Happy green Christmas – more pleasure, less stress

We all need to factor in sustainability, it’s no longer a hippy or greenie thing to do, it’s essential for us all to consider.

It’s important to understand that we vote with our dollar, every time we make a purchase we are saying YES and giving a great big TICK to the company or country where the goods have been produced. If the goods we have chosen to purchase are made offshore it’s important that we know a little bit about how and where the goods are made and by who, the UN estimates that there are approximately 30 million slaves in the world today and 9 million of them are children! It’s important to consider - have the workers been paid fairly for their efforts, is the manufacturing process sustainable, are human rights or environmental practices a factor, were any children involved in the process, was there forced labour or slavery?

Unfortunately, this is the reality for millions of people in developing countries where modern day slavery still exists, we need to consider this and the implications our purchasing power actually has; does our desire for a particular product outweigh the basic human needs of a safe place to sleep, clean drinking water, food, medical attention, education and a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Cheap products may seem like a good idea and of course it is a factor for many families but ask yourself this – why are they so cheap? Who is making this stuff, who is missing out? It unfortunately comes down to more than just corporate buying power.

Whenever possible try to purchase locally, it’s a great way of supporting home-grown initiatives, producers and manufactures and it keeps people employed.

Many of the things we buy are plastic and as we know – plastic never ever breaks down!

Before you buy, ask yourself a few simple questions. Do I really need this? Is it recyclable or reusable? What is the impact on landfill and the environment? And what are the social implications of this purchase?

Here are some sustainable and wonderful Christmas gift ideas that everyone can enjoy. Gifts that are not only useful but pleasing for the receiver, environmentally sound, sustainable and recyclable or biodegradable. This is a win win situation all the way around

This Christmas is a great opportunity for us all to make wise choices with our gift giving and think carefully about how we are going to celebrate in a thoughtful, kind, generous and meaningful way.

Living gifts

  • Use the fabulous compost you made earlier this year, or buy some, plant up some cute non plastic pots, reuse old metal cans or glass jars. Paint the outside in bright colours or glue on some funky decals, be creative. You can plant just about anything, but herbs are always a great idea, as they are easy to grow and suit most people. Herbs are of course food but that can also be used as natural insect repellents at your door or window. Basil, Thyme, Sage, Mint and Parsley are great ideas.
  • Give an assortment of potted herbs or vegetables that can create a whole garden.
  • Grow your own veggies and make a veggie box, relish, pickle or other fantastic condiments like sauerkraut, a wonderful probiotic which is so easy to make is and an excellent gift for families.
  • Give a tree, citrus are always good or any other edible fruit trees are useful and a welcomed addition to any garden, they provide food, shade and clean air.

Make gifts at home

  • Put on your baking hat and whip up some batches of festive biscuits such as shortbread or gingerbread, they are simple and look wonderful when either gift wrapped or popped in a cute recycled jar or tin from the op-shop.
  • Make you own skin creams or bath salts and package them in recycled boxes or bottles, homemade labels are very cool.
  • Use recycled attractive bottles to fill with Apple Cider Vinegar or a good quality olive oil, add a sprig of Rosemary, Sage or Tarragon and voila, herb vinegar and herb oil
  • Buy a few metres of organic cotton and make simple Tee shirts, or scarves. Play with clay or natural vegetable dyes - go wild.

Give the gift of time – after all, love is spelt T.I.M.E

Our time and help is incredibly valuable and precious. Instead of always being too busy, schedule in gift giving time and devote yourself to some beautiful acts of service and kindness. This could be helping someone with some housework, or in their garden, making time for a chat on the phone or popping over with an extra meal or two for the freezer or even some baby-sitting. This is a truly wonderful gift for elderly relatives, friends who are busy or under a lot of stress or pressure, a new mum, a grieving family, someone who is convalescing or in a difficult spot or even your own family or neighbour!

Volunteer at the Salvation Army (or similar) Christmas Dinner, this is an amazing thing to do and every family should do it at least once in their life, it is a wonderful learning experience for children.

Virtual and online gifts

Several charities organise the supply of needed aid resources overseas by choosing a "gift" (i.e. school books, seeds, a goat, clean drinking water). Your money goes to purchase the gift, it is then delivered to the people and places that need it most and the person you have purchased the gift for gets a card to let them know they have sent a gift to someone in need in a developing country.

Try organisations such as:

  • World Vision www.worldvision.org.nz or Oxfam www.oxfam.org.nz both are amazing groups.
  • Ecologically sound and environmentally oriented online gifts are available. Try Ethical Shop www.ethicalshop.org. They are a not for profit organisation which aims for social justice for all and sales of products supports this. The catalogue contains educational books, calendars, diaries, greeting cards as well as some organic cotton clothing.

New Year clearing celebrations – resolutions are so 2010!

  • Organise a whole house recycling and reusing programme, aim for zero waste at the gate! Try not buying unnecessary consumables for a whole year (toys included) just to see if you can, get your whole family involved, it can be a really fun and educational activity for kids.
  • MAKE A COMPOST HEAP!! Use all your biodegradable household waste, and turn it into black gold so you can grow your own veggies, fruit trees and flowers
  • Build a veggie garden, plant your veggies and eat them. Get a worm farm or some chooks.
  • Teach your children to care for Mother Earth, how to recognise and forage for medicinal weeds, such as dandelion and plantain, the future lies in their hands as well as ours, food is our medicine, let’s keep it that way
  • Relax, de-stress, take time to connect and invite joy and ease back into your life.

Meri Kirihimete to you all, love and best wishes, Bridget