4 Sustainable Gift Giving Options in Austin (and beyond)

Fa la la la-oh-my-god we’re so close to the holidays. How are you doing with that shopping list? Looking to hire a few elves to help build some toys in your garage? No need. Also those elves are really busy right now up in the North Pole. What’s the saying? Our lack of planning isn’t their emergency? Yeah. That. 

Ok enough guilt. We don’t need more of that in the world. But what we DO need is more sustainable practices in business and retail to address our climate crisis. And the holidays bring tidings of comfort and joy (and consumerism). But let’s focus on the joy and how we can use our purchasing power towards sustainable gifts for our loved ones, so the earth keeps spinning ‘round and ‘round. 

Give the Gift of Global Impact

10 Thousand Villages on Burnet Road is a great place to start if you don’t know exactly where to begin your sustainable gift-giving journey. The mission of Ten Thousand Villages is to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair-trading relationships. 

They’ve been in Austin for 15 years — first forming on S. Congress — and for a decade and a half has been providing ethically sourced handcrafted global gifts, global-to-local events and celebrations, plus Fair Trade education to the greater Austin community.

Plus, they have some of the most unique finds in the entire city, great for your hippie Grandma AND your not-so-hippie Uncle. 

Keep an Austin of local art tradition alive

The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is an Austin staple for this time of year. It’s a HUGE holiday market that supports local artists, exclusively. 

The Bazaar features the work of more than 200 artists offering a wide variety of imaginative and beautiful gifts. You can expect to find paintings, photography, prints, sculptures, jewelry, clothing, accessories, glassworks, ceramics, and more gifts you can’t find anywhere else.

Whether your budget is large or small, you’ll find something for yourself, for your best friend, or for that impossible-to-shop-for relative. 

Shop sustainable fashion

Sustainable fashion is hard, y’all. It feels exclusive because it is so darn expensive. But quality over quantity, right? Sustainable fashion not only helps the climate crisis continue, (as NPR’s WBUR Here and Now reported, 60% of synthetic fabrics are made of fossil fuels and 85% of that material will end up in landfills. The global fashion industry emits 1.7 billion tons of CO2 per year — more than the amount produced by international flights and shipping.

Depressing, right? 

As consumers we can make our voices heard through our wallets. 

So if you’re able to afford 10 things from a fast fashion establishment, think about how long it will last, how much it costs to you AND the environment. Chances are those 10 items aren’t necessary and you can opt in for 3 or 4 sustainable pieces from one of these local companies

And then of course there’s always second-hand, (ATX is great for that), or joining the Fashion Revolution.

The gift of experience

Experience gives us all a chance to grow in ways that we can only imagine. Experiences are a great gift for your family and friends because experience does not end up somewhere in their attic, or forgotten-about-closet-shelf. Or worse, in a landfill. 

And experiences can be workshops that ALSO support local creatives. Supporting local art can mean more than gifting a local painting or photograph (though we love that, see #2), it can also mean gifting art classes like dance, writing, mindful movement, yoga, drawing, photography, podcasting, or pretty much anything you can think of! 

The gift of experience is sure to get your friends jazzed around their 2020 resolutions.



This time of year is full of magic and well honestly, stress. But let’s not let the stresses of the holidays outweigh the magic. We have the power to vote with our wallets, and that means collectively we can control the demand for sustainable practices in the retail world. 

With the caveat to not beat yourself up, because there are big companies (and governments) that need to be pull their weight in creating a more sustainable planet. But if there’s ever a time to believe in the magic of change, it’s during the holidays.