I know the feeling, it’s the week before Christmas and you still haven’t managed to get anything for your loved ones. Your life is super busy, work is incredibly hectic just before holiday time and you are beating yourself up for having left it last-minute another year.
The temptation to get some last-second random thing from Amazon or another big retailer is really strong, as it’s probably the most convenient option. However, please think twice before doing so.
Christmas is, in fact, an incredibly harmful time for the environment. In the UK alone it is estimated that an extra 30% of rubbish is produced and thrown away during the holiday period when compared with the rest of the year.
We are talking about 3 million tonnes of additional waste for just a few weeks, and this included cards, packaging wrapping, plastic envelopes, discarded trees and much much more. The UK will also discard something like 500 tonnes of Christmas lights each year!
But the UK is not alone in this wasteful bonanza, our cousins across the pond in the US are estimated to produce 25% more waste between Christmas and New Year, an estimated 1m tons each week.
We are so used to eat more, buy more, use more energy during Christmas that we are truly oblivious to the environmental costs of our habits.
And last-minute purchases seem to make matters worse. Yes, because in the hurry to get something for everybody we know, we are more prone to buy less-though about gifts, which statistically tend to be made with less sustainable materials or ingredients, as well as being packaged in single-use plastic or unrecyclable wrappings.
To help out, here’s our list of best last-minute eco-gifts with a soul and a purpose, that will make everybody happy, especially our beautiful planet Earth!
1. GIFT CARD FROM A SUSTAINABLE ECO-STORE
One of the risks of buying gifts at the very last second is that we don’t really have time to think properly about the receiver’s taste or preference, hence incurring in the risk of buying something either very generic or not suitable to the person who receives it. I have received so many presents I either didn’t need or not particularly liked it, and the result is our homes being stuffed with unnecessary things. Why not let our loved ones decide what they’d like best, by offering them a gift card valid to purchase eco-friendly, useful products from a local business who cares for the planet, not only their wallets?
2. PLANT A TREE
Global deforestation and climate change are a serious threat to our planet. Only this year the world was finally made aware of the barbaric unregulated destruction of the Amazon rainforest, our planet’s lung. Tackling this problem is not easy, but we can all play an important role in restoring forests around the world and greening the planet by extending forest acreage. So why not plant a tree in honour of your loved ones this Christmas? A tree is not only a wonderful living being but it will live for a very long time, making it a truly long-lasting, precious gift!
3. GIFT A SAFETY RAZOR, PERFECT FOR HIM AND HER!
It is estimated that about 2 billion disposable razors are thrown out every year. And if you are getting a new razor once every 2-4 weeks, you could be contributing to adding over 100 razors and/or blades to that pile. This is why safety razors are such an easy yet incredibly powerful eco-friendly product. You buy them once and with some care and affection, they will last a very long time, and all you will need to change are the stainless steel blades, which can be widely recycled everywhere across the country! Plus, it’s the perfect gender neutral present that is perfect for both men and women!
4. REUSABLE MAKE-UP PADS
We as a society have finally started talking about how damaging single-use plastic is, and how it doesn't make any sense to use it once and bin it.
However, cotton too is a crop that needs a lot of water to grow, so why throw it away after just one use? Say no to disposable cotton pads and switch to washable, reusable ones, they will last forever! There are different types available, the most popular ones and easier to wash are the ones made 100% with cotton, and those who come with a mix of bamboo fibre and cotton. Choose your favourite ones here!
5. GIFT EXPERIENCES INSTEAD OF THINGS
One of the best presents you can give a loved one is probably your personal time invested in the relationship. No matter if with your other half, your children, siblings or parents, nothing makes people who love you happier than being able to spend time with you. So why not choose to gift them a shared experience this Christmas? Some of the best gifts I received were a day trip organised by one of my best friends and a theatre ticket and dinner together with my sister.
Other great ideas could be a cooking class, a spa day together or even a trip somewhere special if money allows. Remember, memories last forever, things don’t!
6. PRE-MADE ECO-GIFT SETS
Are you one of the busy types who never manages to get any presents done early and ends up last minute to buy something for family and friends, but at the same time doesn’t want to get useless and wasteful things? Well, perhaps the easiest answer is to choose from an already made eco-gift set.
The difference between this type of present and others available on big shipping malls is that you will end up supporting small, family-run local businesses who follow sustainable and environmentally friendly business practises, as well as purchasing products that are not only eco-friendly and low waste, but also really unique, beautiful and specials!
From beauty eco-products to kitchen sets, to bamboo toothbrushes bundles, the choice is not only wide but also so so pretty!
Check your last-minute gift-sets here.
7. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
When you think about it, a plastic bottled drink has an average lifespan of just a few hours, sometimes minutes when you are really thirsty. But it takes about 450 YEARS for that same bottle to biodegrade! It just doesn't make any sense!
Whenever you want to encourage a loved one to be more eco-friendly, or support an eco-warrior friend on their sustainable journey, a reusable water bottle is a fantastic eco-friendly addition to any personal essential. It’s also great to carry around when travelling or going to the gym, and we personally love this style made with stainless steel and bamboo cap, designed with a sturdy D-shaped cap, for an even easier grip.
8. REUSABLE ECO-FRIENDLY SANITARY PRODUCTS
An average woman usually uses around 200kg of disposable sanitary pads, tampons and applicators during her menstruating life, which usually ends up either in landfills or flushed down the toilet and into the marine world. Why not gift your eco-savvy girlfriends the best alternatives to reduce period-related contamination?
Choose from a set of reusable, re-washable sanitary towels available in 2 sizes (to match period flow) or a reusable food-graded silicone menstrual cup. Let’s save the planet every single month!
9. GIFT AUDIO-BOOKS AND CUT DOWN ON PAPER!
I am a big fan of books, reading has always been a favourite thing for me to do before going to be, on a lazy Sunday afternoon or when on holiday. However, since becoming a mum, my free time and especially what we call “me-time” has definitely taken a hit and sitting down with a volume in my hand seems like a rare luxury nowadays. But it’s not only parents that are missing out, but people in general are busier and busier with work and always on the go and sometimes carrying printed books is not the most convenient thing of all. Plus, from an environmental point of view, printed books do need a lot of trees to be cut, while there is a much greener alternative which is also the perfect solution for busy people who need to multitasks: audiobooks!
You can still get your dose of knowledge and entertainment while you cook, drive your car or even go for a walk or a job. And no trees cut for this great gift idea!
10. ECO-FRIENDLY STARTER KIT ESSENTIALS
Do you have a friend you’d like to help start their eco-friendly journey with? Or a family member who’s shown an interest in reducing their plastic consumption in the new year?
From beeswax wraps to plastic-free toothpaste, naturally compostable kitchen brushes and eco-friendly soaps and shampoos, as well as reusable products for the kitchen and the bathroom, help someone who’s special discover how easy it is to ditch single-use plastic and start doing their bit for the planet!
Don’t let last minute habits stop you from making better choices and choosing more sustainable options, even for this festive season.
Happy eco-friendly Christmas everyone!