How to Buy Sustainable Christmas Gifts 

If you love gift giving but don’t want to contribute to the harmful junk that ends up in landfill – say snow more! We’ve got six ways for you to choose more sustainable prezzies below.

If you’re more of a visual person check out our video here, otherwise read on!  

1. Have yourself a plastic free Christmas 

Plastic takes years to break down, but it’s also a sign that something is single-use or won’t last. Alternatives made from metal or wood (with as little plastic as possible) should be reusable, last longer, and break down quicker. If you can, also try to avoid packaging that’s plastic as well! 

Psst… for an online store selling plastic-free goods from toys to clothes pegs, check out Biome. Their products also come delivered plastic free. 

2. Choose quality 

The idea is to make sure items stay out of landfill for as long as possible. This means, put back that fast fashion tee shirt, those non-refillable plastic pens, and that cheap Chinese hair straightener. Find something that the person can use for years.

To find quality fashion you don’t have to hunt for expensive shops in obscure locations. Instead use the Good On You app to guide you on brands you already know. It’s free and ranks common fashion brands on how environmentally friendly they are. Then you can choose to support only those brands moving in the right direction. For cosmetics, remember to also look for cruelty free and vegan brands, you see our list of recommended brands here.

3. Tis the season to buy consumables 

If you’re buying for someone who already has everything, someone you don’t know well, or your minimalist friend, your best bet is something that can be consumed. Something that can be ingested, digested, or sunk back. This reduces waste and clutter by ensuring that the gift isn’t sitting in a drawer waiting for bin day. 

Favourite go-tos include liquor, sweets, baked goods and gourmet just about anything: tea, coffee, condiments (jams, chutneys, pâtes), cheeses, olive oils, vinegars, and of course chocolate covered anything. 

Farmers markets and boutique countryside stores are great for finding unique versions of these products.

If you need to make a bigger gift, package multiple consumables into a delicious hamper.

4. Go digital

The less ‘stuff’ on this planet, the less that goes to landfill, and the less CO2 expended the manufacturing process. It’s also great for your minimalist friend or the person who already has everything. 

The ultimate list of digital or non-material gifts can be found at the Slow Your Home website. But we’ll list some ideas to get your started below.

  • Tickets to the: cinema, theatre, music concert, art gallery, or sporting event. 
  • Annual passes to local attractions, gardens and houses.
  • Membership to a sporting team. 
  • Vouchers for a: massage, spa day/hot springs, restaurant, or an adrenaline experience.
  • Subscription to an online magazine, newspaper, or Spotify. 
  • Passes to a class in: cooking, dancing, musical theatre, yoga, or art.
  • Payment for an online course (at skillshare for example).
  • Vouchers for: Etsy, iTunes, Google Play, e-books.
  • A donation to charity on their behalf.
  • An Air bnb experience.

5. Prezzies with environmental kick backs

Believe it or not, some companies use their profits to give back to the environment. We’ll give you the low down on out top favs below. 

BrandProducts  Environmental Kick back
PatagoniaClothing
Shoes
Outdoor gear
Part of their profits (1%) provides funding for grassroots environmental organisations. 
All BirdsRunners Products are made from sustainable and ethical natural materials, and they support the charity Soles4souls.
Bottle for Botol Metal water bottles For every bottle purchased, a student in Indonesia receives a bottle, a water dispenser for their canteen, and a plastic pollution reduction education program.

For a longer list of companies (selling clothes, bags, and jewellery) that are giving back, check out a fantastic article by Business Insider here.

6. Upcycled, handmade, and second hand

Shopping for these items significantly reduces your Christmas footprint. Plus, upcycled and handmade products tend to be unique ‘one-of-a-kind’ pieces. Second hand items are also great for books, vintage items, collectors items, and toys or books for children’s stockings. 

The easiest places to find upcycled and handmade gifts are Etsy and your local farmers markets. However you can also check out our Facebook and Instagram where we regularly show off amazing sustainable Australian brands we know and the incredible people behind them. 

Six ways to sustainably wrap your gifts

Have you ever wondered if your gift wrap is recyclable? Well… the answer is not always. Despite having the word ‘paper’ in it’s name, wrapping paper often contains heavy dyes and plastic elements which make it non-recyclable. But there’s no need to get your tinsel in a tangle – we’ve got you covered with some chic and sustainable alternative gift wrapping options below.

1. Reusable and recyclable cardboard boxes 

Boxes that are not coated in a shiny finish are more likely to be recyclable and give that warm vintage feel. Boxes are also great because your recipient can reuse them next year.

If you want to wrap over the top of your box to add some artistic flare, check out points 3 and 4 below, or dig out your old paint set.

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2. Cloth bags

Make or purchase reusable cloth bags. These are especially good for items such as jewellery, small books, gourmet baked goods, and cosmetics.

If you’re doing this yourself, the most sustainable (and affordable) material is always what to already have at home: unwanted bed sheets, tee shirts, and scrap material lying about. If there’s nothing at home, try your second hand shop, or the discount bin at your local fabric store. 

3. Newspaper or magazine pages

Instead of buying these new collect old ones from work, your parent’s house, and the local library or coffee shop. 

To make it special, choose a section of the paper or magazine that suits your recipient: the comic strip, the beauty and fashion section, the travel pages, the sports pages, or a fascinating opinion piece. 

Psst… this also provides entertainment for when they’ve finished admiring your gift.

If your recipient is learning a new language – bonus points for finding a paper in that language!

4. Sheet music, old books, maps, blueprints, posters etc.

Anything papery that is destined for the bin – pages of an old torn up book (even better if you choose pages that will resonate with your friend), old posters, old paintings, comic book pages, pictures from your wall calendar, sheet music that you don’t use anymore, blueprints that you don’t need, and your out-of-date Melways. 

If you don’t have these lying around, a second hand shop is the perfect place to thrift them. 

5. Furoshiki

For the artistically minded and nimble fingered, this is an ancient Japanese way of wrapping gifts using squares of fabric. 

Again, source the material from your home or a second hand shop, then check out Youtube for videos to guide you through it.

6. Avoid sticky tape

Instead of sticky tape to bind it all together, try material ribbon (the non-plasticky type of you can), or twine. Then employ some clever folding. This makes it easier for your recipient to reuse the wrapping, and gives your gift a vintage look.

If you must use tape, use as little as you can get away with.