DIY gift tag

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. But what if you’d rather opt out of holiday shopping altogether? How do you show you care without buying fancy gifts? We talk to a sustainability expert about ways to repurpose items we already have and with a woman who hasn’t bought anything new for the past five years. What are your tips for a non-consumer holiday?

Alternatives to Buying Gifts for the Holidays 23 November,2012forum

Adam Werbach, co-Founder of, a site where friends can share and swap items; also the author of "Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto," and the founder and CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, a global sustainability agency specializing in sustainability consulting, brand activation and employee engagement
Katy Wolk-Stanley, The Non Consumer Advocate; she blogs at where she tracks her commitment to not buying anything new for the past five years
Beth Terry, author of "Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too;" also runs the blog

  • This is a great, important idea. For the last 4 years, I’ve been pending to receive SSDI benefits, but in the meantime, I have been surviving off of essentially nothing; after paying my rent on my $600 share of a flat and my barest bones of bills (no cell phone, no car, no restaurants, movies, or new clothes ever), I have literally nothing leftover, but have learned to survive comfortably with the minimum of consumer angst. I do receive EBT–that’s food stamps–and since cooking is my favorite hobby, I give food-related gifts including traditional baking but also I use my EBT to purchase gorgeous gift baskets at the Heart of the City Farmers Market.

    When my financial situation started, I couldn’t imagine how I would manage and be able to keep current. I now know that it’s quite simple to be content with very little, and that it has kept my mind MORE active rather than bored or slack.

  • Bob Fry

    Google for your community. Offer and ask for items that are usable but unused.

    Adults in our family now give to charities in others’ names, fulfilling the spirit of Christmas (helping the poor) and avoiding the problem of getting and giving stuff nobody wants.

  • Benjamin Patterson

    One of the guests mentioned an Iphone app that can be used to share stuff among friends instead of buying. Can anyone remember the name it?

    • Bob Fry


  • One of your guests brought up the concept of giving up ownership of the gift you give in the spirit of re-gifting. Re-gifting has become either jokey or actually a dire insult in this age of the new New NEW. An ex brother-in-law who was an avid and talented gardener was so offended by a re-gifted set of handmade gardening tools given to me by a truly oddball Irish traveller, that he stopped attending any social event in which my fiancee, myself and gift giving would be involved. He told us that he felt like we didn’t value him highly and that we were giving him something “dirty and used”. Since I’ve never operated this way, essentially living in vintage clothes and home furnishings, I’ve had to learn to understand that there are those out there who were raised to think that used goods are less than worthless and dirty or unhygienic, and sadly may be insulting to some people.

  • Kyle

    I’m wondering why you HAVE TO have a facebook in order to use Yerdle… that’s annoying.

  • Jennifer

    What ideas do your guests have for teaching children that receiving & giving second-hand things is just as satisfying as consuming new stuff? It seems to me that passing on non-consumer values and skills to the next generation is crucial, yet youth culture is so oriented to having, wanting, and above all buying.

  • Kimberly

    I think you didn’t really answer the question the caller (Claudia) brought up about computer obsolescence. The problem she was getting at wasn’t about using new technology but about the fact that your platform won’t work anymore after 2-3 years. My Mac won’t upgrade anymore after 5 years so I can’t access the internet. This is the problem.

    • The Electronics Takeback Coalition is an organization pushing companies to design products to last and to take responsibility for the full life cycle of the products they produce. They often have campaigns directed at specific companies and they push for regulations for green design. In fact, right now they have a campaign targeted at a couple of computer companies asking them, among other things, to “Make it last. Products should last longer and be upgradeable – even when the operating software changes.” Get on their mailing list for updates and action alerts:

      • MaryTinsa

        That is SO interesting. Yerdle doesn’t support Internet Explorer.

  • It was fun to be on the show today. I also want to mention that even in this age of planned obsolescence, there are still ways to get things repaired instead of chucking them out and buying new. Via Craigslist, I have found a great computer repair guy in my neighborhood, as well as people who helped me fix a broken hair dryer, rice cooker, and other gadgets. Craigslist is a fantastic resource.

    I have also used Freecycle but have found that it’s only as good as the group moderator, and unfortunately, there have some instances of moderators that make it difficult for participants to share. I’ll be interested to see if Yerdle is easier to use.

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