Back to the Basics on Gift Giving

The holiday season is upon us and Cabot’s sustainability team has some great ideas to share with you. Gift giving is an age old tradition, dating back thousands of years – even pre-dating civilization. Signs of gift giving are found in cavemen culture as a way to show love and affection. During the Egyptian era, gifts were given to pharaohs to be saved for the afterlife and in Roman times, gifts were symbols of good luck that would be handed down for generations to come, influencing today’s culture. In a way, gift giving is in our DNA.

Winter on the Farm | Cabot Creamery

Why have gifts been so important for all this time? Giving allows us to connect. The gifts we give are a representation of who we are and deliver messages of love, affection, gratitude or best wishes. But in today’s society, gift giving is much more than a simple expression of love or affection. 

Get back to the basics of gift #giving. Click To Tweet

During the holidays, the average American spends almost $500 on gifts. And we waste a lot. Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the holidays, or about 1 million extra tons per week! Food waste increases too – on average, 33 percent more food is thrown away.

Holiday Sustainability | Cabot Creamery

But many families have taken on new (or old depending how you look at it) traditions that bring us back to the original intentions of gift giving – and go figure, they are better not just for our hearts but for our wallets and our planet too. As a co-operative of farm families who have handed down the gift of farming and quality family time for generations, the idea of gifts that give back has never really been lost, it’s sort of the way of life on the farm. Here we’d like to share with you some new ideas for your holiday season. Gifts that are homemade, gifts of time and experiences and gifts that support a more sustainable world.

Sustainable Giving

Give gifts that give back to our planet and people

  • Check out MiiR, they sell water bottles with a mission to give back to organizations who support clean water programs.
  • Klean Kanteen and Patagonia give profits back to nonprofits who support positive environmental change.
  • Raven + Lily bring products from developing countries around the globe to markets in the U.S.

Look for companies that support sustainable business

RE-use and Re-cycle

  • Download the Yerdle app on your iPhone or Android and upload your stuff to swap with others, you can get new-to-you gifts without spending money. (They are also a B Corp!)
  • Buy from companies that use recycled material, like Rareform, making backpacks out of recycled billboards.
  • Preserve makes kitchenware and toiletries out of recycled yogurt containers.

Homemade Gifts

Edible gifts – Give something yummy!

    • Make something sweet to show you care – your time spent doing something for someone else is often the most meaningful gift.
    • Make a gift basket of favorite foods (don’t forget to put in your favorite Cabot Cheese product!)
    • Re-purpose old stuff into new things (*warning, this list has some really cool ideas, but we won’t judge if you can’t DIY a piano into an outdoor fountain!)
    • Check magazines like Real Simple, they often have some fun [simpler] DIY holiday gift ideas.

Cabot Apple Pie

Experiential Gifts

    • A study by the Pew Research center announced that almost 2 million American families will opt out of gift giving this year – instead – they will spend TIME together. 
    • REI, a fellow Co-op, launched their #optoutside campaign asking their members and customers to head outdoors on Black Friday instead of shopping. Check out their site to locate great places to explore the outdoors near you (it’s a really cool directory!).
    • Children can give coupons for their time as Christmas presents in ways such as taking on extra chores, cooking dinners, watching a younger sibling or giving plenty of hugs and kisses. 
    • Give a homemade card with coupon for music lessons, art classes, a spa day, a trip to a state park, or tickets to a sporting event or play. This is a perfect way to spend quality time with family and friends.   

Great Brook Farm | Cabot Creamery

10 Tips for a Better way to Give by Cutting Down on Waste

  1. Go earth-friendly with your gift wrapping – use scarves, handkerchiefs and bandannas, old posters and maps, Newspapers (the comic sections works great). 
  2. Give a present in a present by placing gifts inside reusable containers like cookie tins, baskets or wrap gift in cloth napkins or kitchen towels.
  3. Use re-useable or re-used gift bags.
  4. Replace ribbons and bows with natural evergreens, berries, dried flowers (and you can compost them after the gifts are unwrapped).
  5. Use wrapping paper made from recycled paper – and save your paper this year for next year’s wrapping.
  6. Start a bow box where you collect wrapping decorations to use year after year.
  7. Re-use shipping materials as much as you can.
  8. Buy outdoor light strands that are wired in parallel. If one bulb goes bad, the others still work, so you won’t be throwing away “bad” strands or, use solar lights!
  9. Don’t wrap gifts. Hide them and give the recipient clues. Make the search a treasure hunt.
  10. Freeze food before it goes bad, all those extra cookies can go in the freezer for post-holiday treats!

Recycle, compost and recycle some more – check out our Recycling and Composting Tips & Tricks from past Cabot Sustainability blog posts.

  Recycling | Cabot Creamery

Give for Someone Else

  • 4fortomorrow encourages people to pledge four hours of volunteer time or four hours of wages a month to help immigrants, people of color, refugees, women, LGBTQ persons and those in poverty or to combat climate change. 
  • Invest in your family and friends. Instead of giving a gift, contribute to a child’s savings account, education IRA or give them a U.S. Savings Bond. 
  • Give a monetary donation to a local charity in someone else’s name. Many people feel good knowing that they are helping out someone during the holidays.
  • Combine giving for someone else with family time – volunteer as a family at your local food shelf and log your hours on our Reward Volunteers site or app, we’ll even give you gifts back for your good deeds done.

Reward Volunteers | Cabot Creamery

So there you have it, a whole new spin on gift giving this year. And remember, one thoughtful gift is better than many unwanted gifts – whether it is something you buy, re-purpose, make or do together. We wish you the best for a holiday season full of gifts that give back to you and your family, your wallet and our world.

Check out a fellow B-Corp’s “Gifts for Good Guide” for even more ideas!

bcorpCabot Creamery Cooperative is the world’s first cheese maker and dairy cooperative to achieve B Corporation Certification, a validation of its attention to environmental and social impacts on stakeholders.

If you would like to learn more about Cabot Creamery Co-operative, our sustainability initiatives, or some of our 1,000 farm families, click here.

You can also sign-up for our Newsletters.


Ann Hoogenboom is Cabot’s Sustainability Coordinator and gets to share the latest and greatest in sustainability news from our farm families. As a Vermont native and lover of all things green, she’s proud of the socially responsible business role that Cabot plays for our cows, our creamery, our community and our customers.

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