Gifting Sustainably: Small Things can Make a Big Difference.
With the festive season behind us, many of us will reflect on the amount of waste produced by all those gifts. From wrapping paper to myriad of packaging materials, most will regrettably end up in landfill. (A convenient euphemism for "let's bury all the garbage so we don't have to look at it.") Yet with Easter around the corner, and the inevitable gift-giving occasions that greet us throughout the year - birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations, condolences, valentines day - it's important to recognise that the choices we make can make a big difference; particularly when we spread the message to our friends and loved ones. With that said, here are some tips for lightening your ecological footprint when gift-giving. If you have any others to share, please leave these in the comments.
Try to avoid products with one-off usage in mind. For the coffee aficionado, why not try a product like the KeepCup - you can even design it yourself. To help them avoid plastic water bottles, a stainless steel one is a great alternative, and can be kept just as hygenic.
Choose products that are readily recyclable at the end of its useful life. Look for the Green Dot symbol, or the three arrows symbol forming a triangle. The number code can be used to check compatibility with your local recycling systems.
Consider virtual gifts. Oxfam Unwrapped, for example, have a range of virtual gifts. Your recipient receives a card, and the proceeds are used to help those less fortunate in a developing country. For example, providing a shelter and safe haven for abused women.
Try making a present from materials you have around the home! Not only does this re-use existing material, you'll probably end up with a present your recipient will truly treasure.
Think about their hobbies and interests. Perhaps the gift of an experience will be the best choice. A conservationist at heart? Time out at a nature retreat could be just what they need. A horselover would undoubtedly enjoy a day-long ride in the countryside. If you can't decide what's appropriate, most "experience gift" retailers offer generic gift vouchers.
These are just some of our ideas for gift-giving occasions that lighten the load on our planet (and perhaps your hip pocket as well.) In addition, where possible, do please try to spend some quality time together with your friends and loved ones. This is surely, the most precious gift of all.