News | 1 December 2021
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Gifting green and affordable this summer

Christmas shouldn't cost the earth. Get creative with these green gift ideas that are perfect for the festive season, and better for the planet.

A hand placing a pohutakawa blossom into the bow on a gift which has been wrapped in hand dyed blue fabric.

In the month after Christmas, Wellingtonians send 40 percent more rubbish to the Southern Landfill than any other month – 1000 tonnes of rubbish. That’s the equivalent weight of 76 double decker buses.

Giving gifts is such a fun part of Christmas. It’s a way to connect with family and friends and show appreciation and love. But sometimes it can get stressful and cost lots of money and time.

And it seems it’s not always so easy to find the right gift. On Boxing Day 2020, Trade Me recorded more than 4,000 listings for unwanted Christmas presents.

Green Gifting is about getting creative and finding fun and thoughtful alternatives to buying new stuff, so we reduce seasonal waste and leave a lighter footprint on the environment.

Here are five tips for a green gift:

A glass bottle of oil, a metal container full of star shaped biscuits, a glass jar of chai, a note that says

1. Get organised in advance

Get in early and have the ‘present’ conversation with family and friends. You might agree to have no gifts, and instead put the saved money and time into just being together. Alternatively, instead of buying a present for everyone, why not draw names out of a hat and have each family member buy just one person in the family one quality present.

2. Consider experiences over material things

Maybe you could gift a voucher for a massage, organise a picnic, or if you have particularly useful skills like repairs, mending or mentoring, you could gift these for future use. There are all sorts of homemade consumables that make great green gifts, like home baking, cordials, kombucha, chutneys, fermented goodies and spice mixes. If it’s within your budget, a day pass to the Zoo, Zealandia or Space Place are experiences everyone can enjoy together.

Little miniature contstruction workers on a metal circuit board, pretenting to repair it.
Give your electronic devices a second life by repairing them rather than throwing them away.

3. Give things a second life

Head to the Tip Shop, your local op shop, or Trade Me to find treasure. Have a chat with your friends and family and see if they have any favourite things that you or a professional could repair for them, shoes that need new soles, broken jewellery, an amp, a zipper on a favourite top.

4. Buy local and from the product creator

If you do choose to buy something new, try to buy local products directly from the maker, aim for quality over quantity and avoid cheap flimsy things that have a track record of only lasting for a few months – things like inflatable toys, flimsy camping chairs, gimmicky ‘joke’ presents. Ideally get things that are repairable and at the end of their usable life can be composted or recycled.

5. Get creative when wrapping

Don’t feel pressured into spending lots of money on wrapping paper that will be used once then discarded. You can save money by using something reusable like a scarf or up cycled and compostable materials like newspaper or an old kids drawing. If you do use wrapping paper, try to avoid glitter or laminated paper as these are not recyclable or compostable.

Two glass jars with slices of lemon and reusable straws, a metal food container with flowers on top, all sitting on a table covered with quilted fabric in a grassy garden.

For more tips on how to reduce your waste at home, at work, or at an event, visit our website.