Rena on gifts that are kinder

November 21, 2016

Rena on gifts that are kinder

We've got a few Christmas-themed Home Tips coming up on everything from reducing waste to paying it forward. Our retail manager Rena gets us started with a few tips on buying gifts that are kinder to the environment and people. 

I'm a sucker for Christmas. I love planning just the right gift for each person, getting the whānau together for a roast chicken with all the trimmings on a hot summer’s day, and heading to the beach afterwards. I sing along (badly) to David Bowie and Bing Crosby's Little Drummer Boy and make reindeer food with the kids out of rolled oats and leftover popcorn.

With all that festivity and good feeling going around it's really easy to get carried away and blow the budget. We all end up buying gifts just for the sake of it, panic buying on Christmas Eve, and getting sucked in to the latest kids' craze.

Hatchimals, I'm looking at you.

Come Boxing Day you're standing in a wasteland of wrapping paper, broken toys at your feet, a bit of tinsel stuck in your hair, and you're wondering what you're going to do with three Lily of the Valley soap sets. If that sounds familiar, and you are looking for ways to have a more eco-friendly Christmas then you've come to the right place. I’m not a total Grinch and there’s absolutely no need to cancel Christmas just to do what’s right for the planet. Six easy steps to an eco-friendly Christmas:

  1. One way to limit the impact of your Christmas gift giving is to think about the  origin of the things that you are giving. Look for Fairtrade certification to make sure that the people making your gifts are being paid a fair wage. Look for local businesses to buy from rather than international chain stores, as there are lots of people in our communities with small businesses making great things. Shop Small is a site dedicated to New Zealand small businesses. Our Twilight Market this Friday will have lots of clever Wellingtonians selling their wares just in time to fill your Christmas stockings.
  2. Presents don't need to be brand new. Keep an eye out on Trade Me for a Crown Lynn vase for your Mum, grab a pack of wooden train tracks for the kids from the op shop and package them in a nice box. Your local buy and sell page on Facebook is a great way to get your hands on items that were given last year for Christmas and are ready for another go under the tree this year. It's amazing what you can find when you start to look beyond the mall.
  3. Make your own gifts. If you are a baker then bust out your famous Ginger Slice recipe or try out the latest paleo/organic/gluten-free/vegan/sugar-free treat your loved one is sharing on Instagram. Get the kids involved and package up biscuit ingredients in a jar and get them to make personalised cards. Grab a box of tomatoes from the weekend market and make jars of relish for everyone. Pick up some frames from the op shops for the kids' artworks and give them to their adoring grandparents.
  4. Give experiences instead of things. If you know your sister has had a stressful year then give her a voucher for a massage. And a hug. Ask the grandparents if they'd consider giving the kids Zoo passes, passes to Zealandia, or swimming lessons. As well as giving experiences you can give your time - make a date to take the mokos to the Zoo, if you are a keen gardener give a friend a pack of seeds and make the time to show them how to set up their own garden, give the kids a tool set and some wood and spend a day making a bird feeder. Then spend the evening laughing at your lack of DIY skills. It will go down in family legend and they’ll remember it more than if you’d just bought them the latest gadget.
  5. Instead of going all out with the Christmas presents you can suggest to your family that you only buy for one person each or put a price cap on gifts to take the pressure off. If you are buying for people who really do have it all then could all buy something to eat or drink, put it in a basket and then everyone can take turns at picking out an item that they like. There are lots of local breweries with great craft beers on hand, Wairarapa is home to some lovely olive oil producers, and no one ever said no to a bar of Wellington Chocolate Factory Fairtrade Chocolate.
  6. Electronics are a popular gift for Christmas. Everyone loves a new shiny gadget and it can be a way for parents to combine a Christmas gift with the device that they may need for the coming school year. Baptist World Aid Australia has compiled a report on electronic companies and has some great information on who has ethical production and manufacturing and who doesn’t. If at all possible, avoid giving gifts that require batteries. If your heart is really set on a remote control car (you say it’s for the kids but come on, who are we kidding?) then invest in rechargeable batteries. If you really need to then once the silly season is over you can recycle old batteries at our EcoCentre for $5 a kg.
Meri kirihimete and have a happy and eco-friendly Christmas.



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