Lex Weinstein’s Guide to Conscious Gift Giving

Published – SmartyPants Blog – Nov. 2018
Author – Caroline Fontein

We all look for ways to be sustainable in our everyday. From the foods we eat to the supplements we take, we want products that are good for us and the environment. Yet, when it comes to holiday shopping, it can be challenging to find a great gift that still gives back to the greater good.

So we sat down with conscious creative, influencer and SmartyPants ambassador Lex Weinstein to get her tips for conscious gift giving this holiday season.


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“We’re so used to consuming and this idea of one-time use and immediate gratification,” says Weinstein. “But conscious gift giving is actually about the long term. It’s about being really aware of the source, the destination and how long that item will have an impact on the overall planet.”

An avid surfer and world traveler, Weinstein only works with other conscious companies. She’s on a mission to inspire others to do the same.

Tip #1 Know Your Values

“Conscious gift giving really starts with you and the person you’re giving to,” said Weinstein. “What do I care about the most? Is it the environment? Is it refugees? Is it having clean food or providing clean water to areas where it’s not available?”

Before you start shopping, it’s a good idea to take stock of what’s really important to you, and create your own checklist.

Weinstein uses her checklist every time she shops, and items have to check at least three boxes before she will purchase anything.

“That checklist helps to create that foundation of getting in the habit.  Because that’s really what it’s all about, changing our habits and our behaviors in a way that supports us and the environment,” said Weinstein.

Tip #2 Look for Brand Transparency

If you find an awesome product, do your research. Go to the company’s website and check the “About” page. Is the company aware of the environmental impact that they’re making? Do they use organic or sustainable materials or packaging? Does your purchase help the company contribute to a good cause? Are their products made from repurposing otherwise wasted material? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may have just found the perfect gift.

“If you can go on a website, and they show you from start to finish how their product was created, where the inspiration for it came from and how it was crafted, you know that you’re buying a really meaningful product that’s going to last longer and have a greater impact in the long run,” said Weinstein.

Tip #3 Shop Local

“My first thought is to not go on Amazon. I know that’s the easiest and what everyone does, but for me I love to go as local as I can,” said Weinstein.

She suggested going to farmer’s markets and local designers and producers for gift ideas. You can also look for nearby events that showcase local artists. Facebook and even Yelp events can be a good resource along with your local weekly newspaper.

Another option is to shop on Etsy, where you can still find unique gifts from local artists with the convenience of shopping online. You can use “local artists” as a search term on Etsy or use this feature to shop from Etsy sellers at local events in your area.

Shopping local supports businesses and consumerism in a way that actually makes a difference, said Weinstein.

Tip #4 Help a friend be plastic free

“It’s not a normal gift to give someone Tupperware. But it’s something that if they have in their car, they don’t have to think about it. They don’t have to do it themselves, and you’re helping them make a greater impact,” said Weinstein. Last year, her brother gave her metal straws, To-Go Cups and glass Tupperware for Christmas.

“Often times those items are things we won’t buy ourselves or that we might lose and not replace.”

Definitely not traditional, but items like reusable cutlery, water bottles (think Hydroflask and Mizu) and cute canvas tote bags can be great gifts because they’re things that people can actually use and keep using long-term.

FEED is another awesome company that makes an assortment of bags and accessories that help fight hunger. Every product has a number stamped on it to indicate the amount of meals or micronutrient packets your purchase provided.

Tip #5 Donate on Someone’s Behalf

What do you give someone who has everything? What about the satisfaction of knowing that they just helped feed a hungry child for a week? Or helped deliver life-saving vaccines to children around the world?

“Telling the story behind the gift gives it this whole other layer that makes it really interesting. If you’re giving back to a non-for-profit organization for example, you get to tell the person you’re giving your gift to, ‘Hey this gift goes so much further,’” said Weinstein.

Another plus, is that making a donation that makes a big impact can be super easy and cheap with these eight awesome apps.

Tip #6 Give Hemp a Chance

Nope it’s not just for hippies and stoners. Hemp has a stigma, but what it should be known for is sustainability.

“The more that we can support hemp items, the more amazing it is for the environment because it’s a plant that takes little to no water. It removes heavy metals from the soil when it’s grown and it’s truly sustainable. You can use every part of the plant,” said Weinstein.

From beauty products to building materials for your home and even drinks, there are countless products made from this “miracle fiber.” Plus, clothing made from hemp is lightweight, absorbent, has three times the tensile strength of cotton and is UV and mold-resistant.

Weinstein recommended SvnSpace (as in the seven leaves of the hemp plant), as a good source for modern hemp products. You can also find good hemp and other sustainable products at eartheasy.

Tip #7 Get Your DIY on

You can avoid the (sometimes) arduous task of holiday shopping altogether by making your own gift.

Start by thinking about what really matters to you and how long that item is going to stay in that person’s life, said Weinstein.

She suggested getting an indigo dye kit at any local craft store to create your own colorful pillow cases.

Avocado pits can also be used to dye vintage lace, cotton scarves, linen or other fabrics a beautiful rose color.

Tie-dye not really your thing? There are many other sustainable DYI gift ideas that you can make by repurposing products you likely already have at home like snow globes from screw-top bottles or bath fizzies using your ice cube tray.

We hope these tips help you make some more sustainable shopping decisions this holiday season or any time of year.

“Through conscious gift giving it’s a really beautiful way to make a long-lasting impression. You can tell a story behind the purchase that you’re making, and it’s a more meaningful gift,” said Weinstein.

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