Christmas is a time for giving, but for the eco-friendly family, trying to do the right thing for the world doesn’t really sit easily with the conspicuous consumption – not to mention the tonnes of paper and packaging – that seem bound up in “traditional” presents. Fortunately as an increasing number of people have found out, it is possible to deal with the problem and still have a great time picking gifts for everyone. There’s no shortage of green gifts around to suit just about anyone, and any budget; here are a few ideas to get you thinking about your own choice of eco-friendly presents in time for this Christmas.
Fair Trade Goodies
Something nice to nibble over the festive season never goes amiss, so if you are planning on giving something edible, then it’s worth taking a look at the range of fair trade, organic and locally produced foods on offer. Once a bit of a rarity outside of specialist shops, the variety has grown enormously over recent years and even the smallest branches of the supermarket chains have a good selection to choose from, and it’s not just about coffee and chocolates anymore!
Aside of food, there’s plenty of other ethically produced items available, particularly in the larger charity shops, from hand carved egg cups to intricately crafted curios, baskets and wall hangings. Whether you’re looking to cut your gift-miles, support local cooperatives in the developing world, or do your bit for animal welfare, you should be able to find something for everyone.
It seems everyone loves a gadget, and when it comes to being green and eco-friendly there are plenty to consider. Ever since Trevor Baylis invented his hand-cranked radio back in the late 1980s, clockwork gizmos have been enjoying the sort of resurgence that would make the Victorians proud, with everything from torches to MP3 players getting the “wind-up” treatment. If the prospect of all that winding is beginning to sound just a bit too physical, solar-powered gadgets are on hand to make sure your rechargeable batteries and pieces of equipment never lack the necessary oomph – at prices from a modest £20–30 and go all the way to ten times that amount, and more.
There really is a gadget for every home, from the serious “grown-up” stuff such as energy meters and standby-busting plugs right down to amusing little USB-driven buttons to put your PC into instant hibernation. With so much to choose from, you really can’t go wrong.
Charity shops for organisations involved in environmental causes are an obvious good place to look for gifts, but it’s worth remembering that anything bought from a charity shop has a claim to being eco-friendly if it’s been recycled rather than thrown away. You’re reducing waste and supporting a good cause into the bargain!
If you’re looking for something distinctly different, however, you might like to think about giving your friends and relations a goat, chicken or donkey for Christmas – but not personally, you understand! The idea of giving a gift which actually entails the farm animal of your choice being provided to a family in the developing world on behalf of your nearest and dearest – a sort of sponsorship by proxy – has really caught on over the last ten years, as the number of charities now doing it shows. It’s not just farm animals either; a number of wildlife organisations and conservation projects have similar schemes which allow your family and friends to greet Christmas morning as the proud “owner” of some rare beast or a tiny plot of land in an endangered habitat.
Of course you need to be sure that the gift you buy comes from a reputable charity and not some greedy con-artist, and to remember that not everyone will appreciate knowing that they’re the lucky recipient of a wart-hog in Kenya – but if the idea appeals, it’s got a lot going for it.
With so much choice so readily available, whether you choose to put a clean water supply for a poor family in Africa, a solar-powered gimmicky gizmo or a fair trade hamper on your Christmas list this year, there’s never been a better time to give eco-friendly gifts. Happy shopping!