We love giving great gifts. The crew in our Australian Ethical office have been known to spend weeks (even months!) planning gifts for significant friends, family members, and fellow workmates – but since taking the no waste festive season pledge with 1 Million Women, most (if not everyone) of us have been thinking about better alternatives to giving more stuff.
1. Give an experience, not a thing
Tickets to events make memorable gifts.
Theatre subscriptions, tickets to sporting, music gigs or cultural events, home veggie gardening workshops, massage vouchers – these are all things that provide someone with value and proof you get what they are all about.
Red Balloon is a great resource for finding experiences that you can give as a gift. They even have a special offer that gives you a ‘love it or swap it’ guarantee on your gift voucher.
2. Give a battery-free gift
Less than 3% of all batteries purchased in Australia are recycled, the rest end up going to landfill. This is scary considering that batteries contain lead, cadmium and mercury that may leak out and contaminate groundwater. Lithium metal batteries can cause explosions or fires if inappropriately stored or disposed.
If you’re committed to giving a gift that needs batteries, then consider also giving the recipient some rechargeable batteries and a charger.
3. Give local, fairtrade, or DIY
Buy your gifts from local businesses, artists, retailers or craftspeople and you’ll be supporting your community.
Or maybe you can get creative and give a DIY gift like some gingerbread, a seedling or something else crafty.
4. Give the gift of time
For those short on time, give someone a helping hand yourself or enlist someone to do it for you via Airtasker.
Maybe your dad has been talking about redoing over the backyard or cleaning out the gutters but just hasn’t gotten around to it. Maybe you could pledge to do it for him? Put the pledge in a card with a date by which the task must be completed so it doesn’t seem like an empty offer.
Or perhaps there’s something else on a loved one’s to-do list that has been hanging around way too long. For example, if your significant other is a budding chef you might consider taking their kitchen knives to a professional sharpener on the sly. It’s one less errand for them worry about.
Or, if you are short on time yourself (or skills) consider booking someone for them using Airtasker. The chore crowdsourcing platform allows you to find people in your area to complete a task for you. Examples of tasks include putting together Ikea furniture, doing your food shopping for you and other odd jobs.
5. Post using Sendle
Spread joy, not carbon by using Sendle to post gifts to people. Sendle is Australia’s first carbon neutral delivery service which means your presents can get to their destination emission free.
6. The sustainable gift
Give people the gift of homegrown veggies with a herb plant or one of these self-watering planters from GreenSmart.
Enable others to lead a more sustainable lifestyle with a practical gift. Help cut down on plastic bottles and coffee cups by giving a reusable coffee cup or plastic water bottle.
OnYa Innovations has a range of products to help people avoid single-use food packaging from reusable sandwich wrappers to produce bags.
Perhaps you could help a newbie gardener get hooked on growing their own food. GreenSmart Pots are self-watering which means that there’s pretty much no chance you can stuff up. They come in two sizes and are perfect for growing veggies on a balcony or courtyard.
If you want to be purely practical, consider giving an energy-saving device like an EcoSwitch. Sure, it’s not the most romantic gift but you could save someone a lot of money by reducing their electricity bills. Cold hard cash certainly has its attractions!
7. Donate instead of accumulate!
The Oxfam Unwrapped program lets you give to people who really need. Meanwhile, you get a humorous card to give to your loved one explaining what they are supporting.
Give the gift of the warm and fuzzies and help others in need by making a tax deductible donation to a charitable organisation.
While giving a friend in inner-city Melbourne a goat might be impractical, giving a goat to someone in Mozambique via Oxfam Unwrapped can change a life.
Go online to find a range of charity gifts that help support Oxfam Australia’s work around the world. The person you’re buying a gift for will receive a clever card explaining how their gift is helping others. Your tax-deductible donation will fund a range of projects – health, education, sanitation, farming – including the project featured in your card.
Alternatively if you have a loved one who is a fan of renewable energy, you could help fund Australia’s first citizen-owned solar farm by donating to CORENA on their behalf.
8. Use SoKind
For more gift ideas, and to send your loved ones a not-so-subtle hint about what you really want this year, check out SoKind. The gift registry services encourages the giving of homemade gifts, charitable donations, secondhand goods, experiences, time, day-of-event help, and more.
It’s all about getting that glowing gift-giving feeling minus guilt that you’ve given a heap of stuff.
- Beat the crowds with these great ethical gift ideas
Download the second edition of our Fashion Guide ‘The Good Fashion’ now to find out how 12 big fashion brands rate against environment, labour and animal welfare.