This is it. The final part of the 2020 More Thought, Less Waste gift guide. Are you still looking for that certain something? Keep reading!
STUFF WITH A STORY
I mentioned this way back in part 1, but I think it bears repeating: consider shopping second hand. Charity shops and vintage boutiques may turn up the perfect pressie, and there are some very creative and clever people out there turning old products into new things.
- I had the privilege of interviewing Simon Webb earlier this year as part of my “other” life, and he makes an amazing range of items from historic, bespoke, or just all-around interesting wood. Well worth checking out if you’re looking for something that will help the recipient get in touch with history or perhaps even become a family heirloom.
- I discovered the Vintage Silver Workshop at the Bath Artisan Market, and they have a beautiful range of products made from old cutlery. If you know your friend or loved one enjoys quirky silver jewellery, then this may be the motherlode.
- I have to admit that I haven’t seen any Wyatt and Jack products in person, but I love the idea behind the company. They make new products out of unusual items: punctured inflatables, bouncy castles, and deck chairs.
- There is also Freitag who make bags out of lorry tarps, but the price may be prohibitive for a standard Christmas gift. Sourced is a Cornish company doing something similar (although I’m not 100% certain they’re still in business as their Twitter feed hasn’t been updated since 2016).
- For even more quirky, eco-friendly bags (and wallets, belts, and laptop cases), check out Cycle of Good. You can even get a secondhand Elephant Bike that was used to deliver the post!
- Many thanks to a reader for sharing Lorna Doyle’s amazing work turning rescued wetsuits into new products. Perhaps the perfect gift for the ocean lover in your life?
I’m sure there are a lot of other interesting products that have been upcycled to give them a new life; please let me know what they are so I can include them in a future post!
If you want Christmas to last beyond a single day, it’s possible to get your friend or family member regular subscription boxes, which usually have three-, six-, or twelve-month options. These can range from tea and brownie boxes to houseplants and children’s crafts – and everything in between. You may need to dig a little deeper to see a company’s eco-credentials, but this is a nice way to support smaller businesses while showing that you care throughout the year.
Maybe I’m jaded, but I think one of the reasons Christmas has gotten a bit out of hand is because people want the social media friendly image of a tree surrounded by piles of presents. A gift card in an envelope doesn’t make quite the same impression, but it almost completely reduces packaging waste, doesn’t take up space or need to be dusted, and, in most cases, lets the recipient choose exactly what they want. I understand wanting to give children something to open, but I would hope adults can get a bit of Christmas joy without the wrapping paper and bows.
In addition to gifts of annual memberships, there are so many other days out that you can treat friends and family to, from hot air balloon rides to afternoon tea to a day at the races. Virgin and Woodmansterne offer packages, or you can put together your own custom surprise (Jon is very good at this!). A friend shared how she and her family usually avoid unwanted gifts at Christmas by pooling their money to purchase an experience they can all enjoy together. While 2020 (and 2021) may not be the right time for this, it’s worth considering for future Christmases.
Whether blowing glass, sewing, or decorating cakes, there are enough how-to courses out there to tempt even the pickiest of recipients (chocolate making perhaps?). Just visit Google (or Zoom?) for the nearest class.
The musical Avenue Q said it best: “When you help others, you can’t help helping yourself.” There are so many worthwhile charities that you can donate to in the name of your recipient. Besides the Adopt-an-Animal schemes already mentioned, you can have a tree or two planted by the Woodland Trust, purchase a goat (or chicken or school books) through Oxfam Unwrapped, or even subscribe someone to the Big Issue.
Don’t overlook making something yourself: if you have a bit of spare time and a favourite recipe, a homemade treat is always welcome (although you may wish to check on allergies, dietary requirements, and current COVID guidelines to be on the safe side). Or consider actual DIY—is there something that a friend or family member needs done around the house that you can help with? Jon and I have done homemade Advent calendars filled with positive activities to foster the Christmas spirit throughout the entire month of December.
If you made it all the way to the end of the 2020 More Thought, Less Waste gift guide: well done and thank you! Please don’t forget to drop me a line or share your thoughts on social media about products that worked well, those that didn’t, and new things you think should be added next year.