Merry ECO Christmas! 10 green gift ideas for home and travel.
That time of year is upon us again! Giving a gift to a loved one can be a beautiful way to demonstrate your feelings… or a stressful and expensive exercise in consumerism. The season of giving should be about thoughtfulness and gratitude, and it doesn’t need to cost the earth. This guide will help you to find meaningful, useful and environmentally aware gifts for anyone in your life who would appreciate it.
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- 1 The gift of pure, clean water
- 2 The gift of waste-free coffee on the go
- 3 The gift of a beautiful and sustainable journal
- 4 The gift of chemical-free outdoor fun
- 5 The gift to help alleviate poverty
- 6 The gift basket of reusable food and drink supplies
- 7 The gift of lingerie: with a difference
- 8 The gift of groovy kid’s supplies
- 9 The gift of fair-trade chocolate
- 10 The gift of plastic-free shopping
- 11 Some last thoughts about eco-friendly gift giving
We have a water purifier from Fill2Pure for our travelling, and we love that it filters out all impurities while leaving the good minerals in the water. Their Extreme filter that we have even removes radioactive particles! Fill2Pure have a great range of water bottles as well as jugs and larger containers for home. They’d make an excellent gift for any health-conscious people or travellers in your life.
Fill2Pure is offering a 10% discount to all readers of this blog. Use the code smallfootprints10 on any of their online stores to claim your discount.
The gift of waste-free coffee on the go
Do you have a coffee lover to buy for? Rather than lecture them about the non-recyclable containers that their favourite beverage comes in, try simply giving them an alternative. There is a such a great range of BYO cups around now, you will definitely find one that suits their taste. And you’ll save hundreds of coffee cups entering landfill every year!
If you prefer a mug that won’t break (for travelling or clumsy people like me) I’d recommend plastic Keep Cups. They are BPA free and unbreakable, and they’re great as hard-to-spill kids cups at home too. Otherwise mugs made from glass, rice husk or bamboo fibres are all great choices.
Have you tried writing on stone paper? It’s so smooth! And it’s water-resistant, tear-resistant, doesn’t bleed, and works well for all writing and drawing instruments. And of course, it’s tree-friendly! These Onyx journals come with a cork cover instead of plastic too.
The gift of chemical-free outdoor fun
We have used all of these items, and really like that they do not harm kids, animals or waterways, but still do their job well. Combine them with a home-made voucher for an outdoor adventure, and off you go!
If you want a DEET-free solution to insects, the best repellants to use contain PMD instead, which is a natural extract of lemon eucalyptus.
Bug-Grrr Off Jungle Strength Natural Insect Repellant worked really well for us against mosquitoes in Malaysia, and it’s good to know it doesn’t harm other wildlife or my children’s skin. It seems to be only available in Australia though, but we have found other great brands internationally too.
Most sunscreens use chemical UV absorbers that are harmful to fresh and salt-waterways, as they leave a residue that is ingested by marine life and which causes coral bleaching. Conventional ones are also often irritating to the skin and contain chemicals that are harmful to humans too. But you CAN have sun protection safely and effectively!
- Australians can use Eco-Logical Natural & Reef Friendly Sunscreen, which has kept us from burning while swimming in Australia, on islands in Malaysia, and while exploring in Cambodia.
- Worldwide, a great brand we have also tried is Wotnot. It is safe even for babies, reliable and non-harmful to all creatures.
We love our Green Toys EcoSaucer Flying Disc which is BPA and phalate-free, and made from recycled milk bottles. It flies beautifully and is great for dogs and humans! It also lasts well even when left outside.
- You can buy the disc and many other Green Toys products from Hello Charlie.
Oxfam is an international charity organisation which helps disadvantaged people all over the world. We love their Unwrapped gift card collection, which allows you to donate towards a cause that your recipient relates to. You get a card (electronically or hard copy) all about your gift to give to your loved one, and some people with very little get a chance to live a better life. We have bought these for family and friends for years and they really are a gift that everyone can feel good about.
I love giving small baskets full of thoughtful products to loved ones. Some people prefer food baskets, while others might like a range of eco-friendly food supplies they can use on a picnic, camping or travelling. These are our favourites things. You could even ‘wrap’ them in an esky or cooler bag instead of a basket!
Washable food wraps and snack pouches
- We use these Ecococoon Stainless Steel Tumblers for camping and travelling, and love them!
- Recycled, BPA-Free Stackable Tumblers are another great option for kids.
All natural and recyclable cutlery and crockery
- Bamboo, palm leaves and rice husks are making excellent choices for dinnerware now. They are reusable and best of all, totally biodegradable at the end of their life!
- Bamboo cutlery and palm leaf plates are widely available now. Biome has a large range of cutlery and palm plates to choose from.
Lunchboxes and food containers
- We love these leak-proof glass U-Conserve containers for meals on-the-go.
Reusable, BPA-free water bottles
- I have a post all about our favourite reusable bottles, which are leak-proof and insulated. They don’t have straws yet are easy for kids to operate, and they come in small and large sizes.
