The title of this post itself seems to be an oxymoron, as Christmas time is the most wasteful time of the year. Whether its food, presents, wrapping paper or trees, people seem to be particularily willing to throw things out while they are being merry. I decided to put together a list of presents that I could think of that would both eliminate plastic while still making people feel good this holiday season.
Why Zero Waste?
An estimated 25 million tons of waste is produced, on top of the normal amount, every season. This includes 4,500 tonnes of tinfoil and enough wrapping paper to go around the earth 9 times! Can you imagine that? 40,000km x 9 of single use, wrapping paper, just to make your gifts under the tree a bit more colourful. I have discussed my issues with plastic many a times, and if you are curious more about that just click here. As a diving instructor, seeing the amount of waste underwater has really kicked me into gear to do something. So lets start by giving the gift of a zero waste christmas!
Zero Waste Christmas Presents
For your family
I always struggle buying Gifts for my family, but I have found that they most appreciate anything that I have put in the time and effort to make.
- Personalised Photo Calendar
While this is not neccesarily Zero Waste, it is a must in many people’s homes, so why not make your own through an organization like Vistaprint . My mother has one hanging in her kitchen all year, and has photos of me printed out to be able to frame once the year is done! As they say : two birds, one stone.
- Zero Waste Beauty Australia
If you live in Australia, I would highlyyy recommend getting someone a gift from this wonderful little business. Zero Waste Beauty Australia has a whole range of beauty products that I had the wonderful opportunity to review a few months ago, check that out here. Their cinnamon sugar scrub is honestly heaven.
- Ticket to an event
It might seem cliche to say : but your family probably just wants to spend time with you. Organize a trip for your whole family to get together and go, whether this is a museum, movie, theatre, botanical garden, music festival, food festival etc. Check what is happening in your city for ideas.
Plants are always a great gift : instead of buying cut flowers, buy your mother an orchid. Spending time with your hands in the soil improves anyones day, just like smelling and seeing beautiful flowers.
- Homemade candels
Again, this is the type of produce you can find at a market and an excellent way to support small businesses. Candels are both practical incase a powercut, but also add to a beautiful atmosphere.
- Baked goods
Who could turn down freshly made, home made muffins or cake? If unsure of what to make, I have plenty of super simply, vegan recipes you can check out here. Such as these avocado, black bean brownies.
- Spa Day
Take your mum or sister to a spa day, again its spending quality time together, while pampering them. Spa days can include hot thermal baths, massages or even seaweed wraps.
- A Restaurant
Write a little ‘coupon’ which they can redeem any time of the year for you to take them to a restaurant.
- Gift Cards
If you’re unsure of what to get, sometimes gift cards aren’t the worst idea. In certain places you can gift money in grocery stores helping a younger siblings with their groceries can definitely be appreciated.
I have found, that over the years many more of my friends have taken up a nomadic lifestyle. This means whatever I got them, would eventually end up in some box in storage somewhere. So why not get them a few things that you KNOW they need and will use. Or atleast, it can get them thinking about living a more Zero Waste Travel life.
- Water Bottle
This is step one of just about any zero waste, or low waste lifestyle. Quit those single use plastic bottles. Getting them one with a filter could also prove handy to keep them healthy while abroad.
- ZW travel utensils
Having your own fork, knife and spoon is always handy while on the road. Etsy has an amazing range of these products, which also means you’re supporting small businesses. Check out MakeLifeGreen’s gorgeous designs! They also include a handy reusable straw and clear. Or these cute airplane ones by ReelRed.
There has probably not been anything I have spent more time.. (or money?) on this year, and thats audiobooks. Audible is one of my favourite apps of all times and allows me to listen to books while I drive, work on the farm or workout all while filling my head with stories or knowledge. Some of my favourite books include :
Non Fiction :
One of the most inspirational books I have ever read, Elon takes lifes opportunities and turns them into something extroirdinary. Cannot reccomend this book enough for anyone looking to gain some inspiration and motivation!
