The festive season is often associated with excess. Too much food, drink, spending – you name it we tend to go to the max. Probably why it’s also referred to as the silly season. If you are trying to reduce on waste and go the eco-friendly root, this can be an incredibly challenging time.

Shops and online marketing are already gearing up and getting us into the mood. Even with the many restrictions we are facing this year, it seems the looming holidays aren’t going to let up.  

However, this is a year like no other, as citizens of the planet we are collectively faced with the need for change and to rethink the old ways. This can be a little stressful if you don’t know where to start. 

To ease the stress, and make the festive season fun, here are some eco-friendly, low-waste, low-cost gift ideas for you to spoil your loved ones with.

There are some links to local providers here in South Africa, but there are bound to be like minded businesses in your area.

1. Teacher Gifts

This has been an exceptional year for teachers worldwide and a year end gift is not only a great idea, but an opportunity to express our gratitude. But, as much as they appreciate it, I’m pretty sure they have rooms filled with mugs, pens, books etc. labelled “Best Teacher”.

Why not consider giving them an herb plant for their windowsill. Rosemary and Basil are hardy plants and easy to grow, not to mention great additions to many recipes.  

If you are wanting some of these edible gifts and all the things that go with it check out:

2. Co-worker Gifts

I have yet to know of someone who gets excited about year-end co-worker gifts. You usually have a limited budget and zero idea about the person you must gift.  But these are exciting times and there are things happening in the world that affect everyone. Like reducing the number of plastic packets in the world.  

Reusable shopping bags are anything but boring. You can get highly creative here and if you are handy with a crochet needle or sewing machine you can go wild. Flamboyant Flamingos on one, motorcycles on another, prickly pears for Sue in accounting – hehehe. 

Hop on over to these stores for not just re-usable shoppers, but a shop full of plastic free, earth friendly goodies.

3. Foodie Gifts 

I know, this is where the herbs are supposed to go – right?  

People who love being in the kitchen and are trying to go low waste eco-friendly will tell you, there is a lot of waste and non-eco-ness that can happen in the kitchen. A big one is buying veggies from chain stores. The way some of these crops are grown are simply not sustainable and are doing serious damage to the environment. Added to that the amount of ‘ugly’ produce that gets dumped even though there is nothing wrong with it, is criminal. 

With that in mind, consider gifting a week/month supply of organic veggies from your local co-op or farm to table supplier. If you aren’t doing this for yourself already, you may be surprised at how reasonable the pricing is and how amazing it is to get fresh, organic veggies delivered to your doorstep with no unnecessary plastic or wrapping – Priceless! 

Our friends  Real Food Connection and Fresh Box have some awesome deals.

FRESH BOX have gone the extra step and built in food donations into their offering. For every fresh box you purchase you are helping feed an underprivileged child.  

4. Kids Gifts 

Kids grow up so quickly and their tastes change just as fast. Before you spring for the latest and greatest, see if there are moms in the area that are keen to do a swap. Most kids have an abundance of toys that have hardly been used or never for that matter. They end up just lying at the back of the cupboard. A duplicate tea set, tractor, puzzle etc.  

There are also specialty stores that cater for plastic free toys that can be kept as family heirlooms. 

Get thrifty and start looking around for sturdy, timeless gifts that your kids will appreciate and cherish, even when they’re adults.

These toy stores have no shortage of awesome gifts.

5. Gifts for Him 

Gone are the boring old days of giving soap-on-a-rope. Whether he shaves every day or is looking after a well-manicured beard there are stunning options available for the men in your life.

Shop personal care essentials and accessories that won’t break the bank. Metal razor kits are not only trendy, but they also do away with disposable plastic razors, and we’re all about low-waste gifts that you can use for years and years.

For all of your plastic-free personal grooming needs, check out:

6. Gifts for Her 

If the lady in your life is an eco-warrior then you have no end of gifts you can get her. Why not purchase an online course she can access at any time. Courses that were previously only available in person and in other countries are now moving online at a rapid pace.  

My friend Christina over at Natural Nerd has an amazing soap making course that you simply cannot miss out on.

 7. The Zero Waste Eco Warrior Starter Pack 

Many people simply aren’t aware of what’s available to them. They might be thinking of getting started with less plastic but aren’t sure how to go about it. Why not put together a pack of eco essentials that they might be hesitant to try or don’t even know exist. This may not seem like a glamorous gift, but it is always fun to try new things. 

Consider a kit with: 

  • Bamboo toothbrush (bamboo sourced from sustainable crops and not packaged in a plastic bubble pack) 
  • Toothpaste pellets (no plastic tubes, just chew the pellet, wet your toothbrush and brush) 
  • Bar soap (no plastic bottles, no plastic wrappers, and no strange ingredients)  
  • Soap bag (to collect all the left-over soap bits and use them to the very end – no waste!) 
  • Eco-Earbuds (made from renewable bamboo & cotton crops) 
  • Essential Oil blend (used instead of perfume or for health benefits) 
  • Face cloth (made from organic & sustainable cotton) 

To find your perfect comb0 try any of these stores:

8. Gifts for clients 

Before rushing off to purchase gimmicky gifts for you clients, consider donating to charities on their behalf and sending them a heartfelt card or email telling them about the charity and your decision. Or give them a list of charities they can choose from and you make the donation on their behalf. 

The world has seen fires, floods, earthquakes and pandemics in unprecedented levels over the past few years. 

There is undoubtedly a need near you or somewhere in the world. 

Here is a list of charity organization in South Africa that you can choose from:

9. Gifts for the person that has everything 

We all have someone like this in our lives. They have everything they need or want and aren’t really keen on getting anything more. In this case you want to be able to give something, but that does not impose or clutter.  

