Green Gift Giving

By Lizette Salmon    WATCH (Wodonga & Albury Towards Climate Health)

Bah, humbug. There, I’ve said it. Yes, I’m afraid I’m one of those people who doesn’t really relish the Christmas season. With every passing year I get more down about how commercial Christmas has become. I can’t help but think of the greenhouse pollution produced by the manufacture and transportation of all those gifts and trinkets, and the precious resources squandered to produce them. Then there’s the sad reality that most of these superfluous stocking-fillers end up as landfill which leaches toxic chemicals and is unable to decompose for hundreds of years. Yes, I know I sound like a depressive stick-in-the-mud, but do we really need more manufactured stuff? Are our lives really more meaningful and happy because of these materialistic exchanges? I understand the joy of giving gifts but it’s the type and volume of our gift giving that needs to be reconsidered. How can we acknowledge special occasions while minimising the detrimental environmental impact of our gifts?

The best green gifts are those that actually benefit the environment such as plants, seeds, donations to environmental charities and carbon offset vouchers. If these are not appropriate for your occasion, perhaps consider gifts that produce negligible carbon emissions including ‘services’ such as cinema tickets or a massage voucher. Sometimes I give second-hand gifts or those that will help someone live a more environmentally conscious life, such as a yoghurt maker or reusable take-away coffee cup. Other times I try to buy products that have been produced in an environmentally friendly way, such those made from recycled materials or that are recyclable. Often the most appreciated gift of all is to offer time and assistance to someone, such as a babysitting or gardening voucher. Now that’s a gift many of us would love to receive.

Several times a year a small group of my friends meet up for lunch to celebrate a birthday. I’m always so impressed with the thought and effort that goes into the environmentally-conscious gifts we exchange. Home-made preserves and chocolates, seeds from the garden, baked delicacies, gallery tickets, locally grown produce, pre-loved books and home-knitted gloves, to name a few. We even take care with how we wrap our presents, although no one has been as original as my sister who once gave me a gift wrapped in a tea towel.

 So if you’re into conscious living, why not conscious giving too? Happy Christmas to you all.