December is a big month for gift-giving, and while it can be a beautiful time of sharing love and honouring the connections in your life, it can also be, well, pretty wasteful. Wrapping materials, gimmicky gifts, excess packaging and presents that end up in landfill? All by-products of the festive season. However, with a little ingenuity, you can avoid pretty much all the wastefulness of the holiday season.
1. Wrap with care
Did you know we use around 150,000 kilometres of Christmas gift wrapping each year? Considering any plastic or foil wrapping can’t be recycled, that leaves a lot for landfill. The trick? Use 100% paper wrapping - even with sticky tape all over it, it can still be recycled. Alternatively, get creative - wrap a gift with linen, cotton or other natural fibre products, and make them practical. For example, wrapping some gorgeous coasters in a linen tea towel, or a cute underwear set in an equally lovely scarf means that your wrapping becomes part of the gift.
2. Consider doing Secret Santa with family
One of the most wasteful parts of festive giving is the presents you have no use for - and they often come from family. When you’ve got to buy something for ten people, it takes a financial toll - and that means gifts often become tokenistic, not long-lasting. Instead, consider doing a big-ticket Secret Santa. The fundamentals are the same as your office gift giving, where everyone pulls a name from a hat (or you can use a website like this one) and has a price limit. The difference? You and your loved ones choose a price limit that fits your collective financial situation - that might be $30, or it might be $300. You’ll not only be spending far less on gifting this year, but you will also likely get a gift that you really want (like that Spell dress you’ve been coveting) - and therefore will likely cherish rather than throw away in six months time.
3. Shop small, and consciously
One fantastic way to benefit both the environment and small businesses is to pick where you shop this festive season. Seek out labels (like us!) who are committed to a sustainable future, so you’re putting your money into businesses who are doing good for the planet. There are so many of us out there - sites like Good On You and Greenfinder are great places to start. It’s also worth looking local - there are many small boutiques curating wonderful collections of local labels. One site worth checking out is Buy From The Bush, a hub for rural businesses in Australia that’s filled with unique and beautifully made items, from children’s toys to hampers.
4. For small gifts, get creative
Whether you’re being careful with finances this season, or have to get some smaller gifts for colleagues, teachers and neighbours, don’t look past making presents yourself. If you’re a great cook, why not make preserves, pickles or some baked treats? Artistic types can pick up plain wooden ornaments and decorate them, or empty glass baubles filled with Australian natives like wattle will live on as decorations for years. The key is to work with your talents - no point baking if you manage to burn boiling water, you know?
5. Give gifts that give back
This can be everything from charity gifting like Oxfam Unwrapped, which gifts poverty-stricken families with goats, chickens and other practical presents - all outlined in the card you then give to your loved one, or living gifts like plants, that will only benefit the environment. This is a great one to consider when giving gifts to kids - a miniature herb garden will give them plenty of curious fun, and is far better for the environment than the latest plastic toy.