E.C.O.’s Christmas gift guide – save money and the planet
The time of the year where people spend more than they need to and buy lots of presents that are unwanted or unused
This Christmas we want to help you buy useful presents for your loved ones and hopefully save some money (and the planet) along the way. According to a survey 60 million unwanted presents will be given this Christmas, big hitters include bathing products, films and box sets, candles, chocolate and socks.
Before we introduce some eco gift ideas there are a few ways we can consciously buy gifts this year.
Being a conscious shopper
Think about the use
Firstly think about the meaning of your gift. Is this a filler gift, or is this something that the recipient will genuinely use and enjoy? How long will your recipient use this present? Is it likely to be re-gifted or used straight away? Is it a one-time use item… if so can the item, container or packaging be recycled? Does the recipient need this item?
We suggest you look at the products you are buying and how they are manufactured. Where are the materials sourced? Where is the gift made and manufactured? Are the ingredients or fabrics natural? Can the present be composted, recycled or re-used? What impact does the manufacturing, delivery and packaging of this product have on our environment?
Try to find gifts that help the local community. Has it been shipped or flown from the manufacturer? Can you source the present closer to home? Are there smaller independent companies who are creating the same gifts you can support?
For stocking fillers, Secret Santas and general novelty gift ideas that are not intended to last long look for second hand items. Charity shops receive lots of unwanted gifts and Christmassy items in Spring Cleans which are usually out for sale the following year.
A great way to save money is to make your gifts. Can you bake or cook for your loved ones as presents? Create photo books or scrap books with recycled materials. Can you spend time together to create things? Do your family need help crating, fixing, decorating or general DIY-ing? Give time as a gift rather than material things.
If you have a large family or have a tradition of buying lots of presents and stocking fillers have a conversation and consider whether they’re needed. Could you all save some money and agree on a budget. This will reduce stress, save time and will mean family members can think about what they really want with their assigned money. Secret Santa is a great way to get one or two expensive present and only have to buy a few in return – set a limit depending on how much you can afford and only buy one person a big present rather than lots of people little ones.
ECO gift ideas
Being that the top unwanted gift item given at Christmas is usually bathing products we thought we could suggest some great ideas to save the planet in your bathroom
- Bamboo Toothbrush
- Metal razor set with reusable blades (we love Friction Free Shaving)
- Homemade, natural bath salts and oils
- Reusable face pads for removing make up (we love Face Halo)
- Environmentally friendly make-up brushes – usually made with bamboo
- Shampoo and conditioner bars (plastic free – we love them from Lush)
- Bedcovers made with recycled materials, cotton or an eco mix
- Vegan candles
- Vegan trainers and shoes
- Natural material clothes (linen, bamboo, cotton)
- Charity and vintage shopping sprees
- Memberships to galleries (Tate and Royal Academy of Arts have environmentally conscious exhibitions and initiatives), National Trust, Kew Gardens for recipients to experience nature and big ideas
- Take loved ones for dinner or cook for them at home as presents
- Plan a day out in nature – parks, forests, picnics
- Find out where eco markets and workshops are popping up, tickets to Vegan Nights or similar where eco initiatives come together
- Donate to charity on someones behalf
- Volunteer with loved ones in local planet-saving tasks (we enjoy picking up litter in canoes in London with Moo Canoes)
- Offset someone’s carbon emissions
- Sponsor a child, animal or family for a month, year or forever (if you love them lots). We want to specifically shout about Afghanaid’s Unforgettable Gifts for Christmas. Give your loved ones a personalised e-card for Christmas with gifts starting from £5. From training a farmer and planting fruit trees to providing seeds for farmers to grow their own food and even building a greenhouse, you can donate to thousands of good causes this year.
- Buy online magazine subscriptions for a loved one
- Kindles and e-readers save money and paper. Ask loved ones to start a wish-list or Good Reads list for you to choose books they would like to buy
- World of Books and similar companies resell used books
- Charity shops books make your money go further
So there you have it, I hope there is enough ideas above to be getting on with. We will inevitably buy items that won’t be used or will be re-gifted but if we try to reduce this from the beginning there will be less waste this Christmas. Re-gifting and giving to charity shops is a positive way to reduce waste, we want to ensure gifts we are not quite sure on are able to be used by others rather than single-use items. We can all together make this time of year for giving and receiving a little less harsh on the planet and make small efforts to change outcomes.
Grace has quit the 9-5 lifestyle in London to study marine conservation in Thailand. She will subsequently work as a scuba diving instructor with emphasis on teaching students about marine conservation and anthropogenic impacts to our oceans. Her favourite eco product is Oliva Olive Oil Soap.