With billions of dollars’ worth of gifts tossed into landfill every year, you’re probably wondering how to keep your latest birthday surprise from a similar fate. It is possible – here’s how to give your family and friends a gift that they’ll love, without costing the earth.
The gift-giving process is a massive source of pollution, and with birthdays and Christmases rolling around faster each year, is it any wonder we’ve got clothes, jewellery, plastic gift wrap and knick-knacks piling up in landfill? Plastic is one of the biggest issues, with most of our gifts lined with this stuff, then double packaged in – you guessed it – more plastic. Here’s why this is an issue. Each year, 8 trillion tonnes of plastic pollute our oceans, and these plastics are accountable for 80% of the debris found in the ocean. This pollution is responsible for a yearly 100, 000 deaths of marine life, which is caused when animals choke or get caught up in these plastics. But it’s not just sea life at risk, we’re also under threat from this pollution. The plastic waste often seeps into our food and water sources, meaning we’re consuming this stuff every day. These plastics wreak havoc on our hormones, which can lead to inflammation and an unbalanced gut microbiome. In fact, studies have shown that long-term exposure damages the endocrine system, leading to fertility issues and problems with reproductive function.
Clothes are another source of landfill waste – and also one of the most popular gifts. Research shows 50% of people throw their unwanted clothes straight into the rubbish instead of donating them or reusing them, and nearly 65% of the clothing produced each year ends up on landfill heaps. Around 92 million tonnes of clothing go to waste every year and if we carry on like this, emissions from the fashion industry are set to rise by 50% before the decade’s done. It’s time to get creative with our present choices to keep our planet as happy as your gift recipient!
For a more sustainable gifting experience, try these 3 options – there’s something for everyone, from the green thumbs to the tech heads.
If your friend is a green thumb with a knack for gardening, a compost tin or caddy could be the perfect gift to help them get their kitchen bench compost started. Indoor composting is growing in popularity – and for good reason. This practise cuts down on waste and makes for perfect garden fertiliser for all your plant-happy friends and family. With half of all fruit and veggie produce wasted and an output of nearly 80 million tonnes of waste in Australia every year, composting is one way to reduce our impact. Food scrap wastage is one of the big contributors to climate change, and this is because of the methane these scraps release. So, pick out a caddy for your gardening friends to enjoy this sustainable addition to their kitchen – it’s especially useful for apartment dwellers who can’t keep a compost heap in the backyard. Pick out a sturdy stainlesss-steel caddy, an aesthetically-pleasing ceramic caddy or a tin made of recycled materials for your next gift.
Solar-powered phone charger
Got a friend who’s always breaking their phone cable? This could be the perfect gift for them that kills two birds with one stone – it’s a wireless, sturdy charger that poses no risk of fraying or snapping, and it’s great for the planet too. The production of regular chargers uses inefficient materials which contribute to carbon emissions, and when the cables start to fray or break, they take up space in landfill – they also happen to be one of the biggest causes of electronic waste. E-waste can result in environmental damage, water and ecosystem pollution, compromised soil and can even cause toxic chemicals like lead and mercury to seep into our food and water sources. Considering phone chargers are to blame for 13 000 tonnes of electronic waste every year, it’s time to put a stop to flimsy, unsustainable chargers and go green for your friend’s next birthday gift – try Kmart for a more affordable option, coming in at less than $20 for a charger, or give brands like BioLite, BigBlue or Ryno Tuff for a sturdier product.
Reusable sandwich bags
These sandwich bags make the perfect gift for all your friends with kids – or even just those who are kids at heart and are enjoy a fun lunch experience at work. Instead of plastic lunchboxes that only survive a few uses or wasteful cling wrap and bags, these reusable sandwich bags are cheap, sustainable – and pretty cute, if you ask us – ways to revamp your lunch-packing process. You can find them in stores like Coles and Woolies, or you can find handmade designs online through sites like eBay and Etsy – these woodland-inspired bags are ideal for your artsy friends, and these patterned sandwich bags come up for an affordable $6. If you’re good with a needle, you could even design and make your own sandwich bags to add a personal touch to your next gift.
Here are a few more sustainable gift ideas to inspire you:
- Reusable keep-cups for coffee – with coffee cups ending up in landfill and polluting our oceans, these reusable cups are an ideal gift to get your recipient drinking sustainably and stylishly.
- LARQ water bottle – this is one of the world’s first self-cleaning bottles! This will not only mean one less thing for your recipient to worry about, but it’ll also cut down on water wastage.
- Zeal Optics See Grass Sunglasses – these sunglasses are made from recycled materials.
- Make a donation in your friend’s name: If your friend or family member is the type to appreciate this kind of gift, it can be a heart-warming gesture that contributes to a more sustainable world.
- Hemp socks – United by Blue is a sustainable brand of hemp-based socks which are made from hemp fibre. The company also claims to keep one pound out of the ocean for every product they sell.
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