Sustainable Goals for the Holiday Season: Gifting, Packaging, and Beyond

Sustainability doesn’t have to be tedious. This holiday season, make reducing fun with zero-waste gifting.
Gauraa at SmartGift
October 22nd 2021Oct 22, 2021

The festive season is swiftly approaching. This year, you’ve resolved to celebrate the people nearest and dearest to you with a carefully chosen, budget-friendly gift you hope they won’t return. The future of gifting bears good news: SmartGift has partnered with Klarna to allow shoppers to buy and send gifts instantly from any Klarna merchant and pay for them in four interest-free payments.

SmartGift has also announced the launch of Hero, an end-to-end platform designed to transform corporate gifting for the future of work. With a robust, powerful, and easy-to-use platform, Hero lets companies show appreciation for their employees and clients throughout the holiday season and beyond. Now, you can solve the pain points of corporate engagement with a vast range of branded products, customization, recipient preferences, and — of course — instant digital delivery.

While these recent headlines and partnerships encourage human connections through gifting, there’s another aspect that’s equally important here: human connections with the environment. SmartGifts provide sustainable gifting that benefits merchants, consumers, and the environment at scale.

The year 2021 saw record-breaking holiday returns. This past January, UPS announced it was expecting a bounceback of 8.75 million returned gifts — a 23% increase from the preceding year. SmartGift aims to help shoppers gift wisely by granting recipients the ability to choose and customize their perfect gift.

With built-in steps that reduce returns, SmartGift inherently decreases the environmental waste associated with extra packaging material and shipping costs required to send gifts back and re-deliver new ones. Whether it’s consumer or corporate gifting, we aim to reduce waste and overhead costs, striving for both environmental sustainability and economic sustainability.

Why Is Sustainability Important?

Sustainability improves the quality of our contemporary lives, protects our ecosystem, and preserves natural resources for future generations. Corporate sustainability is generally associated with manufacturing, logistics, reduced energy use, customer service, and beyond.

Sustainable businesses can make a lot of simple choices to reduce their carbon footprint. This includes not sending waste to landfills, switching to sustainable materials, replacing fluorescent tubes with LED bulbs, hiring waste treatment contractors, and — during this time of year — giving sustainable corporate gifts for clients and employees.

Americans throw away 25% more trash during the holiday period, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, than any other time of year. According to Stanford University’s Peninsula Sanitary Service, this extra waste adds up to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week.

This year, in addition to picking out the perfect gift for your friends, family, and colleagues, let’s also resolve to reduce the waste that comes with gifting practices.

Let’s take a look at four ways we can engage in sustainable gifting this upcoming holiday season.

Eliminate Packaging and Wrapping

We know you’re already looking forward to staying up late into the night, hunched over a table, wrapping gifts for friends and family, tying neat bows around presents while no one is watching. But holiday gift wrapping is one of the biggest culprits of waste and excess, with over five billion pounds of holiday waste ending up in landfills.

This year, give a present to the earth by eliminating the waste that comes with gift wrapping. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to compromise your holiday traditions.

When you send with SmartGift, you can pick an item you’d like to gift from one of our brand partners, write a thoughtful gift message, and send it via email, text, or DMs. Once the recipient opens your message, they can read your well wishes and virtually unwrap the gift on their device whenever they like. Once the gift is made perfect, you can pay confidently knowing you got the right gift and the order ships to the recipient’s desired delivery address.

Now you can preserve the surprise and magic of gift-giving while also engaging in sustainable practices and sustainable packaging!

Minimize Your Holiday Carbon Footprint

According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of Americans return unwanted holiday gifts within a month of receiving them. What most shoppers don’t know is that shipping returned goods leaves a trail of pollution, contributing substantially to greenhouse gas emissions.

This doesn’t mean you need to forgo festive gifts this year. By getting the gift right the first time, you can eliminate the waste of an unwanted purchase without pumping out more planet-warming emissions and pollutants.

SmartGift’s electronic delivery has multiple steps in place to preserve the spirit and tradition of festive gifting. You still surprise your giftee with a digitally wrapped gift, and they can customize their gift before it is paid for or ever leaves for delivery. This reduces the emissions associated with driving to return the gift, or shipping it back to the manufacturer. Plus, it solves the awkward logistics of asking for gift receipts.

Additionally, our free, digital greeting cards let you recreate the sentiments of the season and delight of traditional greeting cards by sprinkling in holiday cheer, all without any measurable paper waste! Remember: if everyone sends one less card this year, it would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.

Encourage Corporate Regifting Capabilities

Corporate holiday gifts can create an immediate emotional connection between the company and employee — but so often they can feel impersonal or homogenized and are often forget and disposed of, contributing to more waste.

This is why we’ve created Hero, a corporate gifting platform for tomorrow’s workplace, so companies can send the right gift for everyone and every occasion.

Our corporate gift service gives recipients access to gift baskets, company-branded swag, food, flowers, spirits, and much more. Much like SmartGift, your recipient has the option of customizing or swapping their gift for a different product in your selected gift collection, choosing an item that is most useful to them. Additionally, they have the option of regifting the product to someone else — or making a charitable donation instead of accepting your gift.

Unlike most corporate gifting companies, our mission is to reduce waste at every step while ensuring low overhead costs for your company. Now, you can send corporate gifts for clients and employees without taking a hit on your annual sustainability report!

Ensure Sustainable Development and Company Growth with End-to-End Analytics and Measurable ROI

Monitoring your gifting impact and ROI can help you assess the growth of your company and employee morale. This is why we prioritize end-to-end visibility on every stage of the gifting process. With Hero, you can track how many recipients have opened their gifts, accepted them, or traded them for new ones. This helps HR gauge important aspects such as brand recognition, engagement, and company loyalty.

Whether you’re looking for one-to-many bulk gifting campaigns on holidays, a vast selection of offerings at virtual holiday events through Gift Trays, or Automations on birthdays and accomplished milestones to make gifting simpler, Hero has you covered with sustainable gifting practices.

With the recent rise of remote work, COVID-19 related travel restrictions, and long-distance relationships, we know how important gifting can be throughout the holiday season. Gifts can be the perfect vehicle to recognize your employees for their hard work, reconnect with business contacts you haven’t seen in a long time, or let your clients know you’re thinking of them.

This holiday season, add sustainable goals to your list by opting for personal and business gifts from companies who are mindful of their environmental impact. Our list of sustainable brand partners include companies like Timberland, JanSport, Brilliant Earth, Hanna Andersson, Smartwool, Kendra Scott, bareMinerals, and more.

Together, we can work to keep the cheer without all the waste.

For more ecommerce business ideas and solutions, check out the SmartGift platform and request a demo for Hero here.

SmartGift’s Holiday Merchant Series aims to assist retailers with top gifting problems like high return rates, unsustainable practices, and non-engaging gift funnels by expanding their virtual capabilities.