Ho ho ho! ‘Tis officially the season of giving and receiving but, without sounding too much like the Grinch, it’s also the season of waste and unwanted gifts. About $400 million’s worth of unwanted gifts are exchanged in Australia alone, to put a figure on it.
While some of these dud prezzies are quietly donated to the charity shop after Christmas Day more than 10 million of ‘em — many made of plastic and other non-biodegradable materials — will end up in landfill where they’ll sit for decades or more.
So, how can we treat our loved ones to some well-deserved goodies yet still treat the planet with a bit of kindness and respect? Look out for products and businesses that are ethical, eco-friendly or sustainable — perhaps a woven tote bag made from straw, a natural renewable material, or a brand that offsets its carbon emissions.
To kickstart your eco-friendly gift list, we’ve done the legwork and compiled a few suggestions covering everyone from beauty-lovers to kids and foodies to your office Secret Santa.
Happy (sustainable) shopping!
These handmade solid perfumes by Viva La Body are chemical-free and made from natural plant based ingredients — and they smell simply delicious.
The entire Ethique range is vegan, palm oil free, ethical, plastic-free and fairly sourced and their Body Sampler is no exception. Comprising a Sweet Orange and Vanilla Créme Bodywash Bar, Lime and Ginger Body Polish and a Pumice, Teatree & Spearmint Bodywash Bar, this mini trio comes pre-wrapped in 100 per cent compostable packaging.
Lux Aestiva uses cold-pressed vegan oils and 100 per cent natural and ethically sourced plant-based ingredients in their products such as their calming and moisturising Prickly Pear Oil. The sweet recycled glass bottle is shipped with minimal packaging and 1 per cent of the brand’s annual turnover is donated to environmental and social causes through 1% for the Planet.
Australian skincare brand Peggy Sue’s Self-Care Trio is ready to pop straight under the tree. It includes a compostable Bath Brew Pocket, an organic cleansing stick and organic Bath & Body Oil.
BJ’s are all about non-daggy PJs and loungewear for men and women that are also ethical, sustainable, skin-friendly and Aussie-made.
These sneakers not only look cool but they’re made of hemp, a natural, renewable fibre that grows very quickly and requires minimal water.
Every purchase from Taronga Zoo’s Beads For Wildlife range provides a woman in Northern Kenya with a reliable income and benefits the incredible local wildlife.
Dutch company The Ocean Cleanup wants people to wear plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on their faces — after it’s been transformed into a stylish, recycled pair of sunglasses, that is. Each pair of sunnies purchased helps clean plastic from 24 football fields worth of ocean.
Available in two sizes (small and large), Thinc Eco’s Woven Bags are handmade from 100 per cent wheat straw which would otherwise go to waste. At the end of its life, the bags can go back to the earth as they’re biodegradable.
Not only are smartass undies well... branded with smartass motivational quotes they’re also made from recycled plastic bottles. Buy a pair of the breathable and comfy jocks for men or women and save one square metre of rainforest through the brand’s partnership with HalfCut.Org.
Proving that sustainable can be stylish are the Superga x Aje co-designed sneakers which are made from materials sourced from local suppliers such as 60 per cent organic cotton, 40 per cent natural hemp and a 50 per cent recycled rubber sole. Take your pick from two styles: the Low Classic ($130) or Platform ($150).
Idyl ‘Lucia’ diamond earrings, on sale for $833 (RRP $1,113)
Belgium-based brand Idyl’s range of ethical and sustainable, lab-grown diamond earrings are a favourite of celebs such as Jessica Alba and Aussie Isla Fisher. Their gold is ‘green’ as it comes from conflict-free regions and adheres to strict environmental and human rights policies while their diamonds are made in a machine meaning they’re also conflict-free.
Food and drink
SodaStream has added a festive touch to its Spirit Water Maker which now comes in Boho Peach, Country Green and Urban Grey. A single SodaStream reusable bottle can save up to 2,000 single-use plastic bottles from ending up in the ocean or landfill.
Raise a glass to South Australia's Little Giant Wines which are donating a portion of profits from drops such as their Barossa Shiraz to WIRES to support injured or sick wombats.
Popular keep cup brand frank green is venturing into the beverage world with its ‘Sustainable Sips’ range is certified organic and Fairtrade artisanal tea and coffee. Each pack also comes with the necessary homebrew tools such as a French press, tea scoop and tea infuser.
Green Grove Organics is a Fair Trade, family-run Aussie brand out of Junee in regional NSW. Their large milk chocolate pizza wheel is 26cm in diameter and weighs in at an impressive 750gm.
Home and decor
Magnum is making sure Aussies are equipped for socially-distanced beach days with a new range of 2x2 metre bespoke designer towels. Sustainably sourced and 100 per cent cotton, the towels come in three prints and are sure to be hot property as only 250 are up for grabs. All proceeds go to Magnum’s charity partner 100WEEKS to support female cocoa bean harvesters who have been significantly impacted by COVID.
Plastic has never felt so cushy as Ikea’s Musselbloma cushions which are made of polyester fabric derived from PET plastic waste caught in the Mediterranean Sea by Spanish fishermen. The Swedish furniture giant says that for every kilo of PET plastic waste that’s made into fabric, another nine kilos of other waste is also taken out of the ocean.
Comfy, cool and featuring just the right amount of Australiana, these 100 per cent pure linen aprons are ethically sourced, woven and printed abroad and then designed and sewn locally in Sydney.
Each Maho sensory stick is made using natural sandalwood or agarwood bark that has fallen off the trees, meaning it’s 100 per cent vegan, cruelty-free and Fairtrade.
Green thumbs in training might benefit from this Plant Lover’s Essential Kit which contains the three key products for growing happier and healthier plants. Each recyclable and sustainable kit includes Grow Concentrate, Protect Spray and Support Pellets all of which are safe and effective for even the most sensitive of plants.
Tasmanian wool mill Waverley Mills has been producing beautiful woollen blankets like this pink and wine-hued picnic rug from offcuts, older blankets and other unused fibres for over 60 years. A timeless piece that can be passed from generation to generation.
Kmart’s On The Go cars are made partly from plant-based plastics and are perfect stocking-stuffers for junior rev-heads.
Christmas morning PJs that look great and are kinder to the planet? Santa approves.
Handmade in Melbourne from recycled and reclaimed timbers, Gully Boards’ Gully Junior Cruiser Skateboard is the perfect intro to the world of board-riding for little ones.
Under $25/ Secret Santa
Lush delivers yet again with this Vegan and cruelty-free Secret Santa gift featuring a lavender-scented Snowman Dreaming Bath Bomb and Candy Cane Reusable Bubble Bar that smells like candied citrus, all wrapped up in recyclable brown Kraft paper and a ribbon made from recycled plastic bottles.
Bar None’s biodegradable scrunchie is plastic free and compostable, made from cotton fibres and natural rubber from the sap of hevea brasiliensis aka the rubber tree.
Featuring cute koalas, zebra and ducks these cloths are machine washable and free of microplastics.
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