As a physicist, nothing quite excites me as other physicists tackling somewhat futuristic, scifi topics. In this book he discusses where technology will take us along with our minds. The levels of conciousness that exist, how connected we are and how biology, physics and imagination are all intrinsically linked.
- Win Friends & Influence People and Men are from Mars – Dale Carnegie
A century old book, with principles that still apply today. Learn how to communicate with people better, avoid arguments and genuinely become a well rounded human being.
If you have ever had trouble in relationships and do not know why : this book is for you. An interesting perspective on how despite how different men and women are, we should celebrate these differences.
- Pillars of The Earth – Ken Follet
One of my all time favourite books, set in medieval england following generations of characters around building a cathedral. This book will have you captivated with historical accuracies, and all of a sudden you will know a lot more about cathedral architecture than you would have ever expected.
- Rita Hayworth and The Shawsank Redeptiom – Stephen King
I know what you’ll say : it’s already a movie!! Yes, while the movie is fantastic, Stephen King (Who is absolutely my favourite author) captivates you within the first few pages. A relatively short book by his measures (just 4h listening time), it tells the well known story with exquisite detail.
- The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
I have never read a book from the perspective of an animal until this one, and it was incredible. It’s happy, its heartbreaking but overall its a story all of us can relate to. The love we experience for our pets, and the love they give us right back. Just check out the stories of my foster cats or puppies!
Then ofcourse the classics : Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones series, Harry Potter or the Red Rising Trilogy. (As you can see I am a big fan of fantasy.)
But honestly. why not start a subscribtion for your friends or family with audible, where they can pick one new book to listen to every month? There even is a 30 day trial.
Supporting Worthy Causes
A few other really great gifts include giving to others. Donate to some worthwhile causes on their behalf, some of my favourite this year include :
These guys plant one tree for every dollar donated to them. You can pick what region of the world you wish to fund, and you get a wonderful little gift certificate with the number of trees you have helped plant! Trees are absolutely vital to our ecosystems, as I have been learning while on Mazi Farm.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” Chinese Proverb
As many of you know, the ocean is the most important thing to me. My affair with it started many years ago when I was 12, and since then diving has taken over much of my thoughts. Diving is life, and everything else is just a surface interval. These guys are trying to protect the world’s reefs.
Just like any apex predator, sharks are vital in our ecosystems and currently we are completely destroying them. Every year, over 100 million sharks are killed by humans while there is an average of six shark attacks a year. Because of the bad rep they have gained through JAWS, the supposed delicacy of their shark fin soup and sports fishing, we are looking at a world without sharks very soon. An ocean without sharks will slowly die, and take us along with it. As Captain Paul Watson often says
“If the Oceans die, we die.”
Of course Sea Shepherd is another fantastic organization, quite extreme in their way of dealing with people. However, their message of saving our oceans is heard loud and clear, through their multimillion dollar ships and world wide missions. It never hurts to buy a cool t shirt, all sourced sustainably.
Now that we have dealth with the contents of your presents, what about the presentation? You can’t simply just throw them under your Christmas tree.. Wait, are Christmas trees ever zero waste??
Each year, just the USA, there are somwehere between 25-30 million Christmas trees sold, and therefore thrown out every year. My mother last year, decided to break the cycle by purchasing a plastic tree : which yes goes against my ideas of plastic, on which I even have a guide for elimitinating plastic in your life, it does mean we will not be throwing out a tree yearly. In previous years we simply cut a branch from our giant pines outside, or bought a live tree. (Those very often died).
Some other, (and probably better), options are :
Why not make it a DIY Project? I will be attempting this later on in the month.
Lastly, what about the wrapping paper? The wrapping paper which can encircle our earth by the equator nine times. That makes our presents look nice for one day and then off it goes to a landfill?
Get creative! Some alternatives are
- Old used paper
- Reusable gift bags
The options are endless! So why not get out there and give the biggest gift of them all, a kinder and less resource taxing christmas for our earth! Happy first of december!