It may be the most wonderful time of year (or so the song goes), but it’s probably also the least eco-friendly. And the bigger the family, the greater the amount of disposable wrapping, plastic packaging, delivery air miles and all the rest of it! So what’s an eco-conscious gift buyer to do? If you’re looking for gift-ideas that can make the Christmas season that little bit more sustainable, read on ahead. We’re listing out eco-friendly gift ideas that Australian families will fall in love with, and that will make Mother Earth smile too.
- Give an experience they can treasure forever
As any parent will confirm, most families have more ‘stuff’ than they know what to do with. Toys, gadgets, clothes and the like bursting out of every cupboard, and with each festive season comes an influx of more. A more eco-friendly gift option is to give an experience: better yet one that keeps on giving. Memories may fade, but a photo lasts forever. Why not reach out to a family photographer or gift a voucher for a family photoshoot for a present that the whole family will treasure for the years to come.
- Add an eco-twist to the advent countdown
This one may involve getting your gift in early, but helping your family or a loved ones’ make the advent countdown more sustainable can not only have a whole lot of environmental impact, but create years of fun to boot. Many hanging cloth advent calendars can be personalised with your family’s details, and allow you to fill each pocket with a little treat that sparks joy every day in December, without the excess packaging!
- Make the obligatory Christmas Day swim that much more sustainable
Whilst our friends in the Northern Hemisphere may sing carols by the fire, rug up in woolly Christmas jumpers or take walks in the snow, here in Australia nothing says Christmas Day like a family trip to the beach. This makes bathers the ultimate stocking stuffer or gift to leave under the tree. For a gift that makes the ocean happy too, choose sustainable kids swimwear designed here in Australia. Little Fishy Swim is made from recycled plastic bottles, and gives $1 per purchase back to ocean clean-up as well, making it the ultimate eco gift for beach loving families.
- Get crafty and pull together your own Christmas hamper
Almost every family seems to have a unique Christmas recipe or tradition that makes their day special. Why not place yours at the centre of a gift that not only comes straight from the heart, but is the ultimate in sustainability too. Get your family together for an arts and crafts session to make a selection of treats and home-spun decorations that you can put together in hampers for your nearest and dearest. Miniature wreaths, home-made tree ornaments, gingerbread or even a jamjar full of Grandma’s special maple granola. All would make delightful, and eco-friendly, additions to a gift box from your family to another.
- Support local for your Christmas fashion and accessories
What would the big day be without a few yuletide nick-knacks and novelty outfits? When it comes to Christmas attire it’s often tempting to go cheap, cheerful and ship in from overseas, especially when we’re wearing things for a good time not a long time. But with international deliveries, come outsize carbon emissions, and often cheap, poorly made garments that are destined for landfill. Supporting local makers for items like these Australian-made matching Christmas Pyjamas not only keeps your hard-earned dollars in the community, but makes for a far more eco-friendly gift too.
- Make an adoption or sponsorship on their behalf
What do you give the family that has everything? Perhaps a gift to someone – or something – else on their behalf. Are they passionate about hiking and the outdoors? A National Parks pass not only keeps the habitats they love healthy, but gives them ongoing access to pursue their passion too. Know the kids love all things cute and fluffy? Adopting or sponsoring an endangered animal via a local charity, shelter or even zoo-ological foundation often comes with additional gift items, but also a promise to update the family on the positive impact their adoption is having too. One of my favourite ever gift items my daughter received was a year’s membership to Taronga Conservation Society – letting us visit their Sydney zoo as often as we pleased, with the additional benefit of animal conservation too.
- Keep them entertained all year long with a (digital) subscription
Thank goodness for the internet, since the advent of online gifts don’t even need to be physical any longer – with the manufacturing emissions, wasteful packaging and everything else that entails. Giving the gift of entertainment will be a present that can last as long as 365 days a year. We’re not necessarily advocating you simply take on one of the TV subscriptions (but if they’d love that, why not?), but seek out a non-physical or experience subscription that align to their passions. Movie lovers? Many cinema chains offer an annual family pass. Thrill seekers? How about a membership to a local or chain of entertainment parks? Even when Christmas is but a distant memory, your gift will keep on giving weekend after weekend.
Gift giving needn’t cost the earth, literally or figuratively. Hopefully you can align each of the ideas above to at least one loved one or family you know, and enjoy the festive season knowing that you’ve made a positive impact on both those you care about, and the planet too.
About the author:
Jessica Page is a mum-of-one based in Bondi Beach, Australia, and founder of Little Fishy Swim, a sustainable kids and baby swimwear brand committed to preserving our oceans for the next generation. As a kids swim entrepreneur, she knows her way around a beach, and has become a bit of a professional at making family days on the sand run smoother.