Christmas is a time of giving, but sometimes when we try and give gifts to ‘save the world’ we can end up sounding a little preachy, like a nagging Mrs Claus on Christmas Eve – “Santa don’t be late, cut back on the milk and cookies, stop being mean to the elves!” – and so on and so forth. Furthermore, sometimes eco-gifts can be somewhat tacky, and people think that you haven’t actually put any effort into it, and have just wrapped up a pinecone you found on the street. So this holiday season why don’t we try to get off our high horses (or reindeer), and try to give sustainable and socially responsible gifts that are fun and whimsical (like an elf who’s had too many candy canes), and also memorable.
So in the tradition of our 6 Friday Things series, here are six great gift ideas to inspire a sustainable and socially responsible Christmas (that won’t make you seem like a cheap old Grinch!)
1. The Gift of Philanthropy
Some people don’t have a great need for material possessions; either that or they’re the person who already has everything. For them, donating in their name can be a fantastic gift, however if you show up and just present them with a piece of paper saying ‘hey you donated to this cause’, you might be taking all the fun out of it. Donating straight to Oxfam/World Vision/Greenpeace is fantastic, but the real pleasure comes from having a connection with the organisation you are donating to. So with that in mind, why not be a real Christmas Cracker and get your loved one a donation gift card from Karma Currency, an organisation that provides gift vouchers to donate to not just a range of charitable organisations, but specific projects as well. So give the gift of actual giving, and make it a really personal experience – watch their video below to find out more!
2. The Gift of Sponsorship
When you donate to an organisation, sometimes it can feel like an intangible experience, which is why sponsorship or adoption is a great idea. You can sponsor a child through any number of organisations – click here to see where you can sponsor a child – and it’s a great way to present a gift to someone, and show how they are helping someone in need; the receiver can become emotionally invested and feel like they are lending a helping hand to a real person. Another idea is to adopt an endangered animal, or one that you would never realistically be able to own – click here to see where you can virtually adopt an animal – remember a pet isn’t just forever, it’s for Christmas! Wait…no that’s not right…it’s the other way around. TOO MUCH EGG NOG I’M GETTING CONFUSED. Alternatively just adopt an octopus and be the envy of all your friends! (Of course you get a fun plush toy octopus which you can pretend is the real thing. AMAZING)
3. The Gift of Fair Trade
Fair trade gifts are great for people who have travelled the globe and like to bring some culture into their homes. It’s also a great way to support cottage industry around the world (including the North Pole!) – you’ll find that all of these products are sourced and produced ethically, are environmentally friendly and are made with much Christmassy love and joy. Two great Aussie companies that do this are Tribes & Nations and the Oxfam Fair Trade Shop Many companies will donate part proceeds from your purchase to people in need, or even donate one unit of their product to developing communities for every unit sold – here’s a list of companies that do this, and it’s a great way for your gift to give that little bit more.
4. The Gift of Experience
Giving someone an opportunity to experience something amazing can be the best gift of all. The memory lasts forever and it will open your eyes to the world around you, not to mention you will be able to Deck the Halls with all your new photos! Hot air ballooning, sky diving, caving and hiking are just some of the adventure experiences that will get you out into nature, and get your loved ones to experience our amazing environment, and really appreciate how lucky we all are. Redballoon and Adrenalin are great places to buy your loved ones an adrenalin filled adventure, or you can get them a voucher for them to choose for themselves. Australian Explorer is fantastic if you want your loved ones to experience the diversity of Australia; it can be great for kids as they can be educational, help to promote the idea of sustainable living and show them that there is a world beyond the back fence that is worth preserving. Experience based gifts are often on the pricier side, but they are really worth it.
5. The Gift of Nature
So you want to get someone a Christmas present that is alive, and that your loved ones can nurture and love? Well you wouldn’t buy someone a horse or some other large land mammal – they are too expensive and cost the earth to upkeep. That and they’ll track mud in across your carpet and it just gets UNBEARABLE.
Why not get them a terrarium or terrarium kit? It’s a GIY (Grow It Yourself) gift that shows you put some thought into it, and you can personalise it as much as you want. For those of you who aren’t familiar with a terrarium, it’s pretty much a tiny ecosystem in a bottle; a sealable glass container that is a fully self-contained plant ecosystem, that cycles its own food and grows before your very eyes. AND it’s pretty to look at (not like that time I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa – that was icky!) Our friends at Buzzfeed have some great ideas for making your very own terrariums, or you can purchase ready-made ones in Perth from Green Earth Terrariums. If you google terrariums you should be able to find local producers in your area. For more instructions on how to make them, look no further than the video below.
6. The Gift of Power
For the friend or family member that loves gadgets, why not get them an eco-friendly gadget that runs on green energy, or reduces power usage? There are a number of gadgets that do this and can help you everyday without being big and bulky and annoying. There are solar chargers that can help power your phone, laptop – any device really – they are a great way to get someone thinking about the possibility of green energy (without being a preachy nagger). You can get them from Multi-Powered Products, and they’re pretty awesome. There are slightly more boring ways to give energy efficient presents, like making sure the larger whitegoods items have a high energy rating, or giving the gift of low cost, long lasting LED lighting – but that’s an odd gift to give, unless it’s something they really want and you’re happy to install it for them.
If you have cash to splash around then you might like to install a smart electricity system in your loved one’s home so they can control their power and lighting usage from their smartphone. SURPRISE I BROKE INTO YOUR HOUSE AND MADE YOUR LIGHTS WEIRD. YOU’RE WELCOME.
So there are many ways that you can greenify your Christmas holidays, and the best thing is, most of these things can be bought online, so if you are disorganised, or trapped in wrapping paper or tangled in some christmas lights, you can be comforted by the fact that you can give sustainable gifts with the click of a mouse or the mashing of a keypad. If you have any other ideas please let us know in the comments below. LET’S GO SHOPPING!!!