Green giving is a great way to give gifts. Holiday gifts and parties can be sustainable and sensational. Read all about some great ideas to go green this holiday season and all year long.

Photo by The Upcycle Company

Your greatest holiday gift achievement ever might be as close as your recycling bin or craft room. Rather than pouring your hard-earned cash into trinkets your loved ones might toss, why not get creative?

We asked the experts to share some of their favorite tips, trends, and tricks for boosting sustainability all season long. They suggest ways to save money, delight family and friends, and keep waste out of landfills. One of the hottest trends to hit the cold-weather, gift-giving season is giving old fabric new life, according to Katie Carpenter, executive director of Perennial. The St. Louis-based nonprofit workshop and classroom teaches people how to create all manner of DIY projects, diverting more than 12,000 pounds of materials from landfills.

Photo by Perennial

“I’ve seen a huge increase in consumers wanting to repair or alter clothes and avoid fast fashion,” Katie says. “Our sewing machine basics classes are constantly selling out, and it is amazing to see a resurgence in sewing, mending, and quilting communities.”

Katie also suggests giving experiences—local classes, gift cards, and tickets to events—rather than things.

For those who purchase gifts, look for items packaged using a single material such as cardboard or glass, says Meagan Huth, chief marketing officer at The Upcycling Company, a glass recycling company. The company is in the planning stage for an expansion into Missouri.

“Packaging that is made from a solo material is more likely to actually be recycled into new products,” Meagan explains. Communities and businesses are moving away from the once-popular recycling systems that combined metals, glass, plastics, and cardboard. The reason? Between 30 and 70 percent of aggregated recycling gets contaminated, meaning a large percentage of it ends up dumped in a landfill instead of being reused.


  • Ask guests to bring leftover containers. Meagan suggests that mason jars are perfect for sending family and friends home with goodies for their fridge or shelves.
Leftover containers
Photo by The Upcycle Company
  • Create a recycling collection location. Encourage guests to place their glass and other recyclable materials in a single location, such as a kitchen counter or a dedicated plastic tub. Label it so they know exactly where it should go.
  • Turn everyday items into holiday decor. “Rip worn out clothes or fabric scraps into strips to make colorful garlands, or ask your local coffee shop if they have extra burlap bags you can turn into wreaths,” Katie says.
  • Use regular dishware. Put your dishwasher to work and use regular cutlery and plates instead of disposables.
Regular dishware
Photo by Freepik
  • Wrap gifts in reusable fabric. You can find free fabric-wrapping tutorials online. Or Katie suggests using gift bags while avoiding writing directly on the paper. That way, the person receiving the gift can reuse the bag next time.
Reusable fabric
Photo by Freepik


Seek out more recycling inspiration in Missouri and beyond. Katie encourages shoppers seeking sustainable gifts to check out companies such as Constructive Playthings based in Grandview, and St. Louis-based The Social Goods Marketplace and Little Cliff.

Be intentional about the gifts you give,” she says. “Handmade and secondhand gifts show just as much (if not more) love as buying new.”

Find creative inspiration at Perennial,, and The Upcycling Company,

Check out the “green hospitality” places you can stay.

Article originally published in the November/December 2023 of Missouri Life.