5 top tips for sustainable Christmas presents

By Andy Kenworthy

Gone are the days of last minute plastic knick-knacks and pointless novelty stocking fillers. It’s easier than ever to celebrate friends and family with gifts that do good.

But, in case you’re still scratching your head for that person who has everything, except a healthy biosphere, here are some ideas. It’s all part of the shift to a circular economy, in which resources remain in use, waste is eliminated, and our natural world is restored.

1. Give them an experience

In today’s industrialised world time is probably the greatest luxury we can enjoy. So why not help make their time more amazing? Denizens of New Zealand’s biggest city can splash out on an Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari to learn more about the life of Tikapa Moana/The Huaraki Gulf. In the nation’s capital, why not give them a trip to Zealandia, the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary, or Wellington Zoo? Or simply organise a meet up or picnic for them at one of New Zealand’s astonishingly beautiful parks and beaches?

2. Give by giving!

We all know the uncomfortable feeling of getting asked for donations, or wondering what cause to support and how much. Save them the drama by giving to a cause on their behalf. There’s a range of ways to support WWF-New Zealand on its website, including donations, gift boxes and even sunglasses made out of recycled fishing nets. And Oxfam pioneered the ‘unwrapped’ concept of gifts with a purpose, available at oxfam.org.nz. And of course, you can still buy native trees for one of our Million Metres Projects, giving a gift to the nation’s waterways as well as a loved one.

3. Homemade comes with added care

You don’t have to be able to knit woolly pullovers to dish out handmade goodies. People will relish anything from jams, biscuits, photographs, songs, poems, repurposed decorated glassware, pressed flowers and well, relish. The time you put in will show you care about the person. The lack of resources and packaging used will show you care about the planet too.

4. Preloved is double loved

Growing up is surely about growing out of the idea of having to have the newest version of everything. Meanwhile our towns and cities have plenty of quirky gift offers among the second hand and thrift stores. You won’t know what you’ll find until you go looking, which in itself is a lovely way to spend a day in the holidays.

5. Working bee!

Many of us have a load of tools stacked up in our garages that only get dusted off very occasionally. Meanwhile, we’ve probably got friends who are living with busted things in their house, or contemplating a trip to the DIY store. Why not get more use out of what we already have by offering to tackle someone else’s home improvement headache? You could do anything from painting and decorating to revitalising their garden.

Still want to go shopping?

Check out our product stewardship directory and buy from businesses that are designing and making products to last, then putting systems in place to enable them to be reused and recycled when they are worn out. You’ll find everything from consumer goods to furniture, electrical equipment and clothing and textiles.

And, for more sustainable gift ideas, visit the Sustainable Business Network’s Christmas Gift Guide.