You know only too well that overconsumption is an ecological catastrophe! So this year, when it comes to treating your loved ones, perhaps you’ve decided to do so differently? Yet it’s not always easy to find good ideas for eco-friendly gifts for everyone…
Follow our eco-friendly Christmas guide with dozens of ideas that don’t harm the planet!
Why opt for eco-friendly gifts?
Taking the decision to give gifts that are not polluting and don’t contribute to the destruction of the planet makes a strong statement. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment, pass on your values, start a conversation and share your knowledge about ecology. The added bonus: it’s economical too! We tend to think that a gift has to be expensive, new or straight out of a well-known shop to please its recipient. And the ecological situation that we find ourselves in sometimes echoes that of our finances, which might be in a sorry state too. But times are changing. You might prefer to give a homemade or second-hand gift and use the money saved to give the gift of quality time. The important thing is being together! Don’t forget to wrap up these gifts the zero waste or zero plastic way, with materials which are also eco-friendly!
The various types of eco-friendly gift:
– A handmade gift to promote upcycling: a great opportunity to make something with your own fair hands, while re-using or converting materials
– A gift that’s zero plastic to safeguard the sea: to prevent plastic and microplastic from ending up in a less-than-scrupulous recycling setup or in the natural environment, starting with the sea
– A zero waste gift to… Cut down on waste! It’s all packaging that society won’t have deal with, and it saves money and materials accordingly
– A second-hand gift to reduce the carbon footprint: the circular economy makes it possible to bypass the manufacture of new items, which is always polluting somewhere along the line.
– A “good times” gift (a culinary, sport, wellness or leisure activity voucher) to avoid encouraging the accumulation of items and promote sobriety in our homes.
Experiential gifts are about spending quality time together, and place the emphasis on bonding. This is something that ecology needs too, to make progress. All without (or almost without) generating pollution or using up resources.
Eco-friendly gift ideas for Christmas
For stressed-out people: a massage or treatment at a wellness parlour
Reconnecting with yourself means that you have to get away from the daily grind and allow yourself some time to yourself away from the hustle and bustle. Gifting someone a break for them to get physically pampered and rested is the best way to be sure of giving a gift that contributes towards warming the heart rather than the planet!
For those open to anything: concert, theatre or opera tickets
Giving the gift of making fond memories, either to share by going together or by gifting two tickets to a couple, is something that supports people and artists. It’s also about giving someone a different perspective if you get someone acquainted with a show that they would never have thought to go and see. It’s a way of being open to the world that gets people talking.
For exhausted parents: an evening/night/weekend of babysitting
This is the world’s most zero-waste gift: doing someone a favour! And what a gift! Gifting someone an evening with everything taken care of, and the peace of mind that comes with it if someone is there to mind the children. Being able to really enjoy spending quality time together!
For a friend: dinner out for the two of you
Again, this is about gifting quality time, an evening to talk, chat, and enjoy a meal together. It’s a valuable way of maintaining ties when you no longer take the time to see each other, and instead communicate remotely with messages back and forth! Go for a vegetarian restaurant, since meat production is responsible for a great many problems. This is your opportunity to try out a good veggie eatery!
For foodies: high-end condiments
We often hesitate to give such products as gifts: truffle oil, flavoured mustard or pickles. They come in glass jars, are something that people enjoy and allow them to try out new flavours. Another idea: organic cake mix (like those available from Marlette) to make lovely, organic, healthy cakes!
For the houseproud: home textiles
Fine fabrics, design and production that are local or at least take place on the continent of sale, quality detailing… That is what’s offered by a great many discreet brands of cloths, sheets or towels and attractive bath robes made from natural fabrics like linen or organic cotton. Given as a gift that will last, they will delight those who like to give their home a little extra character without resorting to goods shipped over from the other side of the world.
A workshop to indulge in something that they are passionate about These days you can find workshops or introductory courses for absolutely any possible pursuit: cooking, painting, wine tasting, perfume design, singing or jewellery-making! This is perfect as a gift from several people clubbing together if it comes at a high price. Gifting someone a course to get back into something, or to allow themselves to explore something that they are passionate about at long last, is a memorable gift that brings much joy.
For those keen on artisan pieces: an original creation
Christmas is the perfect time to keep artists and artisans busy: you gift something that’s more than just an attractive item. If you seek out designers’ short production runs, you’re sure to rein in pollution related to freight transport (or production, for artisan pieces). An item like a terracotta or ceramic vase or plate crafted by hand in a family workshop, a painting, a statuette or even an attractive wooden kitchen utensil… Those from small workshops are little gems! And the same goes for fashion accessories!
For parents or grandparents: framed family photos
Because we share our photos electronically so much, we forget to get them printed! But looking at them on the computer or phone is tedious. Taking the time to get them printed and framed, or compile a photobook, is sure to make a touching gift!
