Gifts are lovely, aren't they? The tradition and habit of giving to bless and surprise people is wonderful. When we read stories of Christmas in the past, gifts were simple, often hand-made with love. Gifts did not need to be extravagant. Yet, in our consumer culture, we seem to have taken gift-giving to a whole new level. Christmas has become a spending-fest, with people feeling huge pressure to spend beyond their means.
In December 2015, The Telegraph reported "nearly a quarter (23%) of Britons feel under pressure to spend more than they can afford, according to research from the Money Advice Trust's National Debtline. It found shopping bonanzas such as Black Friday and pleasing children were the main causes ... The charity said that last Christmas the number of calls to its National Debtline jumped by 61% after the holiday as households tried to come to grips with their extra borrowing." (Read the full article HERE.)
When we give and receive gifts, how many are bought for the sake of buying and giving 'something', and how many gifts are truly considered and wanted? How many gifts sit unused, or wend their way to charity shops early in the New Year? Many novelty gifts are designed to delight momentarily, but scarcely last even through Christmas Day. How much is simply wasted and thrown away? Think about wrapping paper alone, much of it not being recyclable due to coating and embossing, enough to go around the Equator nine times, according to this article in The Guardian, Dec 2013.
These past few Christmases, we have tried to change the culture of excess gifting in our own household, and have discussed this with our children. We gave our friends and family home-made gifts - or reusable items ... Gingerbread cookies, home-made cosmetics, chocolate truffles, reusable ceramic travel mugs. It is a wonderful opportunity to get creative with your gifting ideas ... Experiences, subscriptions, vouchers for treats can all make wonderful gifts. Check out THIS LIST of 101 Zero Waste gift ideas from Zero Waste Nerd, whose blog is full of excellent zero waste tips and ideas.
You can get creative with your wrapping, too. How about using cloth tied with reusable ribbons or string? You can re-use or make your own gift wrap ... Reusable gift bags can be saved and used again and again.
What zero waste gift would you love for your next birthday? Two special gifts I received this year were a lovely pair of mittens a friend had crocheted for me, and a veg box another friend had delivered to me from The Wonky Veg Company. Also a series of chiropractic treatments I desperately needed, but would not have been able to afford.
Please share your favourite zero waste gift ideas here and help inspire others. Let's reclaim giving from the consumer madness it has become!