Use the three R’s for holiday gift buying

Flickr photo by Steve Snodgrass

We all have heard of the three R’s in school: reduce, reuse and recycle. Most of us do the last one, placing our tubs out on the curb once or twice a week. In this tough economic time, many also reduce what they buy and reuse what they have — either by choice or out of necessity.

Why not use the three R’s for your holiday gift giving?

Here is how:


  • Stop over-giving. Do your girlfriends really need another lotion bottle this year? Do the kids need another small toy in their stocking they will use and throw out?
  • Find out what people really want for Christmas, or might even need. Then buy them those things.
  • Keep an eye on the packaging. Don’t buy overly packaged items if you are taking them out of it to compile the gift.
  • Send e-cards instead of mailing them.


  • Bring your reusable tote or basket when you get gifts. (This also counts as a way to reduce — not using plastic bags at the stores.)
  • Find the old tubs of wrapping paper, tissue paper, boxes and bags and use them for gifts. My mother always kept the bags and boxes given to her to reuse at another time, instead of spending money on a new one.
  • Do you have another way of packaging the item, whether in a nice cloth or a paper bag? Decorate the packages in a unique way.
  • Do you have items that were gifted to you that you don’t use or don’t like? If so, regift! What about that mug that barely gets used? Gift it to a friend with some tea bags and honey sticks!
  • Have an artist in the family? Have him or her create the holiday cards to send to friends and family if you are using snail mail.


  • Have items around the house you need to get rid of, but can’t gift to friends and family? Donate! There are many thrift stores in the area.
  • Speaking of thrift stores, shop at them for gifts! On Black Friday, I went to these stores with the in-laws and found many nice items for cheap! You get nice items for a discount, you give a second life to items (not wasting them!) and your money goes to a good cause, such as the Salvation Army or the Junior League.
  • Still recycle packaging if you can’t reuse it.

Check out these DIY gift ideas from staffer Stacia Fleegal.
The York Free Store will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the York Friends Meeting House. Get some holiday gifts for free, or donate in the morning for this good cause.

Bethany Fehlinger

Bethany Fehlinger is a journalist in the Design Center at the York Daily Record. She is a graduate of Penn State University and has been a vegetarian and geek for more than six years. Twitter: @Wonder_veggie

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1 Response

  1. December 1, 2012

    […] forget to keep the Earth in mind when shopping for your family and friends — reduce, reuse and recycle with these tips that cover everything from wrapping paper to […]

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