts. These can range from a language course, dinner in a favourite restaurant, cocktail class, software subscription, holiday, SPA, marathon vouchers or even pet adoption. There are so many NGOs promoting remote adoption, you can even adopt a penguin nowadays without him/her ever entering your house ; )
  • You can also invest in things which will remain long after the festivities end, but at service, not on the landfill. Some ideas can be sporting equipment for the passionate aficionados, sustainable backpacks, kindles and more.

Another point that we shouldn’t forget to address when discussing waste from festivities is fireworks. As beautiful as they are, they are also quite noisy and harmful for the animals. Our furry friends can get panick attacks from the noise which makes them run away and lose orientation. And if that is not bad enough, fireworks possess a real threat when it comes to physical injuries and fires if you or your furry friend ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is also an environmental concern when it comes to the quality of the air we breathe. Our friends from Lessplastic Bulgaria share that according to Umweltbundesamt , the concentration of particulate matter in the air in the first minutes of the New Year is more than 1000 µg/m³ in most of the big cities in Germany. As a reference point, the average yearly particulate matter pollution rate (P10) shouldn’t be more than 40 µg/m³ and the average maximum concentration of particulate matter for a period of 24 hours is 50 µg/m³. This value can be exceeded maximum 35 times in a year (directive 2008/50/ЕU).”

This year in the letter to Santa Claus we wrote: “P.S. Dear Santa, please follow the example of Green Revolucia and wrap our gifts using only sustainable materials.” Don’t forget to add these two lines to each online order that you place and we’re sure that companies will do their best to keep you happy. If you’re using courier services, don’t feel compelled to use the plastic courier company envelopes – go for a cardboard box or re-use already available materials from home to add extra filing if you’re sending fragile items. You can check this link for some ideas


And last call to action, subscribe to our social media channels to stay up-to-date with the latest sustainable news, sales and blog articles.