This post details essential eco-friendly travel gear that you might be interested in for any travellers in your life.
This is definitely a present for someone you know very well! If a special woman in your life is keen to try alternatives to pads and tampons, Modibodi menstrual underwear is fantastic. They completely replace the need for pads and panty liners and they’re more comfortable too. I’ve found that they’re also very handy for travelling: no more days anxiously wondering if my period is going to arrive, no more sweaty rear-end showing to the world, and no need to try to clean a menstrual cup in a public toilet.
The gift of groovy kid’s supplies
Cool kids love eco-friendly gear just as much as conventional stuff, now there are so many conscientious suppliers making such great stuff!
I bought Apple and Mint backpacks for my children 2 Christmases ago, after searching online for hours trying to find ones that were water-resistant but NOT loaded full of chemicals. These are PVC/BPA/lead-free and non-toxic. Ours are still looking quite new two years later even though we are travelling with them, and I love how they can hold our wide water bottles in the side pockets.
I got our Apple and Mint backpacks from Lime Tree Kids in Australia.
We love non-toxic products, and I also love pencils that actually work properly for kids! These Stubby Pencils are easy to grip, draw smoothly and brightly, and as a bonus they won’t roll too far down the corridor or aeroplane aisle. They are actually a sustainable highlighter replacement product, so are great for adults too.
These beeswax crayons are great for little hands, and they smell good enough to eat! Allegra did try to take a bite out of many in her collection, so it’s great that these are all natural and non-toxic! They are also palm-oil free and come in cardboard packaging.
Personally I don’t take crayons travelling though, after some melted in our car!
Sustainable drawing pads
Kids must create, but they don’t have to contribute to deforestation to do it. Look out for an Eco-Kids Art Pad, which is made from discarded banana stalks! We also love paper made from stone waste.
Another eco-friendly (and free) idea is to make a drawing pad for your kids, from used paper that still has a blank side. Attach it together with a funky front cover, and leave a small note or picture on some of the pages for a really special and personal present.
The gift of fair-trade chocolate
Seriously, who wouldn’t want chocolate? I am always happy with chocolate for a gift! When you buy fair-trade your gift is giving twice, as your money is supporting growers to earn a decent living too. I’ve tested and re-tested all of these brands, just for you! Ok, maybe for me too. I can confirm that they are all delicious and awesome companies to support.
- Pana Chocolate: possibly the best chocolate in the world! If you like rich raw chocolate, you must try Pana. It’s handmade and worth every cent.
- Loving Earth: sustainable wrapping and delicious flavours like salted caramel and choc chip turkish delight… Too good!
- Alter Eco makes sensational block selections and decadent truffles that are great for sharing.
- Plamil Christmas Chocolate is great for kids and anyone who avoids dairy or gluten. I put a couple inside new lunch boxes for Christmas and my children loved the surprise!
The gift of plastic-free shopping
Shopping can be much more sustainable with these easy solutions.
I have had my Envirosax bags for almost 9 years, and I use them several times a week, every week. Mine are not showing any signs of wear and I just pop them in the wash when they’re getting grotty. They are indispensable for shopping plastic-bag free, and as they roll up so small they hardly take up any room in my handbag. We also have them while travelling, and have found they’re very handy for carting our washing around to laundromats too!
There is a big range of recycled, mesh and cotton produce bags available now, to save using the lightweight plastic bags at the supermarket. A set of these is an awesome idea for an eco-friendly shopper! Biome has a great selection of reusable produce bags, including these Fruity Sacks ones which are our favourites.
Some last thoughts about eco-friendly gift giving
The most valuable gift you can give to someone is your time. Whether you use it to make something for them or to buy a thoughtful gift, your time and energy are part of the giving. Spending time because you want to, not because you HAVE to, is much more enjoyable and reflects in the gift you end up giving.
You can also give people your time by planning an experience together, or by simply being with them or helping out in some way. Many people would appreciate special time together more than a present that’s all wrapped up.
Other eco-friendly gifts can be second-hand, recycled, repurposed and up-cycled things. Some friends and I have re-gifted toys and puzzles that our kids no longer use too, which has been a great way to minimise and circulate rather than buy new all the time. Our kids have never minded that they’re not brand new!
Have a think about whether you need to buy wrapping paper and gift cards. You can get creative with children’s paintings, old cards, newspapers, used ribbons, tissue paper from floral arrangements and more, to wrap gifts in a unique and waste-free way. Kids love to help make and decorate cards too.
Finally, whatever you receive this year, please practice gratitude. Being thankful in receiving is something our family talks about often, so we can truly recognise the effort, time, thoughts and hopes that someone is giving us along with a gift.
I wasn’t always grateful in the past, and I now see the effect of that on the people who gave me something with all their heart. I have since vowed to recognise and appreciate every gift offered to me, however small; even a rock that my child thinks is nice. I want to be a model of gratitude to my kids and anyone else I can inspire. I hope you will join me.
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