With a certain gift-giving holiday on the horizon, the question of what to buy your loved ones is building. And in no time at all, you’ll be fielding questions about your own wishlist too. So rather than wait until the last minute or settling for sub-par gift ideas, we’ve come up with some sustainable ways to shop this festive season.
Throwing tradition out the window, we’ve stretched our definition of gift to encompass a range of categories, including experiences, services, sustainable favourites, and donation-based ideas. So whoever you’re shopping for, you’ll find ways to give them something meaningful and eco-friendly - everyone’s a winner!
The experiential gift
Shopping for holiday gifts doesn’t have to mean breaking the record for online purchases - you can buy an experience instead. Rather than trying to find an item your recipient will love, think about their interests, personality, and hobbies - then match these to an experience you can share with them.
The best part about this gift idea is the bonus gift of quality time, whether that’s with you accompanying them, or with their own special someone. It could be buying a workshop or class, like pottery or flower arranging, something more adventurous, like rock climbing or surfing lessons, or a relaxing massage voucher. Just Google your chosen activity in their area, then find a place that offers the experience.
If you’re really hoping to make an impression, you can layer your experiences into a day or night that’s all about your lucky recipient. And it doesn’t even have to cost more! For example, your best friend might swoon over a morning hike, scenic brunch, and afternoon massage, with your company included.
Or if you know your sibling wants to spend more time with their partner, you could plan the perfect date night, pre-book and pay for it, and even throw in babysitting if they have kids. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
The good deed gift
We love this gift idea - it’s sustainable, it gives back in a unique way, and it’s focused on connection, not consumerism. Plus, in a time of higher living costs, it’s the perfect way to show someone you care without spending much - or anything!
What this gift entails is up to you - but essentially, it involves pledging your own time, skills and goodwill, on your own or as a group. For example, if your parents wanted to give their house a makeover, you could round up the family and pledge the time it takes to paint it for them. Or if your sister never gets to travel because she can’t take her dog, you could volunteer a weekend of dog-sitting to let her plan a mini getaway.
You can also offer up your own skills and talents as part of your gift. Maybe you’re a hairdresser that can gift a professional styling or cut. If you’re an accountant, you could pledge to do someone’s tax return for them. Or if you’re a wicked cook, then your gift could be to cater someone’s dinner party, or make a bunch of meals for your busy friend and their family. Consider the services they’d pay for anyway - or wish they could - then use what you know about your loved one to treat them to something personalised.
Another way to do good deeds with your gifts is to pledge meaningful action, with your recipient in mind. If they’re always striving to use less plastic, you could promise to give up single-use plastic items for a month. Or if they’re big advocates for keeping the waterways clean, you could promise to pick up three pieces of rubbish each time you go for a walk in honour of your person.
The eco-friendly brand gift
With so many of us completely time poor these days, it’s a rare occasion when we can spend hours researching the most eco-friendly purchase. So do your friend or family member a favour, and do the work for them. Find out what they want or need this Christmas, then do the work to find the most sustainable option on the market.
Finding the most sustainable gifts is about to get even easier too, thanks to a brilliant initiative known as Green Friday - AKA the ultimate sale for brands that operate with ethical values in mind. Australia’s first sustainability-focused online shopping event runs from 27 October to 3 November this year, and features 150+ Australian retailers and brands who sell products in the sustainability, re-commerce or circular economy space.
The folks behind Green Friday have done the heavy lifting for you, as not all brands are eligible to participate. They choose to work with brands that are committed to their sustainability journey and helping Australian consumers buy better. And for your benefit, Green Friday participants have to complete a sustainability framework, with their answers made public on their brand page so you can shop based on your specific values.
The categories include everything from fashion and personal care, to sports and outdoor gear, but they also feature sustainable gift bundles, utilities and rental services, garden seed packs, and fruit and veg boxes.
And for those who love the luxe feeling of quality natural bedding or ethically sourced and made bedroom furniture, our own range of gift ideas is long. Some favourites we see flying out the door around the holidays include our organic latex pillows, organic French linen, organic cotton play mats for the little ones, and for extra special gifts (or as a gift to yourself), our natural mattresses that make you feel like you’re sleeping in a five-star hotel.
The donation gift
The donation gift category is a familiar one, thanks to companies like Oxfam with gift cards that share how each donation gives back to various communities. But whether you’re asking for a donation-based gift or giving one yourself, there’s ways to make it even more personalised.
For example, you could tick two boxes with one gift by buying a product or experience that supports a cause close to your loved one’s heart. Think a subscription to Who Gives a Crap toilet paper, which donates 50% of profits to clean water and sanitation non-profits, fair trade gifts from sites like For Dignity that work to end modern slavery, or merch from Clothing the Gaps, who fight to create social change and give back to First Nations communities through their foundation.
There’s another crossover that works for the donation category too - and that’s the good deeds gift. The concept is simple - just take what you know about the person you’re shopping for this Christmas, then tailor your donation to the causes they care about.
Examples include donating blood (or pledging to donate), donating clothes or personal care to homeless or DV shelters, donating your time as a volunteer at an organisation they care about (or committing to going together), adopting a koala on their behalf through charities like WWF, or registering as an organ donor.
There’s so many ways you can give back to a cause that means a lot to your gift recipient, while making a sustainable difference in the process.
Give the gift that matters most
Make it your mission this holiday season to give gifts that make an impact - not just on your recipient, but on the world as well. With so many ideas at your fingertips - and money not necessarily an obstacle - you can give a gift that really resonates with your favourites this Christmas.
The level of thought and authenticity that goes into these ethical gifts will already make your present special. Knowing that it’s also considered the sustainable implications? Well, that’s something money can’t buy…