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Sustainable souvenirs make for way better gift-giving ideas. Allow me to explain more in detail why that is. Whether you’re the cool Aunt flying in for graduation or that travel friend with superb taste, the pressure to buy memorable souvenirs from exotic destinations is real. As is the internal drive to one-up ourselves with the next gift-giving opportunity. Am I right, wayfarers?

Some opt to leave souvenir shopping for last, i.e., duty-free in the airport on the way home. While others plan stops not on the itinerary with hopes of purchasing that perfect gift. But after gallivanting the globe with only 60L of belongings for years at a time, I learned a thing or two. For starters, I learned the sad fact that most people love getting stuff, but that’s all it is though; stuff.

With that in mind, why not shop smarter for said “stuff”?

Sustainable Souvenirs a guide to shopping more sustainably for travel gifts

Looking for more awesome sustainable travel tips from Bag Lady, Meredith San Diego? Then head over and check out her author profile for more great posts like:

Why shop for sustainable souvenirs while traveling?

The sensible response to why one should shop for sustainable souvenirs while on vacation also happens to be a question; why not? Shopping sustainably means shopping locally. When tourists shop locally, the money goes directly into the pockets of those that need it most. 

When communities enjoy the presence of tourism, a wonderful harmony begins to play. The melody of this beautiful music is generated by the movement of that cash within the community. The jobs and opportunities it supports. And the song itself reflects the Sympatico of sustainable tourism, supporting local artisans, educators, and cultural traditions.

Sustainable souvenir guide woman making bowls

Shopping for sustainable souvenirs while vacationing also means getting creative, especially when purchasing souvenirs for yourself. I encourage you to lean into that imagination, however. Just remember to be mindful of customs laws, of course.

Tips for selecting sustainable souvenirs as gifts

Where we spend our money as tourists matters. That is to say that how we support tourism around the globe also matters. Dozens upon dozens of regions on this earth depend on tourism; some of them upwards of 80%. That’s a big deal to the communities that either suffer or profit from the presence of tourism. 

That truth only serves as further proof of the importance of how and where we spend our money as tourists. Here are some suggestions to consider before beginning to shop for sustainable souvenirs:

  • Pay close attention to what is being purchased. 
  • Is it crafted with locally and/or sustainably sourced materials?
  • Avoid purchasing items made from non-recyclable plastics or that include harmful chemicals. 

In parts of the world often flooded by single-use plastics, sustainable souvenirs are made from repurposed materials. I’ve seen earrings made from corkscrews, old credit cards, or beer bottle caps in Thailand. Planter vases made from repurposed waste in Laos. And almost ordered a wooden end table incorporating old wine bottles in Costa Rica once. 

Sustainable jewelry as a sustainable souvenir

Humankind can be mega resourceful in this regard and I for one, am here for it. These practical purchases support the artisan, yes, but also support the notion of repurposing. Nothing says sustainable like one of the three “R’s”: recycle, reduce, and repurpose.

Want more sustainable souvenir gift-giving ideas for your next destination? Then let’s continue.

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5 sustainable souvenir gift-giving ideas

Open to more specific suggestions for sustainable gift-giving ideas? Perfect because this carefully crafted blog is here to help. Consider these sustainable souvenirs for better gift-giving:

  1. Postcards: Someone’s first thought might be, how is gifting postcards sustainable? They require air travel, petrol, etc.… Fair point, but they are sustainable in the sense that they are compact. They can also be bought in large amounts and gifted to many people in various parts of the globe. They’re thoughtful and timeless. and always put a smile on the receiver’s face.
  2. Food items: Artisan pasta or locally produced sauces for the win. This practical gift-giving idea is a solid go-to when in a pinch. Easily executed at the beginning or tail end of a trip with a jaunt through duty-free. Nothing says cultural exchange like a taste of the culture itself. 
  3. Jewelry: Let me be clear; I’m not talking gemstones or gold here. I’m talking about hand-crafted earrings from that local artist on the promenade. Think macrame anklets, earrings, or bracelets with earth stones. A unique gift from an exotic location would make anyone blush with glee. This is an easy choice of sustainable souvenirs when shopping for oneself because they can be worn vs packed.
  4. Accessories: These kinds of sustainable souvenirs are a way better gift-giving idea for men. Wallets, belts, murses (man-purses) as examples. Items that are versatile and compliment the receiver’s style are great sustainable souvenir gift-giving ideas. Not to mention foreign textiles rank high on request lists of loved ones. So don’t be shy; support several local shops to spread the money around multiple businesses.
  5. Experiences: Had a blast at that eco-lodge? Fell in love with that sustainable-based city tour? Inquire after gift cards or gift credits and give the gift of a shared cross-cultural experience with someone. It’s an entirely different level of magic to share similar stories from an exotic location with someone.

Artisan food and pasta as a sustainable gift idea

With these suggestions, anyone would look forward to shopping in anticipation of giving. 

Gifting sustainably is way better

Primarily because it’s supporting local communities by spending money intently vs frivolously. Shopping for sustainably sourced goods, and giving the gift of an experience is proof of why gifting sustainably is way better. I told you I would explain it in more detail. And now I have.

In the meantime, allow these helpful tips to guide your gift-giving prowess in a more sustainable direction. Giving gifts that were shopped sustainably during your travels is empowering. Take it one step further and go eco with the gift wrapping, too. Reuse old paper bags or newspapers and dry out some citrus slices for decor. The opportunities for resourcefulness are endless.

Want one last sustainable gift-giving idea to stimulate your creative juices? How about gifting a subscription to an eco-box to a friend overwhelmed by the sustainability movement. Nothing screams sustainable living quite like showing someone else the way. If we all did more sustainable activities in larger numbers, well, that’s a world I look forward to living in. 

Where in the world will you practice these sustainable shopping suggestions? 

Sustainable Souvenirs a guide to shopping more sustainably for travel gifts
Sustainable souvenirs are gifts that everyone will love