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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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.
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.
- Aussies: Biome has a huge range of Keep Cups and many are 15% off at present.
- Readers from other continents: try your local Amazon store’s range of reusable coffee cups.
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 and Green stone notepads make wonderful working notebooks, sketchpads or traveller’s journals.
4. 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-Grr 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, so we have found Mosi guard as we have travelled and it works well too. Is is more readily available around the world.
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 30+ Natural & Reef-Friendly Sunscreen which has kept us from burning while swimming in Australia and on islands in Malaysia.
- Worldwide, a great brand we have also tried is Wotnot Sunscreen 150g. 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.
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
- Stainless steel straws with a cleaning brush
- Recycled, BPA-free stackable tumblers
- Bamboo 3 Piece Biodegradable Cutlery Set
- Stainless steel tiffins and food containers
- Reusable & BPA-free water bottles
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.
Modibodi has some single items and 7-day packs on clearance at the moment!
8. The gift of groovy kid’s supplies
Cool kids love eco-friendly stuff just as much as conventional stuff, now there are so many conscientious suppliers out there.
I bought Apple and Mint backpacks for my children last Christmas, 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 a year 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. They have some on sale at the moment.
We love non-toxic products, and I also love pencils that actually work properly for kids! These Eco Highlighter Pencils 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.
I bought these Crayon rocks for Allegra as she began drawing, and they are great. They are easy to hold for small fingers and have bright colours but no chemicals, petroleum or palm oil. Personally I don’t take crayons travelling though, after some melted in our car.
Kids must create, but they don’t have to contribute to deforestation to do it. This Eco-Kids Eco-Art Pad is made from discarded banana stalks! What a great paper alternative.
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.
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.
- Loving Earth: sustainable wrapping and delicious flavours like salted caramel and choc chip turkish delight… Too good!
- Alter Eco: sensational block selections and decadent truffles that are great for sharing.
- Pana Chocolate: possibly the best chocolate in the world! If you like rich chocolate, you must try Pana. It’s handmade and worth every cent.
- Plamil Christmas Chocolate is great for kids and anyone who is allergic or intolerant to dairy or gluten. I put a couple in new lunch boxes last year and my children loved the surprise.
10. The gift of plastic-free shopping
Shopping can be much more sustainable with these easy solutions.
I have had my Envirosax bags for almost 8 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.
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 we talk 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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