5 Truly Sustainable Christmas Gift Ideas

cookie jar

Christmas is approaching fast and with stupid Black Friday this week, I fell like big brands are yet again trying to trick us into buying more than we need, more than we can afford, more stuff that’s not needed, more stuff that will end up in charity shops (in the best case scenario) early next year. More stuff that will add to the clutter in our homes. More mindless buying for the sake of it, because it’s on “sale”. 

Don’t fall for it. Producing all that “stuff” needs vast amount of energy and raw material – mostly plastic, which is again, fossil fuel. Say no to mindless consumerism. Experts often highlight the connection of consumerism with issues like the growth imperative and overconsumption which have larger impacts on the environment, including direct effects like overexploitation of natural resources or large amounts of waste from disposable goods, and larger effects like climate change.

So this Christmas, don’t get sucked into the machine, don’t be fooled by the Black Friday advertisements. We can all be a catalyst, a force for good just by simply thinking about our buying habits. 

I have a few Christmas gift ideas, that don’t cost the Earth – literally.

Christmas gift

Normalise second-hand gifts

Be a proud thrifter for it’s one of the best ways to help the environment. Second-hand items already exist and the longer they are kept in circulation, the better! This way we reduce waste, energy consumption and can create a positive change in society: for the many. 

There are plenty of places to source second hand gifts: online or offline, from charity shops to Ebay and the likes. Often you can find exactly what you are after: a Lego set that has built once and that was it. Get it on Ebay for the fraction of the original price. (Lego is a positive example in many ways because the brand also actively encouraging looking after the sets and regifting them.)

So normalise second hand gifts and embrace circular economy! They are not less worthy than newly bought presents. On the contrary!

Shop small, local and independent

For a few years in a row I create Christmas gift guides only with small and sustainable businesses. Shopping local and with online small businesses are important for me and for all of us. They play an important role in communities and they have a major economic impact. Making conscious choices when deciding about a purchase is more possible than ever these days.

Shopping at local businesses pumps money into the local economy, and by spending money in their local shop, restaurant, café or pub, shoppers can do their bit to aid our national recovery across the country.

Handmade gifts

You don’t have to be overly crafty! You don’t even have to be very imaginative. Simple things: something useful, something edible, of just something pretty using your skills. Like a cookie jar with layered ingredients for baking at home. Or a nice meal for the freezer, a cake you can enjoy together. A plant you propagated. Something nice you upcycled. There’s plenty of ideas out there. There is no bigger gift than the gift of your time and the love you put into making a gift.

Here’s a recipe for a layered cookie jar for ginger cookies:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 90g soft brown or muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of baking powder

The giftee will need to add:

  • 60 g dairy free butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

cookie jar

Gift experiences

Experiences are often way more likely to protect the planet than items made with a ton of plastic and non-recyclable components. Maybe you can pay for your friend and you to visit a concert together, rather than spending money on physical possessions. There’s really a lot to choose from: from hot air balloon flight and escape rooms to a fine dining experience or a cooking class – you can cater for every taste!

Buy ethical

There is undoubtedly some research going into each and every Christmas gift item. The same way you can do a little research on how the gift about to buy ticks some important boxes about ethical, fairtrade and sustainable production line. Check out the brand’s sustainability and ethical statements on their website – most brands already have one. If not – don’t even bother. Make sure you spot clear greenwashing: like when a brand truly stands for fast fashion like H&M and dumps a “conscious” collection, this is clearly greenwashing and buying it will not help the case. Instead, opt for truly eco-friendly gifts that are kind to the planet.

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