The Green List Guide to Giving Green

Rose Mary Petrass

Eco friendly gift

With Christmas coming around the corner, it’s predicted that Australians will spend a whopping $11 billion on Christmas presents this year. And with around half coming from online shopping, that’s a heck of a lot of stuff. 

New research from Gumtree has revealed that we spent an estimated $574 million on gifts last year. Aussies received more than 18.7 million unwanted gifts – that’s more than half the country.

Unfortunately, that also means that 1.6 million of us threw our unwanted gifts in the bin, a significant proportion of which probably ended up in landfill.

No one wants to feel like their gift-giving is costing the earth. So, here is a curated guide to giving green – so that your gift giving doesn’t need to cost the earth. 

Go second-hand shopping. Thrift Shop Secondhand clothes

So many gems can be found hiding in thrift stores. From designer clothes to glass vases to toys and furniture, basically any gift can be found within these treasure troves. Buying from a second hand store means that you are buying something that would normally be thrown away – but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad quality. Also, most second hand shops donate the proceeds to a good cause. 

Don’t use wrapping paper to wrap your gifts. 

Wrapping paper may be pretty, but did you know that shiny or metallic wrapping paper is actually laminated and cannot be recycled? Use tissue paper, an old magazine, or buy a colourful scarf to wrap the gift in – which also doubles as a pretty gift in itself. Instead of using sticky tape, use twine to keep tissue paper in place, or tie the scarf tightly to create a parcel. 

Gift a plant. 

Everyone loves a houseplant. You could give them some seeds and soil, or pick up a plant from your local nursery. Plants not only filter carbon dioxide, create a habitat for little creatures, and clean the air, they also have been found to boost the mood and alleviate anxiety and depression. And even for the least green-thumbed among us, there’s always an easy-to-care-for option – like a hardy cactus or succulent.

Let them choose their gift.

Gift a voucher or some cash, so that they can choose what they get. It could be to a clothing brand, a restaurant, or an event pass to a movie theatre. 

Choose sustainably.

Just because you’re gifting green this Christmas doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality and style. This Good Gift Creator can help you choose a “sustainable and socially-conscious” gift from a start-up businesses.

Gift an experience. gift envelope

Is your loved one always talking about how much they want to learn to salsa dance or take up pottery classes? Gift them a specific class, or choose a service like Class Pass which allows them to choose which classes they attend within a set period of time. 

Donate to a charity on their behalf.

The gift for someone who doesn’t want anything: give to a cause that you know they care about. Want the biggest bang for your buck? Giving Green has released a list of the top three charities working the hardest to accelerate climate action and make the greatest impact. If you want your donation to go the farthest, donate to one of the following: 

  1. Beyond Zero Emissions is an independent think-tank helping emissions-intensive industries and regional communities work towards net zero.
  2. Farmers for Climate Action helps farmers lead climate solutions on-farm.
  3. Original Power builds skills and capacity of Australia’s Indigenous communities to resist fossil fuel developments and support a transition to renewables.

Want more gift ideas? 

10 gift ideas that won’t cost the earth