2020 More Thought, Less Waste Gift Guide (1)

MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE

A great way to avoid over shopping or suffering from CBP (Christmas Buying Panic) is to take advice from old St. Nick himself and write a list of everyone you want to shop for and the types of things they’re interested in. Not sure what they want to find under the tree? Ask! If you want to really stay on top of things, make a note of your budget for each person or decide on a flat rate for everyone.

And this may seem like strange advice at the very beginning of a gift guide but consider not giving gifts at all or cutting back on the number given. Many families have started doing secret Santa exchanges where they draw names from a hat and only get a gift for that one person instead of every uncle, aunt, and cousin.

Before you think I sound like a scrooge, I love to give gifts … just throughout the year when I see something that reminds me of the recipient. These surprise “just because” gifts feel less like an obligation and more like genuine giving.

WHERE TO BUY

While the convenience of Amazon is hard to beat, Christmas shopping is a great opportunity to support smaller businesses and independent sellers while avoiding miles of bubble wrap* and unnecessary packaging.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND CRAFT FAIRS

[ Please note: The More Thought, Less Waste series of posts was written before the recent lockdown announcement and I am unsure what live events are going ahead. Please check with the organisers for the latest information. ]

This is usually one of my favourite recommendations, but many craft fairs have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t buy from local makers. Check the website of individuals or your favourite craft fair to see how they’re handling things. Some have moved to virtual markets, and I’m aware of a few who will be running live, in-person events:

LOCAL SHOPS

In Chippenham, Cousin Norman’s, Just Because … You Love It!, Paprika, and The Bay Tree have a variety of locally made and/or quirky gifts. Wherever you are, take a little time to seek out independently owned businesses so your money can do double duty over the holidays: your recipient gets a great gift and a local business owner gets a boost.

CHARITY SHOPS

Shopping at charity or thrift shops has a bit of mystery around it: you never know what you might find. However, this is a great opportunity to reuse something and give an item a second (or even third) chance at being useful. It also supports a charity, so win-win!

REFILL SHOPS

If you’re planning to help your pals PALL (Plastic A Lot Less), then a local zero waste or refill shop makes a great place to find presents or stocking stuffers. You can find the one nearest you at the appropriately named Zero Waste Near Me. For Chippenham residents, consider checking out these local(ish) businesses:

ONLINE

Through suggestions from readers and a bit of sleuthing, I’ve found a number of online businesses doing their best to promote reusable products and plastic-free packaging. Although I have not tried them all (yet), this list is a great place to start for Christmas (and beyond):

    • Buy Me Once: An online shop with a number of premium products that are guaranteed to last a lifetime (or at least longer than average).
    • Friendly Soap: This shop has come highly recommended by several readers of the blog, and it offers soaps, shampoos, and conditioners in recycled/recyclable packaging that are vegan and cruelty free as well as free from sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and other not-so-nice chemicals. It is also an ethicalconsumer.org best buy.
    • Funky Soap Shop: I get quite a few products through the Funky Soap Shop because I like their refill service, and I’m hoping that more companies begin to follow suit online and off.
    • Herbfarmacy: British grown beauty products that are cruelty free, plastic free, and smell divine.
    • In Greens: A full-service website that covers everything from plastic-free travel and first aid products to kitchen, bathroom, and beauty products.
    • Little B: Family-run company producing a great range of beeswax strips and an ever-growing shop of other plastic-free items.
    • The Natural Spa: To quote from their tagline, The Natural Spa specialise in “plastic free and vegan hair care, soaps and other cosmetics.”
    • Onya: Carrying an Onya bag with me was one of the first plastic-free swaps I made over a decade ago, and I still love their products: practical, efficient, and practically indestructible.
    • Plastic Freedom: Pretty much a one-stop shop for plastic-free products, they also aim to cut back their packaging waste as well.
    • Plastics Free: A Cornish company that stocks a wide-range of products for all areas of the house.
    • Posy London: Organic and plastic-free deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner bars. The travel-size sets are great for samples and stocking stuffers.
    • Tabitha Eve: A Welsh company that produces a number of handmade, plastic-free products for around the house.
    • The Eco Shop UK: A little bit of everything to help you (or your gift recipient) start down the path to reducing waste.
    • Turtley Eco: Another one-stop shop, this one plants a tree for every order placed in the UK.

For US readers:

    • Buy Me Once: Long-lasting products to help put an end to throwaway culture.
    • Mighty Nest: A monthly subscription service for reusable products that came highly recommended by friends.
    • Tiny Yellow Bungalow: Zero waste and plant-based products for the entire family (and house).

Do you have a favourite Christmas market, refill shop, or online eco vendor that’s not mentioned? Drop me a line.

Where to shop: How to avoid Christmas Buying Panic by supporting local or independent retailers offline and on.

Wrapping it all up: Suggestions for how to cut back on wrapping paper waste (and don’t forget the scrunch test!).

Be a PALL: Help friends and family plastic a lot less.

For who they are … or want to be: Personality-based gifts for adults and children.

Around the house: Practical gifts that never go out of style.

Bits and bobs: A final collection of everything that doesn’t fit into one of these other categories.

Charity shops will often take good-quality used bubble wrap to pad bric-a-brac, but you may wish to check with your local shop as to whether they’re still doing this.

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