Something edible is usually a good bet. They can either enjoy it themselves or share with their loved ones. You could bake something or approach an artisanal supplier in your area. Homemade breads, condiments or desserts are so much better than store bought. 

Or you could try almond butter toffee’s! 

 10. Gifts for Fur Babies 

Just like their human moms and dads our pets are feeling the effect of our environmental woes. More than ever our pets are having to deal with diabetes, cancerobesity and skin conditions, just to name a few. 

Before buying that cute plastic chew toy or stocking up on plastic poop bags. There are now a host of environmentally friendly, compostable options. There are also many people starting to make healthy wholesome snacks for your favorite animal. 

Let’s Wrap It All Up

We cannot talk about gifts and not talk about the wrapping. Sometimes an option is staring you in the face like a beautifully illustrated dishcloth (see @terryangelosartor a t-shirt, but sometimes we need a little inspiration. Pinterest is probably the best place to go for this. I suggest typing in DIY Eco Friendly Gift Wrap, I also suggest you have enough food and water near by because this is a rabbit hole like no other. You could be lost for days!

Also consider telling the person receiving the gift that your purpose is all about avoiding waste and adding value. Let them know that if the gift is something they feel they wont use, they are welcome to pass it on to someone who will – no hard feelings.

The takeaway is this – yes the gifts may not be flashy and ‘trendy’ but they come from the heart and count. They count because they do no harm, they come from the heart and have longevity.

I wish you all a blessed festive period, no matter how you choose to celebrate it.

You may have noticed a logo in the footer of my webpage saying ‘The Ethical Move” and wondered what it’s all about. Well, instead of you guessing, I thought I should take some time and tell you a little about it, as it is very important to me.

In their own words The Ethical Move believe that:

“how we sell matters.”

The Ethical Move is a group of people taking the first step in moving away from the manipulative selling techniques being used on us in the digital world. As members we pledge to not use certain selling and marketing techniques or to use them responsibly. The pledge focuses on 7 primary elements. The folks at The Ethical Move have a pledge page where they explain each element really well: The Pledge.

But here is a summary in my own words…

1. Charm Pricing

This is when a seller is trying to make an item seem cheaper by going a single/few digits under the higher amount. A great example is instead of saying something costs $100 they say $97.

As an a member we pledge to not use the number 9 in our pricing.

2. Countdowns

The “Get It Now Before This Deal Expires” Deal. You get so worried you are going to miss out that you rearrange your entire, (sometimes limited), budget to get the deal in time – only to find that it’s still running a week/month later. This in itself is not an unfair practice, but it can be abused by unscrupulous parties to create that ‘knot in the stomach’ feeling of missing out.

Yes there absolutely are instances where an offer is limited. As I prepare my online courses I will also be running them for a limited time each year. Which means, there will be a cut off.

The difference – the cut off is genuine and you will know when and how often the course is run upfront. If you cannot afford it or don’t have time for it now, you can always sign up when it runs again.

3. False Scarcity

This often ties in with No.2 (countdowns) and can get you really anxious. As a solopreneur I honestly can only accommodate so many seats at a live venue or for the online course. I prefer to interact directly with my class and there are limits.

If a course is fully automated, or the offer is electronic, then there is often no need to create this sense of pressure.

4. Lead Magnets

This is a difficult one. The deal is this: I give you something free in exchange for your email address. Without it many businesses would be dead in the water. Email lists are how we grow our client base and keep them informed. So really it isn’t ‘free’ in the true sense of the word.

The problem is when you make  this trade and then get inundated with emails, sales and promotions that may or may not include content you even signed up for.

Not all of us are marketing guru’s and it can be difficult for someone like myself to know how much is enough and to know if we are still adding value – which is our primary intention.

The responsible thing to do is make sure your subscribers knows they can unsubscribe at any point – no hard feelings. Their information is not sold or farmed out for profit and that you stick to what you said you would.

5. Bait and Switch

This one drives me crazy. You get told to take a quiz and you will receive something personalized – or something like that.

But, all you get is sales pitches and buy this to get that nonsense! I would like to think I cannot be caught out with this sort of thing, but (sigh) it still happens.

All I can say to marketers that use this – enough already!!

6. Woke Washing

This one is a particularly nasty element to marketing nowadays. I battled to write this paragraph without ranting. So I decided to just quote directly from The Ethical Move:

Woke washing is the appropriation of ethical and progressive values with the intent to leverage image and increase sales, when behind closed doors, the actions and words don’t match the reality (when a brand donates to BLM while exploiting BIPOC in their supply chain).

– The Ethical Move

As members we pledge to being transparent and honest about our actions and words.

7. Secret Recipe

This is something I often refer to as the Silver Bullet Solution. It happens a lot in the health and wellness industry and can be very frustrating. If you eat this and do that you will get these miraculous results.

I’m not saying some of these ‘secret recipes’ don’t work, what I am saying is that they will not work for everyone. If it did not work for you then it isn’t your fault and there isn’t something wrong with you. Even if a million people had success, they do not live your life, have your DNA or deal with what you deal with. You are unique and not a statistic.

There is also more than one solution to anything and more often than not there is no hack or shortcut.

What do we do about it?

So there you have it. Honestly, there isn’t much you can do other than be aware and educating yourself and your family around these tactics. As a blogger, business owner, entrepreneur or anyone with influence you can perhaps do what I am…

I promise to uphold these values and apply them responsibly. I am grateful to have guidelines like these to work with and truly hope that others will do the same.