Present gifting and sustainability often don’t mix together very well. Most of the time I am pulling my hair out trying to find something that a) my special someone will love and b) doesn’t create unnecessary waste or trash the planet. Whether you live a low-waste lifestyle or trying to find a gift for someone who does, these tips are for you:
When people say ‘experience gifts’ what often comes to mind are hot air balloon rides and full day spa treatments. Doesn’t sound too bad, but sometimes finances get in away. If you are on the lower side of the budget, come up with experiences that you can put together yourself. It can be anything…a little hiking adventure with a picnic basket full of their
Ditch wrapping paper
Right about now you are probably thinking “What the hell lady! There is no better feeling than ripping off wrapping paper/how am I supposed to wrap my gifts/it is not even plastic”. We think that because it is *technically* paper, it can be recycled. Unfortunately, wrapping paper is often dyed, laminated and contains glitter or plastics, which means it can’t go into the blue bins. Even if you can find a wrapping paper roll that passes recycling test, it will (more often than not) have a thin layer of plastic around it for protection. Solution?
Stop using it all together. This is your chance to get creative and save your hard-earned cash money! There are plenty of alternatives, including wrapping your gifts in old newspapers, finding thick recycled paper or reusing packaging that was given to you (you can keep a handy box in your storage).
Don’t be afraid to look for gifts at op-shops
We all know that our online shopping sprees are not great for our wallets or the environment. Let me hit you up with a scary stat – every $100 we spend on shopping contributes to 70 kg of greenhouse pollution and 3,000 litres of water use. Good news is if you choose to op-shop you will not only reduce your environmental footprint, but also save things from going to the landfill.
Going to an op shop for me is like embarking on a treasure hunt – you can always find hidden gems in the sections you least expect. It is also a great place to source stuff for crafty and homemade presents. If your local op-shop just doesn’t do it for you, you can always venture out and explore, especially when you travel overseas or interstate.
Give a gift of sustainability
So, is your sister/next-door neighbour/work bestie is talking your ear off about that stainless-steel lunch box they saw on Facebook? This one is a no brainer, chances are they will die and go to zero waste heaven the moment they can see shiny steel as they unwrap that newspaper you so fabulously repurposed. You are a sustainability hero, Earth becomes an even better place to be – sounds like a win-win situation to me. Stores like Biome and Flora & Fauna stock amazing eco – friendly products that cater for all budgets and are worth checking out.
Swap flowers for pot plants
Flowers are such a versatile gift. If I didn’t know someone that well or had a limited budget (and didn’t want to spend it on a crappy present), flowers had always been my go-to. Up until recently, I had no idea just how harmful they can be to the environment when sourced and/or disposed of incorrectly. Here’s why:
According to study conducted by Dr Adrian Williams, delivery of 12,000 cut stems of roses by air can emit 2,200 kg CO2, a major greenhouse gas. Good news is only 10% percent of the flowers sold in Australia are imported; majority are Australian-grown and usually distributed within 100km of the farm. Bad news? More often than not, flowers end up in waste bins rather than being composted at the end of their life cycle. It goes straight to the landfill and turns into methane, which contributes to global warming.
So, what a flower-loving gal gotta do?
Try and switch to pot plants. I know for many people it might be an adjustment – I killed my own share of plants, but environmental and health benefits are undeniable. Pick an easy to care for plants like Peace Lily or Bird of Paradise (otherwise, succulents and cacti are perfect for people who are notorious for their plant killing abilities) and make sure to choose one that comes in a ceramic pot to avoid plastic waste.
Abstain from gift-giving
Many people who live zero-waste lifestyle decide not to engage in present gifting altogether. If you have been specifically asked to not bring a gift, then the best possible present you can give is well…nothing. And oh boy it’s not easy, especially if you come from a cultural background where you can’t even go to someone’s house without a gift or an offering of some sort. If you just can’t show up without a gift, find out what this person is passionate about and donate to relative charity on their behalf instead. This way your money can actually make a difference instead of causing a feeling of guilt on both sides.