For eco-friendly friends: a handmade gift
It’s not always easy to give a homemade gift, which may be seen as cop-out by those who are not on board. But conversely, for those of your nearest and dearest who share your ethical values, a homemade candle, a terracotta item, a wooden frame decorated with shells or a plant in a pot that you decorated yourself can be all the more meaningful. You can get inspiration from the array of tutorials available on the Internet.
For fashionistas: an attractive second-hand number or vintage piece of jewellery
Who says second hand equals dowdy? You can find second-hand clothes that are worth a lot of money, and some are even sought after and more expensive than today’s equivalents. You can hit on amazing finds in thrift shops, which are now online! For a more modern style, make a gift of a designer piece from a short production run, or an environmentally-responsible consignment made from recycled fabric for example. A great many labels offer mini collections just so that they can keep their production clean. As for jewellery, again, it’s easy to find an attractive gift, since a great many outlets offer older or more contemporary second-hand goods, not to mention second-hand sale sites which also offer luxury and big-brand items.
For beautistas: zero-waste beauty products
Solid beauty products are a perfect eco-friendly Christmas gift idea, with high-quality and/or organic ones often being more expensive than the others. They are feelgood products, which can easily be a gateway to new habits. These days you can find zero-waste versions of almost anything, such as divine-smelling soap sold by weight, shampoo, conditioner and plant-based massage bars made from shea butter or cocoa butter.
Another idea: an essential oils kit to introduce the recipient to organic/clean beauty products which are environmentally responsible and made in the country of sale (in our case France).
For children: wooden, cardboard or second-hand toys
A racing car, a stool or an old-school game like snakes and ladders, dominoes or checkers always goes down well. And you don’t have go to toy retail chain stores or buy anything plastic. Also, don’t forget board games (which are almost 100% cardboard), card games and of course books. All of which you can easily find new (or as new) on Vinted, the must-have app for buying second hand.
For keen gardeners: wooden items, plants, flowers in a planter, trees
Opt for a wooden item like a birdhouse, insect farm or wind chime. Give something zen and natural as a gift! In the same vein, you can make a gift of a tree or a attractive plant grown locally if possible, either for repotting or in an attractive pot.
For altruistic types: an ethically-sound gift
Lastly, here’s the ultimate eco-friendly experiential gift: a gift that you give directly to the planet! Make a gift of a tree planted in someone’s name, membership of an association, an item made with solidarity in mind or a donation to support a project. For those who, when asked, never want anything for Christmas!
For anyone: a book on ecology!
A book is a great idea, especially if its pages come from sustainably-managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which vouches for responsible sourcing, and are produced by Imprim’vert-certified printing presses! It’s the case – for example – of my own book Dis, c’est vrai qu’on peut soigner la Terre ? (available in French only). It is aimed at breaking down, in simple terms, all the aspects of all the challenges facing ecology today for the wider public. The issues addressed range from the climate to biodiversity and pollution – as related to consumer behaviour, of course. This is a comprehensive 360-degree view, in the form of questions with solutions to be implemented and answers designed to allow adults to explain it all to children.
…Or a zero-waste item
To help your nearest and dearest to change their habits, and therefore surreptitiously have an effect on their ecological footprint, there’s nothing like kitting them out yourself. On the list of items (to be picked up in a specialist shop), you’ll find a re-usable water bottle to avoid the proliferation of plastic water bottles, bee wrap sheets to take the place of cling film, wooden kitchen utensils, a pack of washable cleansing pads, jars, etc.
Good or bad ideas?
Giving a gift of a nice cup of tea: yes, if it’s organic
Tea cultivation requires the use of hundreds of pesticides and chemicals which cause serious harm to biodiversity… The problem is that the leaves do not get washed at any point. You brew them just as they come, chemical residues and all! To avoid ingesting those, it’s better to opt for organic tea. Here in France, Ecocert certification imposes for example a bi-annual inspection of each production step, from harvesting through to the factory. In addition, producers take it upon themselves to have pesticide analyses run to guarantee that the highest standards of quality and innocuity are met.
A bottle of wine: yes, but a really good one
Conventional winemaking is one of the most polluting trades in agriculture. This is due to the use (often preventative use, too) of pesticides. This can even pose a health risk for the populations living in winegrowing areas. As for organic wine, the process uses fewer pesticides, but uses copper instead. This is natural in its initial state, but used in the form of lime-based “Bordeaux sludge”. It then becomes harmful to soil. Since copper is very soluble, if it rains it has to be spread again… So save it for the really good stuff!
So there you have lots of clever ideas for eco-friendly gifts which will have minimal impact on the environment, while placing the focus on bonding between people and know-how. Merry Christmas!