The holidays are a time of unbridled consumption–and lots of wasted money on unwanted and unneeded gifts, which are shipped around the world at a great cost to the environment. A new initiative called Ungifted, created by a nonprofit with ties to the graphic design firm Pentagram, proposes a new kind of gift giving that’s much more green–and much more sensible.
Ungifted is put on by the decade-old environmental charity Do the Green Thing, which is based out of Pentagram’s London office and was founded by partner Naresh Ramchandani. The website encourages you to “ungift” your friends, family, and loved ones instead of buying them something they don’t need. An ungift is a time-based or experience-based gift, of which Pentagram has illustrated 20 examples. Rather than socks or a lame tie, why not give a joint session of a hip-hop class they’d never do on their own? Or make them a homemade meal? Or take them on an expedition to find the best coffee in their neighborhood?
In typical Pentagram fashion, the Ungifted site is impeccably designed, with adorable illustrations of people cuddling up for a Netflix binge and drunkenly playing a game of Hungry Hippos. The site helps you write your very own Ungifted card, where you can select what terrible gift you’re sparing your friend from receiving and type out a much more environmentally friendly–and usually, much more meaningful–alternative.
Do the Green Thing’s plan is to encourage a nationwide ungifting day on December 1–a so-called #GreenFriday (because if there’s one thing we really need this time of year, it’s days with their own hashtag). The group’s goal–to be “a public service for the planet that uses creativity to tackle climate change”–has produced posters and advertisements urging people to live sustainably, but Ungifted is a more interactive take on its mission of using design to push a more sustainable agenda.
Personally, I would take an indoor picnic on a cold day or a homemade, DIY scavenger over a bar of soap or scented candle in my stocking any day.