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We all have those family members who it is easier to buy that funny but trashy gift for… but will it just get laughed about for the day then chucked in the bin or sent to the Op Shop? Is this a good idea? Will the environment love it? Sadly, those times are probably over (or should be).

For the last few years I have made a commitment to giving gifts that have a low impact on the environment… and I have tried to include family who are not particularly ‘eco’ in that as well.  

Here are my top 5 tips to make gift giving to everybody more environmentally friendly

ONE: Buy from a small business or locally (NZ business):

This is the best gift you can give your community AND your friend. There has probably never been a better year to support a local business.

Why is this a great eco decision? Local businesses form an interconnected economic and social web that supports our communities… and the money stays local. Small businesses often have more of a sustainability focus too.

TWO: Gift an experience:

Yes, I used to think this was always an expensive option, but there are plenty of good ideas out there that won’t blow your budget.

Here are a couple of ideas that won’t break the bank:

  1. shout a coffee or a lunch.  Sometimes this is the best gift you can give grandparents and parents… as they get to see you too.
  2. make a voucher to take them out to the movies… and you go as well!

When you give a gift that is also an experience, make sure they don’t have to be used on a fixed date… or book the date in with your friend or family member first. 

Try to give a card or a voucher so they can remember that they have it!

I keep a little folder in my bag with my gift vouchers or experience vouchers, so I can remember I have the gift experience to use.

THREE: Buy an eco gift:

There is no doubt about it… an eco gift can change someone’s whole mindset about eco living. Try to think of something that your gift receiver is likely to actually use!

Think pottery keep cups, or a reusable cutlery set. A really nice sustainable gift can elevate your friend/family member’s eco kudos.  Keep an eye out for eco gifts that are trendy, as this will generate a bit of a buzz around your gift. Remember the year when everyone was buying or giving  reusable straws?

The Goagain reusable cutlery set is a fantastic gift, and is a natural next step for a family member who already has their keep cup, beeswax wraps and straws sorted.  It’s light to carry, bust sturdy and long lasting.

In fact, we are so sure it will be the best solution, we back it with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee.

One of the best gifts I bought my Mum a few years ago was a subscription to a micro green seed delivery service and a sprouter.

FOUR: Wrap with what you have:

As supermarkets have moved back to paper bags, many houses are likely to have a small collection of these… and they make fantastic wrapping for gifts.

I keep the paper and ribbons from the presents the kids received for birthdays and reuse those to wrap gifts. When I go to our family Christmas I offer to take any good wrapping or ribbons back home with me too.

BUT: if you kid still believes in Santa, be careful what wrapping paper kids use.  One of my kids remembered the wrapping from a present given to her earlier in the year, and I had to do some very fast talking about how Santa was now reusing wrapping paper to be kind to the environment. 

* Another great eco tip is to reuse gift cards. Cut off the back half of the card and write on the front like a postcard.

FIVE: Make a selection basket of ‘select yourself’ goodies that your family can choose from on Christmas Day:

I’ve been doing this for our large family Christmases for a few years now, and it’s a hit!

We fill a basket with unwrapped gifts and each family member can choose the gifts they want. The kids love making gifts to add to this basket. You can mix it up with cheaper and more expensive gifts.

We include lots of hand made things: jams, chutneys, beeswax wraps, candles, bath bombs.

Good luck preparing for a lower waste Christmas this year!


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