It’s that time of the year where everyone rushes to the shops to buy everyone they know a gift; it’s Christmas! Everyone starts to reluctantly slump through high street shops and big retail outlets, fighting the crowds for overpriced gifts that nobody wants. It’s not pleasant…
Not only is the entire act of Christmas shopping quite frankly a little traumatising, there’s not much reward. A lot of gifts end up in landfill or are re-gifted because they are unwanted. In fact, we spend around £2 billion on unwanted gifts in the UK alone!
What if I told you it didn’t have to be this way? That you didn’t have to compete with the world to spend way too much money on a gift that’ll end up in the rubbish? Well, it doesn’t! We’re going to tell you the best way to be kind to the planet, your pocket, and the recipients of your gifts!
The truth behind Christmas presents
Before we get into all of that though, we need to talk about why we need to rethink our usual gift-buying habits.
23 million unwanted presents end up in landfill every year in the UK alone. These gifts are full of harmful chemicals and single use plastics that will never decompose and will leave a mark on our planet forever. Other than just being pits of rubbish that will exist for eternity, landfills are actively destroying the climate. They displace native species and use land that could be used for anything else, the USA alone has around 1.8 million acres of land dedicated to landfill. As well as this, they primarily release methane and also some carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Although carbon dioxide is the most commonly named greenhouse gas, methane is much much worse. It is 84 times more effective at absorbing the sun's heat, thus being 84 times more effective than CO2 at heating up the atmosphere.
The negative effects don’t stop there! Landfills actually release something called leachate when the pipes leak. Leachate is a waste liquid produced in landfills that contains high levels of ammonia. When this gets into the surrounding environment and water sources, it can be devastating. Ammonia is highly toxic to animals and creates dead zones in the area, meaning that wildlife will suffocate due to the lack of oxygen. Not great.
Other than heading straight to landfill, so many gifts are also returned, regifted, and donated. These options are much better for the planet, but still wildly undesirable. Around 23% of unwanted gifts in the UK are regifted, 22% are donated, and 11% are sold. So, how can we give more meaningful gifts that people actually like and want to keep?
Credit: Daily Record
Want to know how you can be more eco-friendly this Christmas? Read our 7 Tips for a More Sustainable Christmas article for tips and tricks!
What are your options?
You’re probably at even more of a loss for what to buy for Christmas if you’ve made it this far, but don’t worry! We’ve got the solutions. Below are a list of ideas and alternatives to wasteful gifts that should impress the gift recipient!
Instead of shopping on Amazon, or at retail stores, why not opt to shop at eco friendly places? Websites like Protect the Planet, Ethical Superstore, and Etsy are a great place to find unique gifts that are kind to the planet. There are so many types of gifts available too! From clothes to homewear to jewelry, you’re bound to find the perfect gift that nobody would ever want to get rid of!
This is a bit of a taboo option for a lot of people. Many of us think that secondhand gifts aren’t thoughtful, low quality, and are just bought by people who want to be cheap, but that’s not the case! Charity shops have quality control that doesn’t allow damaged goods to be put on the shop floor, so everything you see in the shop is of a great standard and worthy to be someone's gift! You can also buy second hand items on places like eBay, Depop, and Vinted.
Looking to buy a Christmas tree but you’re not sure what type is best for the planet? We’ve got you covered! For all the information you need about Christmas trees, read our Christmas tree article.
Perhaps you don’t want to buy something second hand but you still want to stay away from newly manufactured things? Then why not try buying gifts that are made from recycled materials? Ornaments made from glass jars, and homewares from plastic bottles, the list is endless! You can find lots of these things from places like Etsy.
Or alternatively, you could make your own gift! There are lots of DIY projects you can do with the things laying around your house. You could make things like ornaments, rugs, candles, photo frames, jewelry and so much more! This is a great gift to give anyone because it’s so personal. It’s so much less likely to end up in landfill if it’s personal and homemade - and even if it does, it would’ve anyway!
Gifts from companies that care about the planet
Here at Gone West, we love to work with eco-minded businesses to help them offset their emissions. We have a great assortment of partners that produce the perfect Christmas gifts all while caring about the planet!
Hammer beer is an Italian based brewery which embodies the avant-garde frontier of an evolution, they have several unique beer styles, and are renowned for their innovative products. They even have a beer line which helps the planet, as every beer sold they plant a tree with us! Be sure to check out their website and products here.
A little more of an unconventional gift, but if you know someone who is moving, wants to redecorate, or just loves modern spaces, LOFT is perfect for them! They are an interior design company that puts the people first when designing. They have decorated so many beautiful spaces and, best of all, they really care about the planet!
Know someone who’s vegan and wants to get fit in the new year? Or maybe just really loves eating well and has an interest in nutrition? Well, a gift from MyVegan is perfect for you! MyVegan is a UK plant-based vegan nutrition and wellbeing brand that cares about the planet. They are the world’s first plastic neutral sports brand . As well as that, they offset all of their carbon emissions!
Barba 'N' Juice is a Lifestyle Company that aims to bring health benefits derived from completely natural elements in a ready to drink product.
They love nature and want to offer ‘Juicers’ products that are good for the body, mind and the planet! The product is based on their love and respect for the planet, as they firmly believe that a healthy planet can give us all the energy we need to improve ourselves as individuals and support us as a collective.
Kip & Nook hosts the ultimate getaway with its collection of unique and quirky places to stay in the stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire countryside. These bespoke locations, varying from barns to containers, offer the most amazing places for a perfect staycation in the UK.
In addition to all this, Kip & Nook have a strong conservation ethic behind their business too. They plant a tree with us for every one of their bookings. We've already planted 2,700 trees on their land surrounding the cabin. Go get booking!
Read about more of our lovely partners here in our National Small Business Week Blog.
Give a gift of a tree
The last idea on this is our favourite, but we’re a little biased! Plant a tree with Gone West this Christmas to do the most for the planet and the people you care about! There’s nothing more thoughtful than planting a tree that’s going to help the world we live in to thrive! When you give a gift of a tree with us, we have three options; 1 tree, 2 trees, or 4 trees. When you plant one tree, you get a certificate of reforestation that you can print. Two or four trees get you the certificate as well as monthly updates from our planting sites.
Give a gift of a tree here!
Whatever gift you end up buying for those you care about, make sure you’re always thinking about the planet too. Most of the time, those things go hand in hand! We need to be more responsible now, we know better than to buy things from big corporations that pollute the planet, underpay staff, and produce low quality items. The planet needs us, it needs you!
That’s all for now. I hope you have enjoyed reading our blog. Join the sustainable revolution to help save our natural world and our future by following us on Instagram and by subscribing to our monthly newsletter for updates.