Zeit statt Zeug – Don’t buy, give time

The platform for the most natural thing in the world

A third cell phone, a fifth scarf, a sixth bottle of perfume. When it comes to finding gifts for others, we often end up giving them unnecessary things. But in fact there is something that is worth much more than any consumer good time spent together.

Zeit statt Zeug (Don’t buy, give time) is a gift-giving initiative which inspires people to give the most valuable thing they have – time. The online platform is designed like a conventional web shop. However, rather than browsing through a shop full of the usual products, users find alternative and completely free time gifts. These presents, which are things like "A trip to the zoo rather than a cuddly toy" or "Fresh forest air rather than perfume", can be simply selected online and sent as an e-card with a personal message.

Anybody wanting to give time rather than buying something can only do so if they specify a date for spending that time together. This creates a sense of obligation, preventing the gift from becoming the umpteenth voucher that disappears to the bottom of a drawer and making it an event that really does take place.

And there are good reasons why a shared experience is a better gift than things. The consumption of each and every one of us contributes substantially to the climate crisis. With our purchasing behavior, we determine what is produced and which raw materials are used in the process. And although we buy many things, we often actually use only a few them. With ‘Don’t buy, give time’, therefore, we can kill two birds with one stone. We give the gift of time and show consideration to our loved ones. At the same time the environment benefits from a drop in consumption. 

"Without a profound change in the economy and lifestyles, we won't get through the 21st Century, which is getting warmer and warmer. Change your way of thinking. Change your way of gift-giving." 

Harald Welzer, Sociologist and Social Psychologist

The initiative appeals to many people – the different time gifts have been given almost 170,000 times to date. A loyal community has emerged, in particular on Facebook. But the idea hasn't only spread there. In 2016, three retailers – Edeka, Otto, and Sainsbury's – copied “Zeit statt Zeug”, integrating the concept of giving time into their Christmas campaigns; proof that early on Scholz & Volkmer addressed a topic that is relevant for society. It has triggered a shift in the way brands act. 

If you would like us to help you develop an idea for a sustainable gift, get in touch! We have already come up with ideas for ProGroup, Tirol Werbung, and the Federal Environment Agency. And we have plenty more.

Don’t buy, give time


Yamina Hartmann

Product Management

+49 (611) 180 99-59


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