Eco-friendly gift wrapping. Picture: Instagram.
Eco-friendly gift wrapping. Picture: Instagram.

6 tips for shopping eco-friendly this Christmas

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Nov 23, 2021

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Six ways to be eco-conscious when Christmas shopping.

Sustainable

Buying gifts online often involves a whole lot of bubble wrap, duct tape, paper stuffing, cardboard boxes, fuel for shipping and more.

Pick online platforms that offer sustainable packaging options or buy in-store wherever possible to avoid extra waste. As far as possible, shop with our own shopper bags to avoid buying new ones in store with every purchase as well as having to opt for plastic out of desperation.

If you’re buying for kids, choose wooden, material and soft cloth toys over plastics and metals that end up clogging land ills once they inevitably chip and break. Value quality over quantity. One well-made, slightly pricey gift often beats several cheap gifts that will either shrink in the wash or rip, tear and break.

Vintage/pre-loved

Thrifting has gained a reputation for being an excellent source for discovering styles from previous decades and reviving them. Often the items you find in a thrift store or antique shop – whether it’s furniture, tool kits, jewellery or clothing – are of better quality for a lower cost.

Fast fashion and manufacturing of goods at a factory level have led to poorer quality items making their way to supermarket shelves.

If you’re on the hunt for something unusual, check out a thrift or antique shop to get your hands one anything from designer brands at a fraction of the cost to authentic kitchenware straight from your favourite decade. Since they're preloved, you're helping contribute to a circular economy.

Vegan-friendly

If you’re going the eco-friendly route, you may also want to consider looking for vegan-friendly options too.

Vegan products are widely regarded to be better for the planet than those that include animal by-products because they tend to have far lower carbon, water and ecological footprints.

From fashion and beauty products to treats and snacks for stocking stuffers, there are a tonne of wonderful vegan-friendly options available at most stores. But, if you want to be sure that a product is really vegan, check the packaging and research ingredients you are unsure of.

Buying from a reputable website or store is also recommended. Read reviews online to see how well-liked the items you’re choosing are. Doing so can help you make a well-informed decision and prevent disappointment.

Gift with purpose

Thoughtful gifts are always the best. They show you’ve been paying attention to the person you’re giving to as well as any possible hints.

While it’s always tempting to give people something you love, try to focus on what the person may want or need. Trinkets, ornaments and common gifts that are always gifted at this time of the year should be avoided.

Things like cosmetic bags, stationery/notebooks, PJs and slippers are popular present options that often end up being gifted two to three times over, resulting in waste and clutter. According to Australian research by ING, unwanted gifts worth more than $400-million were given in 2018, with more than10 million unwanted gifts received.

To avoid being a part of the statistic, opt for useful gifts that will make a difference in your loved one's life. If you’re clueless, there’s no shame in asking their close friend for for tips.

Consider packaging

Making the effort to find an eco-friendly gift for your loved one and then spoiling it with unsustainable packaging is a rookie mistake. While we’re sure the receiver will appreciate the effort, it would be a whole lot more impactful if you went all out with your sustainability efforts.

Plastic ribbon bows, gift cards decorated with glitter and covered in plastic packaging, gift bags that aren’t made of paper and sticky tape are not great for the environment. They’ll probably end up clogging landfills or polluting the environment if incorrectly disposed of.

Instead, use old fabric, cloth, recycled paper, newspaper, brown paper shopping bags, or pre-loved gift bags.

You can get creative decorating your wrapping paper, drawing holiday-themed characters if you’re handy with a pen or simply tying twine or silk ribbons around the package to complete the look.

Try washi tape or brown paper tape, these are made from renewable sources such as hemp and bamboo which are biodegradable.

Pick local

Whether it’s the food shopping for Christmas lunch or dinner, the presents or the decor, as far as possible pick local over imported.

Fresh and local produce is always best. Imported fruit and vegetables carry hefty prices due to how far they’ve travelled to be available to you.

Local is always more nutritious because freshly picked fruit and veg begin to lose their nutrients within 24 hours of being picked.

Locally owned enterprises also tend to procure their resources and staff locally, necessitating less travel.

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