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How To Approach Gift Giving For The Eco-Conscious People In Your Life

ILLUSTRATION BY RICHARD CHANCE
At Refinery29 Australia, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but we may earn commission or other compensation from the links on this page. 
Between the reams of non-recyclable wrapping paper and the mountains of food waste and plastic toys, there’s no denying that Christmas is a fundamentally unsustainable time of year. 
While it was born out of a religious holiday, in the modern age, Christmas is more about consumption than Christianity. That’s why many eco-conscious people may not want to participate or have certain rules around gifting. 
But just because you care about the planet doesn't mean you should miss out on the joy of gift-giving. If you’re looking for a gift for your eco-conscious pals (that won’t clash with their values), then read on.

Help Your Loved Ones Learn A New Skill

Rather than buying 'things' for your friends this year, why not buy them an intangible experience they'll remember forever? Companies such as Red Balloon and Adrenaline have tonnes of fun experiences available all around the country. From wine tasting to surfing lessons, you're giving your friend some memories to look back on rather than an item that will end up in landfill.
Work-shop also has a range of classes and courses to choose from if you think your friend would prefer to learn tufting or how to make ceramics rather than jumping out of an airplane.
Another sustainable gift option is a subscription to something they like. Maybe they've been wanting to try out a new yoga studio? Or perhaps they love reading, so you could get them a digital magazine subscription. It's a win-win, since you know they already enjoy it.
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Find Gifts That Give Back

While it can be hard to shop ethically under capitalism, some brands offset consumption by supporting charities or creating their own initiatives that give back to people. Although these gifts can signify your love and appreciation for the receiver, they also have a bigger purpose and can help to create a fairer world.
Brands like The Body Shop source ingredients, packaging and items that help to create economic opportunities for women living in rural areas around the globe. This means that when you buy any Christmas gift pack this year, you're helping to bring real change to small-scale farmers and skilled artisans.
The Body Shop also has a whole range of vegan gifts that save animals from being exploited for our benefit. These ideas are a nice warm and fuzzy option for your friend who cares about people, animals and the planet.

Embrace Your Sentimental Side

It may take a little more planning but by being sentimental, you can think of some really heartfelt gifts that don't cost the earth. One idea is to head to your local secondhand store and purchase some photo frames. Then print off a few pictures of your best memories with your loved one.
If you're artistically inclined, why not paint a small canvas for the recipient? Or if you're a writer, perhaps a poem can convey how much that person means to you. By creating something yourself, your eco-conscious friend is likely to hold onto the item more closely and know that it was made with love rather than haphazardly bought at a shopping centre on Christmas Eve.
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Give Jewellery That Will Last A Lifetime

There are many Australian sustainable jewellery brands that create handmade pieces which will be sure to stay in your friend's trinket tray for years to come. Not only are you supporting local by buying from an Australian brand, but you're also voting with your wallet in encouraging recycled materials and made-to-order production.
Slow jewellery brands like Temple Of The Sun, Cleopatra's Bling and Linden Cook reject the over-consumption encouraged by high street stores and allow you to give a memorable gift that can be cherished for life.

Buy Something You Know They'll Actually Use

Okay, cleaning products might not be the sexiest gift ever, but we all need to clean, right? The good news is that there are a lot of eco-friendly cleaning products out there. Pleasant State is an Australian brand that has created non-toxic concentrated bars that dissolve in water. They come with glass spray bottles so you can just refill them with the dissolvable bars once finished.
Other eco-friendly cleaning brands like Zero Co are made from recycled materials that are diverted from landfill and have a refill service rather than people needing to buy new products (made from plastic) every month. Blueland also makes plastic-free cleaning products and claims to have eliminated a whopping 1 billion single-use plastic bottles from landfill since 2019.
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All of these brands have great starter kits for your Type A friend who loves spending Saturdays cleaning the house, but this time they can do it while looking after the planet as well.
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Looking for more meaningful gifting ideas? Head to our Conscious Giving page to help you celebrate more intentionally this year.
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