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Plant Chicago Holiday Circular Economy Challenge

During the holiday season, it can be easy to get wrapped up (pun intended) in all the excitement and slack on our sustainability commitments. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate up to 25% more waste during the holiday season. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. While we wholeheartedly support reusing materials like comics or old maps for wrapping presents, why not take it one step further?

Imagine how much paper could be saved if we wrapped zero presents this year! Take Plant Chicago’s Circular Economy Challenge and refrain from gifting physical items entirely!

Not having beautifully wrapped presents at your holiday gathering might sound odd, but no need to worry; giving the gift of experiences can be just as exciting as tangible items. More importantly, it’s a great way to help cultivate local circular economies!

Here’s WHY:

  1. Non-physical gifts don’t need to be wrapped! This saves time, money, and valuable resources.

  2. By giving local experiences, you’re supporting small businesses in our local economy and encouraging your loved ones to explore their own backyards.

  3. While you may not be giving your loved one a physical thing to hold on to, the gift of knowledge and/or fun memories can be treasured forever! If you know your loved on wants something tangible, opt for a make and take home workshop.

  4. Experiences, memberships, and/or gift cards can be purchased from the comfort of your home! No need to drive to chaotic stores, stand in line for hours, or stress about gift receipts/returns.

  5. Many people want to engage in sustainability or circular economy principles but put it off as a perceived extra cost. By signing them up for that service they always talk about, you can be the motivating force!

Check out this list of local gift ideas that create zero landfill waste! (Some of them even divert landfill waste!) 

Chicago Tool Library Membership

Rather than get someone a new toolbox, give access to hundreds of tools! One of our favorite things about CTL is their definition of “tool” is very loose. With a CTL membership, not only can you rent hammers and drills, you also can rent a camping tent, a pasta maker, film cameras, and so much more! Learn more about how to gift a membership here.

DIY Workshop Tickets

You could buy someone a cutting board, or you could teach them how to make their own! Chicago has lots of awesome DIY organizations. Check out Rebuilding Exchange, Green City Market, Urban Growers Collective, Chicago Candle Co., and many more across the city for all sorts of educational, make it and take it style workshops!

Compost Pick Up Services

Give the gift of a better smelling trash can that needs to be emptied less frequently with a weekly, biweekly, or monthly compost pick up program! For as little as $15 a month, hire a local company to pick up organic scraps to keep nutrients local! Chicago has a couple different companies who offer services, including (but not limited to): The Urban Canopy, Healthy Soil Compost, and WasteNot Compost.

Museum Memberships

Chicago is lucky to have so many incredible museums, and we bet you haven’t been to all of them! A family membership to one of Chicago’s museums is a full year stocked with exciting day trips, and being members can get you access to cool behind the scenes opportunities! Check out the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry and more!

Other shared services

Signing somebody up for a shared service like Divvy helps keep cars off the road. Many people talk about signing up for the service but don’t act on it! You can sign them up for a trial period and let them test it out for themselves.

Make a Donation on Someone’s Behalf

Most non profits allow for folks to make donations in someone else’s name! We won’t go as far as to tell you who you should donate to, but in case you were wondering, Plant Chicago is a registered 501c3 and all donations are tax exempt.

What else? Do you have any zero landfill waste gift ideas?

Share them with us! We can add them to this list.


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