15 December 2013
3 min read

Despite spending an average of $475 each on presents, last year Gumtree estimated that 14.3 million unwanted presents were received in Australia.

That’s a lot of money being spent, energy used and waste created for absolutely no reason at all other than that we feel obliged to hand something over to our friends and family on Christmas day.

This year, Australian Ethical invites you to think about the environmental impact of your gifts and also whether you could save time and money by cutting back on the number of physical gifts you give and being more creative. The following article should help get you started with some ideas. Ethical gift site ‘Checking it Twice’ have even listed their top 5 gift ideas which are all available online now.

One option is to consider skipping a gift altogether and donating to someone less fortunate through charity gifting schemes. Unicef and Oxfam have options such as, ‘a school in a box’ or ‘clean drinking water for a village in Cambodia.’ Your ‘gift’ donation comes with a festive card explaining what you’ve bought so you still have something to hand over on the day. If you’d rather keep it local, Probono Australia have also come up with a ‘Guide to Giving’ which provides a list of charities in Australia.

Alternatively, why not get creative and make your own presents? This is a fantastic way to save money, reduce waste from unnecessary packaging and also give something a bit more personal. Try baking, creating your own hamper filled with locally sourced goods, knitting or even painting a gift for someone. These don’t require any massive time commitments and apart from the painting, you don’t need any special skills to create something festive.

If you’re still not inspired, try visiting new ethical gift site ‘Checking it Twice’. The online service is designed to help Australians choose gifts that are great for their family and friends and also contribute positively to the issues they care about. The innovative service from not -for-profit group Ethical Consumers Australia will also feature hundreds of ideas on how to source alternative gifts that deliver positive change in Australia and in developing countries.

Gordon Renouf, one of the team who have created the service, says more and more people are thinking about the impact of their spending and the meaning of the presents they give, but they often need better information or a little nudge to spark their gift giving imagination. “The Christmas spirit is about sharing and choosing gifts that show you care. Giving a well thought-out gift sends a powerful message about your values, and should also have a positive impact on the wider world.” said Mr Renouf.
Checking it Twice (checkintittwice.org.au) works by letting consumers enter information about who the gift is for, their budget, the issues they care about and even the sort of present they have in mind.

They’ve come up with their top 5 ethical gift ideas which you can find on the site now.

  • A gardening class in the Adelaide Botanic gardens – Ideal for the person who has everything.
  • Iameco V3 Touchscreen PC. It’s a brilliant solution to the energy consumption and carbon emission problems facing the electronics industry. Iameco V3 is made primarily from recycled materials (98% of materials used are fully recycleable) and has an expected life of 10 years – that’s 3 times more than the average PC!
  • Sustainable Table cookbook. This book will inspire you to eat seasonally, shop locally and make better decisions about your food along with providing you with tasty recipes. The sale of The Sustainable Table Book provides funds to support the organisation’s local and international projects, including their Compost Toilet project in Kenya.
  • The Domozori Unisex Thongs. These are hand made from natural rush and cotton by vulnerable women working at Kamonohashi, a community project fighting sex trafficking in Cambodia.
  • Two stainless steel handcrafted earrings made by Australian owned Polli Designs who use recycled materials and have a Carbon Reduction Institute low CO2 rating. Perfect for jewelry lovers who are concerned about avoiding conflict minerals and toxic conditions for workers. Checking it Twice Look for FairTrade gold, jewellers certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, or artisans who work with recycled materials and found objects.