As the season for giving rolls around it is important to remember that the holidays are a time to show loved ones how much they mean to us. Though few of us need yet another little trinket, and as Annie Leonard from The Story of Stuff explains, in the US less than 1% of goods purchased are no longer in use 6 months later. Have a look at her short animated film to see more about how our obsession with consumption is damaging us environmentally, socially and financially.
That’s not to say that we can’t give heartfelt gifts to those we love this Christmas. But we can do it without adding to the mountain of goods already going to landfill. So where do we go to find the best in environmentally-friendly Christmas goodies? We’ve compiled a shortlist of sweet little treats that come without the high environmental price tag.
This Australian-manufactured little gem is a great gift for the coffee lover in your family. Wishing to eliminate disposable coffee cups that end up in landfill, Keep Cup designed the very first reusable (and easily portable) coffee cup that fit snugly under the group heads of an espresso coffee machine. A small change with your daily caffeine hit means a serious environmental saving.
A Lamb from Oxfam
One way to ensure your gift will be acknowledge and appreciated is to send one to the third world. Oxfam have compiled a selection of donations that can be pledged on behalf of your lucky recipient, which are accompanied by a clever card explaining how their gift is contributing to someone’s life. This could be buffalo to help plough Cambodia fields, or a lamb for milk and cheese in Mozambique. Gifts range from $14-$495 in price.
100% Recycled Christmas Tree
Local business Treecreds has amazing recycled cardboard Christmas Trees available. With two different sizes (and their corresponding carbon offsets) available for purchase, they are a great alternative to harvested Christmas trees that leave needles all over your house. For those of you in and around Melbourne’s State Library, call in to Mr Tulk to have a peek at their installation.
Elephant Poo Paper
This is one of the more unusual ideas… According to Treehugger.com, the high level of fibre in an elephant’s diet makes it suitable for a second life as paper. The production process leaves the final result odour free, but the container shows an adorable picture that is a subtle nod to the product’s origins. I never thought I’d say this about elephant poo but, cute.
It is a coming of age moment in a child’s life – the day they receive their first bike. There is nothing wrong with giving a bike to an adult too – it may mean a shift in thinking and encourage the recipient to take bike trips instead of using the car. A bike is the kind of gift you can keep forever and use for years. It keeps you fit and helps to minimise your personal carbon emissions. Why not visit CERES for a second-hand gem and give it a makeover instead of buying a new one?
A small flower box filled with herbs, grass or colourful blooms is a great gift for enthusiastic foodies, kids or apartment dwellers. Succulents are also easy to care for and bring a welcome flush of green to any interior space. Fresh herbs will be a welcome addition to any food lover’s kitchen and kids love to see things growing. So visit your local nursery or community garden and bring the outside in.
Vintage and Handmade Jewellery
As a way to support our local artisans, why not hunt down some handmade treasures on Etsy or local equivalents like Blue Caravan or Ethikl. With a wide array of merchants selling their wares without the middleman, these online marketplaces are great for uncovering emerging new designers or finding vintage gems. With the added bonus that many of these are fairtrade and one of a kind.
Nothing is as special as something you’ve made yourself. A selection of handmade jams, sauces or relishes makes a great gift, as we all know that they don’t make them like they used to… And what a lovely feeling to have jars of homemade tomato sauce just in time for barbecue season. Why not spend this weekend visiting your local farmers market for a box of seasonal fruit and creating your own specialty. Then put that extra personal stamp on them by packaging them up yourself.
Research into Australian Wildlife
Local company Bush Heritage Australia have a range of donation packages available. Your gift can contribute to research into natural habitat, regrowth of damaged bushland or pay for volunteers to work on the ground.