Gift giving has been an important part of human culture for tens of thousands of years. Since primitive times, the tradition has allowed us to express our feelings and celebrate life’s important moments. But in our modern age, how do we give gifts without contributing to the endless cycle of consumption, waste production and rising greenhouse gas emissions? Is it possible to give meaningful gifts that minimise our impact on the environment or even actively help protect it?
Here are 6 ways to continue the joy of gift giving, while helping to ensure a healthier planet.
1. Gift an Experience
Choosing to give an experience instead of material items can help minimise impact on resources while supporting local businesses and organisations.
Experiences can sometimes be the most memorable gifts and can even help improve the lives of others and the environment. Social enterprises in most cities offer cooking experiences that celebrate, and support recently arrived refugees and migrants.
Zoos and local wildlife centres offer memberships and close encounter experiences that would not only be awesome gifts for an animal lover, but also support these organisations’ conservation and wildlife rehabilitation efforts.
2. Services over Goods
While we are constantly bombarded by marketing for products that promise to improve our lives, the reality is that many of us don’t need more ‘stuff’.
A massage treatment, spa visit, or floatation tank session can provide your loved one with a much-needed rest. Perhaps consider the gift of music lessons, a cooking class or sharing a skill such as artisan bread-making.
The gift of a subscription to a bike share club or a car sharing service would also be a great way to encourage a sustainable lifestyle, reducing carbon emissions in an easy, practical way.
3. Choose Local
Shopping locally and seasonally is one of the most practical ways we can reduce our carbon footprint. Vouchers for local organic grocers make wonderful gifts and shorten the supply chain with reduced transportation and packaging. Supporting local farmers can also encourage regenerative agricultural practices.
Similarly, growing our own food can help us minimise our impact. A gift of membership to a seed growing club (which sends its members a year’s worth of heirloom vegetable seeds as well as growing advice) is a great introduction to the pleasures of growing fresh food.
Finally, if you want to brighten someone’s day, you could send them some florals from Daily Blooms. With newly created flower bunches every day, you can also carbon offset the delivery with Greenfleet when you check out.
4. Homemade and Pre-loved Gifts
Homemade edible gifts, such as biscuits or preserves, are delicious and always appreciated. By wrapping your edible gift in a clean tea towel, recycled jam jar or retro biscuit tin, it can also be waste-free. If you don’t have the time (or culinary skills) to whip up a batch of cookies, sharing a special family recipe written on a card could be a heartfelt gift.
Giving a pre-loved item is the kindest choice for the environment as no energy or resources are required at all. Spend some time looking in thrift shops, marketplaces and antique stores and you may be surprised by the treasures you can find.
5. Share your Sustainable Journey
Sometimes a thoughtful, eco-friendly gift can be a great way to encourage your loved ones to think sustainably.
Online retailers like Flora & Fauna source the best ethically produced, cruelty-free brands of home and personal care products that will make living sustainably a pleasure. A beautiful eco-gift may prompt others to rethink their choices as consumers and reduce their impact on the environment.
6. Good Ancestor Gifts
The idea of being a ‘good ancestor’ is inextricably linked to sustainability by considering the long-term impacts of our decisions and actions on future generations.
A simple way to put this into practice is to care for and protect the places we love so that they can be nurtured by generations to come. Greenfleet’s native reforestation projects in Australia and New Zealand are protected for up to 100 years, allowing native trees and plant species to grow into thriving, biodiverse forests that provide habitat for wildlife and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
You can donate to plant trees on someone’s behalf, or offset their carbon footprint for them. To mark a significant birthday, anniversary or special event, the gift of a Milestone Forest can grow to be more meaningful every day.
Sustainable gifting requires us to resist the take-make-use-trash model and instead look at gifting as an opportunity to show we care for others and our environment. Best of all, sustainable gifts ensure we can keep the tradition of gift giving alive for future generations.