We’re all becoming more aware of how our choices impact the environment, whether it’s how we choose to get from one place to another, where we shop or what we eat. According to The World Bank, about 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) are produced annually worldwide. They estimate overall waste generation will increase to 3.40 billion metric tons by 2050. Meanwhile, AlterNet says that on a yearly basis, humans worldwide have gone from generating 750 tons of waste to 1.5 billion tons in just a decade. In short, we’re producing a lot of waste all year round. But now the holidays are here and this is when we waste the most: approximately 30 percent more waste than usual over Christmas. From wrapping paper to packaging and temporary decorations, there’s a lot of unnecessary waste that gets used once and thrown away and maybe this year is the year we make a change.
A lifestyle overhaul is never easy, especially when there’s so much else to think about, but if we can make even a small reduction in our Christmas-time waste, it’ll make a difference. One of the best ways to cut down on rubbish is to think about the kinds of gifts we give and make a concerted effort to go green for the season.
It’s absolutely possible to give gifts that don’t cost the planet; gifts that are waste-free and environmentally friendly. Changing small aspects of gift-giving can make a huge difference and you might be surprised how easy it is to do. Luckily, there are plenty of items to help you make the transition to creating less waste and lots of benefits to making the shift. Often, the smallest changes have the biggest impact, creating a ripple effect of other positive changes in your life. Plus, giving an eco-friendly gift not only saves on waste, it might also inspire the receiver to live more sustainably, for even longer-lasting change. So, we’ve rounded up some great gift ideas from our favourite makers and brands to give you a starting point. They’re all sustainably sourced and produced, and all made from low-impact materials that won’t leave a mark on the environment.
Have a browse through these gorgeous gifts from thoughtful local brands that make sustainable, functional and locally sourced goodies–perfect as green gifts that lots of people will appreciate.
With an aim to support the community and use local resources, MadMatter is having fun using materials no one cares about and using innovative methods to turn them into useful items of worth. From tote bags to caps, hats and even glasses straps, you can find their lovely products here.
Check out bag makers Mat Archer. From their ‘Retrieve’ collection comes the coveted convertible Backpack/Messenger bag. Fully waterproof, it measures 15.6” and comes complete with a laptop compartment. These clever makers use abandoned fishing nets from the ocean as their core material to produce their stylish, sleek and eco-chic bags. Take a look for yourself here.
In Thai, the word “hom” means that something smells good, and everyone knows that delicious smelling things make great gifts. For a natural soy candle, check out Hom Fragrances, who make all their fragrant treasures in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. Made from 100% soybean and beautifully presented in a recycled bottle, there are lots of wonderful smells to choose from, all of which come in small and large sizes. Check them out here.
Save Earth Store
Save Earth Store is the centre of creative, new, on-trend products for your chic and chill lifestyle. Their innovative philosophy is all about adding value to waste materials and promoting renewable energy and eco-friendly design. There are more than 100 items to choose from. Think handy appliances and gadgets, bags, accessories, home and office decorations and spa treats. Head down the rabbit hole of goodies here.
SuperBee makes reusable food wraps and are dedicated to eliminating plastic and waste. With a mission to be socially responsible, they create sustainable products, focusing on useful and biodegradable alternatives to everyday items you can use in your kitchen and beyond. Check out their wax wraps, which are perfect for preserving your leftovers, the wax bag, which is great for picnics, their DIY beeswax wraps kit, which is ideal for your creative friend, and an eco-travel set… It’s all here.
Akha Ama Coffee
With the goal of supporting their local community by creating a coffee production industry that covers everything from cultivation to brewing, all in one place, Akha Ama Coffee operates in accordance with the highest standards in all relationships with customers, suppliers and the environment. Shop their products, from humble beans to brew-it-yourself bags, with countless varieties of roasts here.
Kad Kokoa is the first Thai bean-to-bar organic chocolate company dedicated to promoting Thai craft chocolate. If you’re only just starting to hear about Thai-made chocs, it’s thanks to these trailblazers, who have been busy creating a whole new culture. The brand uses single-terroir Thai cacao to make their chocolate bars, drinks and a delectable pastry menu. It’s all top notch in quality and flavour. See for yourself here.
