A Guide to Waste Free Gift Giving

With the holiday season coming up now is the time that we are constantly reminded we should be out shopping. There are a numerous issues with buying presents from the mall, they are expensive, unsustainable, mass produced and malls are stressful, busy places. Don’t get me wrong, I love giving gifts, however I hate shopping and going to malls. I used to find after receiving presents they sat in a pile in my room for a while until I could figure out where they should go. Additionally every time I moved house I realised how much unnecessary stuff I had, gifts were often a huge part of this. I would feel guilty donating something someone had gifted to me. This is why I am huge advocate of gifts that don’t last forever, or gifts I know will be used or appreciated often. I tend to give gifts that I have made myself, they are more personal and thoughtful. Home baked, cooked or fermented gifts are usually well received and devoured. If you do wish to purchase your gifts, second hand shops, Trade Me and local markets and businesses are also great places to find gifts for people who are tricky to buy for or for getting items to revamp. 

A Basic Guide to Avoiding Shopping Malls:

  • Home baking
  • Vanilla extract
  • Home grown and homemade relish, jam or marmalade
  • Terrarium’s or home grown plants
  • Homemade body lotions, lip balms, toothpaste etc.
  • Home brew alcohol or Kombucha
  • Home crafts such as knitting, painting, drawing, sewing or any other hidden talent.
  • Reuse glass jars to fill with sweets, baking or homemade lotions
  • Revamp a second-hand frame with a photograph of you and your friend, or their pet etc.
  • Offer your skills for a day or to fix or mend an item of your friend’s.
  • Experiences, take them to the movies, zoo, that place they have always wanted to go, tickets to a concert or skydiving etc.
  • Donate to the person’s favourite charity (or cause) on their behalf
Now I realise not everyone has the time, effort, or skill to whip up some home-made gifts… 

A Basic Guide to Buying Sustainable Gifts:

Some pretty standard, useful, low waste gift ideas. Especially useful if you are doing secret santa and may not know the recipient that well.

ReMaterialise upcycled purse, reusable coffee cup, menstrual cup, mesh bag, bamboo toothbrush.

  • Reusable Coffee cup, metal tumbler or mason jar
  • Metal or glass straws
  • Glass or metal containers
  • A menstrual cup 
  • Wooden or bamboo chopping board
  • A bicycle or bike accessories 
  • Something they actually need (I can’t stress this enough)
  • A gift voucher for a sustainable shop (Such as Biome, which also has some handy gift guides!)
  • Something edible (such as Trade Aid chocolate in compostable packing!
  • Support local businesses!
Now you may need something to wrap all these goodies in… 

A Basic Guide to Waste Free Gift Wrap:

  • Reusable bag
  • Scarf
  • Tea towel
  • Mesh Bag or Bread Bag
  • Pillow Case
  • Scrap Paper
  • Re-used gift wrap
  • Wax paper that has been drawn/doodled on
  • Newspaper
  • No gift wrap!

The best thing is the first few ‘gift wraps’ also double as a present!

So please be thoughtful this holiday season, try to avoid unnecessary waste, support local businesses instead and try your hand at discovering new or hidden talents.

I will leave you with a Dr Seuss quote: “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.”

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