We’re heading into the festive season and many of us are thinking about gift giving as an enduring part of many festive traditions.
Gift giving can be really positive as a way of acknowledging the people we care about and expressing our love for them. It can be really fun to receive thoughtful gifts too!
But like all good things gift giving has a dark side. For the giver it can create stress with the pressure to find the ‘perfect gift’ and of course financial stress if you’re lucky enough to have lots of loved ones (or loved ones with expensive tastes)! As a receiver there is the pressure of pretending to love things you don’t, and doing something with all the stuff you didn’t really need.
And the Earth pays a hefty price with our gift giving habits when you consider the impact of this excess consumption. According to the Huffington Post Australians receive over 20 million unwanted gifts on Christmas day each year, and half of these wasted gifts end up in landfill. The carbon emissions from the production, transport, wrapping, disposal and returns of all these unwanted gifts would be staggering.
So how do we hold on to our values when we approach the festive season and choose sustainable and ethical gifts?
Contemplating Sustainable Gift Giving
Like most things, good decisions start with thinking time. Try spending some time contemplating questions such as:
- What are the best gifts I’ve ever received and why? You might notice they are not expensive ‘things’, but more meaningful and personal.
- Who do I need to and who do I want to give gifts to this year? Often we get into the habit of giving gifts to many people and it’s not really wanted or necessary.
After that reflection the key question is ‘What might that person really enjoy and would be useful to them?’ Things or experiences that they need, would particularly enjoy or help them live a healthy happy life are perfect.
Sustainable gifts that don’t cost the Earth.
Let’s not forget the environmental impact of the gifts though- a needed and beloved gift is great, a needed, beloved and earth friendly gift is even better!
Some of our favourite gifts are:
1. Second hand
The taboo around giving secondhand things is waning and should be gone forever because it’s so good for the planet and your wallet. Try op shops, garage sales, verge collections and online platforms like Facebook Marketplace.
Our top pick: Gift Swap Stall at our Festive Market. Bring along things that are new or like new and drop them with our volunteers, and take home something else that is more useful for you or a loved one. Like a live Buy Nothing event, but for gifty things.
2. Home Made
Nothing communicates appreciation more than a lovingly handmade gift. The trick is to make something the receiver will like and enjoy though, not just something you felt like making.
3. Experiences, not things.
Most of us have more than enough ‘stuff’ in our lives, so much that self-storage is a booming industry in Australia. Experiences are an excellent alternative, especially when it’s something you can do or share with your recipient. So it’s kind of a gift to yourself too!
You can create some wonderful DIY options by combining an activity they like, in a place they don’t usually go to, with some yummy food. Like a bike ride and picnic in a nature spot or a snorkel and breakfast hamper at Mettams Pool.
Or get a couple of tickets to something like a Fringe Show, an escape room or ferry trip. The Transperth ferry from Elizabeth Quay to South Perth is pretty fun and very affordable, combine it with a stroll along the river and gelato or a drink on either side for a fun half day adventure.
Our top pick: We’re completely biased but we think our workshops are the perfect gift for people who like acquiring new skills for kinder ways of living. Check out our Workshop Program for the first half of 2024 or buy a gift voucher so your lucky recipient can choose.
4. Locally produced.
Let’s keep our money in our local communities and give it straight to small producers, not big corporations. It’s a small but very powerful act.
So hit your high street instead of a shopping mall this year, or head to a local farmers market.
Gardeners love plants and so does the planet! You can choose them something nice if you know what’s useful to them, or a voucher to a local independent nursery is ideal.
Our top picks. We love Zanthorea and Trillion Trees for native plants and Tass 1 Trees for fruit trees. L&J Garden in Freo are a lovely family business. If your recipient is heading down south, a voucher to Owy’s could be great, especially if they love cacti or indoor plants.
6. Your time.
Have you got skills you can gift to a loved one that needs them? Weeding, house painting, resume proof reading, head massages, the list goes on.
Our top pick: We can’t say for this one as it depends on your skills and the receivers needs. Get your thinking cap on!
To ‘wrap’ things up…
With a little thought and intention, you can embrace sustainable gift giving this year.
It’s great to lower your impact on our precious natural environment, but at the end of the day lots of these ideas will actually improve the gifts you give and help you find meaning and joy this festive season.