Combining traditional wisdom and modern methods, Patom uses raw materials from either their certified organic farm or from a network of local organic farmers. They curated a heavenly range of products, from organic skincare and beauty items, to coffees, pastries and delicious dishes made with real Thai ingredients. Indulge in their treats here.
If you’re looking for gifts that focus on rejuvenating your natural beauty, care for your hair, skin, and the environment at the same time, look no further. Common Ground is your Organics Buddy. Find irresistible goodies for friends (or yourself) here.
Organics Buddy also offers a Soganics range, packed with products that offer powerful and natural cleaning for your home, to help you protect yourself and your family from harmful substances. All formulas are made from plant-based ingredients, so their products are safe for everyone. Transform your clean-up mission with Soganics here.
Aoon Pottery is a handcrafted ceramic studio and testing room located in Bangkok’s Chinatown (near our upcoming opening). They aim to enhance your life with handmade ceramics and hands-on creative fun. Visit the studio, complete with potter’s wheels, and try the yummy food and drinks, all of which is served on their charming creations, obviously. Browse before you buy here.
Maria Natural Beauty
“Be your own kind of beautiful“ is the Maria Naturally Beauty motto. They make natural and organic cosmetics in Thailand and thanks to the use of premium 15-year-old thanaka wood, their stuff is suitable for sensitive skin, acne and pregnant women. Some of their soothing and gentle beauty items include natural powder, mineral blush and vegan lip treatment. Get the look here.
FolkCharm apparel and accessories are made from organic and community-grown hand-spun cotton yarn, using a traditional method of handloom weaving and detailed tailoring. Their fabric is super soft on the skin and incredibly comfortable. Check it out here
Sustainable ways to wrap your gifts
Now you’ve got the perfect gift, you’ve got to wrap it. As you already know, gift wrapping paper is incredibly wasteful, especially when we’re talking about the shiny or highly metallic types that can’t be recycled. But what if you could wrap your gift in an eco-friendly way? With a little ingenuity and organisation, you’ll find lots of ways to conjure gift wrap from waste, from reusing your old bags and boxes, to repurposing newspaper. One of our favourite waste-saving techniques is a beautiful tradition from Japan. It’s called furoshiki and was originally used as a way of wrapping clothes, gifts, or other goods–anything from a bento box to a wine bottle. The technique involves choosing a cloth, traditionally a scarf or scrap of clothing (which can be substituted with recycled gift paper) and cleverly folding it with no need for tape or ribbons, to create an elegant and waste-free case for your gift. Get started with this art form on Youtube here
Bonus eco inspiration
It’s a busy time of year, but you can still learn while you’re on the go. Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular precisely because we can easily fit them into our busy lifestyles. It’s information and entertainment, in bite-size chunks, right at your fingertips and direct to your ears. You can find a podcast dedicated to any topic you’re interested in, but why not check out an environmental show for more ideas on eco life hacks and behaviour change? We’ve got a couple of recommendations for podcasts you can listen to while you’re cleaning, working out, on your commute to and from work, or even when you just need some quality “me” time.
Why not check out:
The Minimalists Podcast – Average length 60mins
Enjoy honest and compelling episodes about living a minimalist life in terms of relationships, home, self-care, the workplace and more. With a creative and relatable approach to podcasting, this one is a must for us all.
Green Dreamer – Average length 30mins
Perfect for creatives pursuing more environmentally conscious work and lifestyles, this multimedia journal helps illuminate the paths to ecological regeneration, intersectional sustainability, and true abundance in all areas of life.
Holidays are busy, hectic and stressful, but they can also be a great time for reflecting and making impactful changes. Why not use the season as a reason to inspire friends and family to live more sustainably, and get the conversation started by giving an eco-friendly gift, wrapped in a sustainable way. By being conscientious about your gifts, you can work to reduce your environmental impact and give your favourite people something useful, stylish and meaningful.
What eco-friendly gifts are you thinking about giving to your loved ones?