It might seem as though your actions don’t count in the big scheme of things. But the more of us that give gifts consciously this Christmas, the better our collective impact will be on the planet — and on others.
Firstly, it’s worth considering gifting an experience or contribution to a charity, instead of a physical object. In 2018 alone, Australians spent a massive $400 million dollars on 10 million unwanted gifts. Landfill sees a spike in materials around Christmas time as we discard not only presents, but also wrapping paper, decorations, and leftover food (one in five shopping bags end up in the bin).
Have a friend who’s a bit of an eco-warrior? Help them offset their carbon footprint with Trace’s climate-positive gift cards (20% off). Know somebody who has a big heart for children and families affected by conflict, poverty and natural disaster? Check out World Vision’s selection of gifts and buy a goat for a family, send a girl to school, or provide a child with immunisation against deadly disease. Or if you’re weighing up gifting an experience, take a look at sites like Red Balloon and Caperly, or grab a voucher from your favourite hospitality venue or beauty parlour to support local businesses.
But if you’re in the market for some physical gift-giving, then we’d encourage you to use this as an opportunity to do some good. According to those polled in the survey of almost 1100 people in 2019, around a quarter said they would prefer to receive “socially conscious or eco-friendly” Christmas presents that year.
So with this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of creative gift ideas that will help you to do good this festive season. A number of these startups have generously offered a 10–20% discount, so make sure to use the code “giveforgood” where relevant!
Let’s start with gift wrap.
Good Gift Wrap
Fabric, reusable wrap is a great alternative to paper wrap, which is (usually) thrown away. Grab some from a site like Reuze It, or make your own by transforming common items like handkerchiefs, tablecloths, or tea towels into gift wrap. Fabric gift bagsare another awesome option. We’re inspired by 11-year-old entrepreneur Ingrid, who hand-makes these on her sewing machine and sells them online.
There are so many fashion brands that use ethically sourced, sustainably-made materials and packaging, and are worth mentioning. Here are just a few! For kids, check out St Cove, which has a great selection of stunning kids garments made from all-natural fabrics. For teenage girls, The Teen Age sells a range of high-quality clothes, and Bubble Active converts single-use plastic bottles into activewear (15% off).
For adults, Junk Republic (15% off) and Bodhi Active also sell activewear that use fabric made from pre and post-consumer waste, like plastic bottles and fishing nets that were heading to our oceans or landfill. All Things Fi is another noteworthy site if you’re looking to browse a sustainable, slow fashion collection of clothes, and Conscious Step socks give back to all kinds of causes (from equality, to mental health, to protecting elephants). When in doubt, audit fashion brands by their supply chain and environmental impact using a platform like GoodOnYou.
There are extensive reports of human rights abuses like forced and child labour in the mining of jewellery’s raw materials. If you’re looking to gift fine jewellery this Christmas, Sceona sells stunning mining-free, slavery-free, carbon-free, and chemical-free options. Another awesome brand is Etre Blanc, which repurposes authentic vintage designer buttons, uses responsibly sourced materials, and is made-to-order in small quantities to reduce waste.
If you’re searching for something unique, ClayedCoral handcrafts clay earrings and donates 10% of sales toward coral conservation, Bush Kin creates jewellery from locally grown hardwoods (they make a great souvenir – and are also 20% off), and Secret Sisterhood sells jewellery that symbolises and supports female empowerment (20% off). In the bag department, Issara produces some beautiful and ethically handcrafted clutches.
Browsing for a Secret Santa present, or creative gift box to send clients or relatives? Madebox curates high-quality hampers which support regional producers doing it tough from bushfire and drops in tourism as a result of the pandemic, and The Soulful Box (10% off) have a range of sustainable and ethical gift boxes. For bundles that taste good and do good, check out Circle Harvest’s sustainably-farmed food made with edible bugs, I Am Grounded’s snacks that use (otherwise wasted) coffee fruit, and Hey Tiger’s ethically-sourced, slavery-free chocolate gift packs that donate money toward The Hunger Project.
Good Practical Items
Beeswax wraps are one example of a practical switch that you can make around the house, and are a popular alternative to plastic cling-wrap. Tassel & Twine’s wraps have been handcrafted by artisans, NGOs and women’s collectives in India (20% off). If your friend or family member enjoys getting creative, they can even make their own beeswax wrap using Mudita’s fabric offcuts.
Another practical purchase for the whole family are the Rolla Bottle; colour-customisable, reusable drink bottles that roll up small to fit into any handbag, sports bag, or school bag (15% off). And here are a few more pragmatic gift ideas: ‘fruity sacks’ for fruit and vegetable produce (20% off), Zenify stainless steel compost bins (10% off), planet-friendly Crema Joe coffee pods, these creative calendars made from recycled paper, that donate $10 per purchase to a charity of your choice, and bamboo cleaning products, travel cutlery sets and the like from stores like Carys the World (15% off)!
Take your dinner conversations to another level with these cards, designed by Around the Table. Printed on FSC paper and using recycled materials for the carry pouches, these are a family-friendly and environmentally-friendly gift (20% off). For the creatives at heart, Shimmer Drops Paint is another fun option and made from recycled plastic pans and compostable shipping materials.
Good Baby Supplies
Like plastic toothbrushes and water bottles,disposable nappies take years to decompose (around 150 years in fact). Even biodegradable, disposable nappies take decades. Washable, reusable nappies are easy to use, and a gift for the planet. Check out Nest Nappies for environmentally-friendly cloth nappy brands, as well as baby accessories and toys! We also love Indie & Isaac’s pre-loved baby clothes, Sinchies reusable food pouches, the Modimade comfort blanket which is ethically made in Cambodia, and Lion & Lady’s stainless steel baby feeding bottles, sippy cups and puree bottles.
With each soft toy that you purchase from Bebemoss, you help provide jobs that pay a living wage to more than 100 mothers in Istanbul, Turkey. Happy Planet Toys sells bath toys made from recycled milk bottles, Deidda creates some beautiful stuffed animals using surplus organic cotton fabric and filling made from recycled plastic, Little Soldiers has a range of wooden toys (15% off), and Teach Ted sells adoptable, handmade teddy bears and books that support children through major life events, such as hospital admissions and medical procedures (10% off). Circular economy, organic cotton ‘dirtgirl or scrapboy dolls’ that your kids can stitch together themselves also make a fun gift.
Plastic takes up to 1000 years to decompose, and30 million plastic toothbrushes are disposed of every year. Make the switch this Christmas and gift a loved one (or yourself) a compostable, bamboo toothbrush, like this quirky selection by Boo Collective. If you’re in the market for other kinds of bath and body products, Creed & Colour (ethical haircare that doesn’t harm), Pits of Joy, Base Soaps, Mae Laine, Upwards & Co, and Scrubs For Change (started up by a teen entrepreneur in the Gold Coast) have a selection of low impact, cruelty-free options.
There are so many ways to do good this Christmas. Have any others in mind? Comment below, or join the Fishburners Founders Hub or Humans For Good Facebook group, and share your own suggestions with the community.