More Thought, Less Waste Gift Guide 2019 (4)

Welcome to the middle of this year’s gift guide! Keep reading for more ideas …

For those who need to relax

Vouchers to a local spa or beauty treatment are always welcome (at least in my household!). If you can support an independent business as well, then so much the better. 

For the reader

If you know that your intended recipient has a favourite magazine that they splurge on at the newsstand, consider giving them a 6- or 12-month subscription to it. Even less waste: can it be converted to a subscription that can be read on their tablet or eReader? 

Speaking of eReaders, my Kindle was one of the best gifts I ever received and I am never without it. If you know what type of eReader your recipient has, vouchers for ebooks are always welcome (hint, hint).

Vouchers to local bookshops are also great for those who love to browse. Beyond the usual High Street fare, Bath is home to at least two great independent bookshops: Mr B’s Emporium and Topping & Company Booksellers. Mr B’s Emporium also offers a very popular Reading Spa and subscription service, and both shops have regular events. Maybe you can give your recipient the gift of time and go for an evening out?

For the movie buff

There are so many ways to enjoy television programmes and films today, whether your recipient prefers watching from the comfort of home or wants a night out. You can purchase a gift card for Netflix, or consider a monthly or annual membership to the cinema through something like Odeon LimitlessCineworld Unlimited, or Picturehouse (check which is closest to your friend or family member).

For those who like funky feet

A fashion for brightly coloured socks has swept across the nation over the past several years and you don’t have to look far to find fun socks made out of bamboo, silk, or even merino wool. If you want your gift to go twice as far, consider supporting Stand4Socks: each pattern helps support a different topic such as safe waterhomelessness, and gender equality.

I debated about including this because it’s slightly NSFW (not safe for work … or those who dislike swear words—you have been warned before you click on the link), but I stumbled across Blue Q socks and they made me giggle. The company also donates 1% of the profits it makes from their socks towards Doctors without Borders, so they’re rude with a heart of gold. Or at least bronze.

For the explorer

Giving experiences that can be used throughout the year is a great way to almost completely eliminate Christmas waste while also helping the recipient make lasting memories. You’ll have science on your side too: it’s been shown that people tend to gain greater happiness from experiences rather than things.

To this end, consider giving an annual membership to the National TrustEnglish Heritage, or the British Museum (the latter is one of my favourite gifts to find under the tree!).  Or think local: in our neck of the woods there’s Westonbirt ArboretumBristol ZooBowood House, and Longleat.

For foodies

Or at least those whose taste buds you would like to tickle. Farm shops are a great source of local products, often with minimal plastic: jams and preserves, chutneys, exotic sauces, and honey all come in glass jars. Locally, I’ve always had success with Allington Farm Shop and Hartley Farm Shop, and I’m sure you can find a shop near you.

We also are fortunate in Wiltshire to be the home of Lick the Spoon, an award-winning producer of luxury chocolate. This family-run business has switched over to completely plastic-free packaging, and whether you’re looking for something to go in a stocking or under a tree, it’s hard to go wrong with these delicious chocs!

You can also consider keeping your friends and family hydrated:

  • Alcohol is a popular gift for a reason: most people seem to enjoy it. A bottle or three of your recipient’s favourite tipple could definitely put you in their good books for the New Year, and these are the type of gifts that gift bags were made for.
  • For the teetotal, tea (or coffee) could be a good choice. If you know that they’ve made the switch to loose-leaf tea, a refillable tea caddy could hit the spot. Locally, I use the Bath Tea House Emporium and Comins Tea to stock up. Comins in particular offers vouchers for great tea-tasting sessions and a wide range of tea-related paraphernalia. There are also various types of diffusers available (and yes, that’s a manatee, er, manatea), teapots, and plastic-free tea bags.

More food-based options include courses, ranging from general cookery to chocolate making and cake decorating to tea tasting (or alcoholic-beverage-of-your-choice tasting: wine, gin, whiskey).

For children

In addition to my passion for making the environment a better place, I am also a firm believer in gender equality. While culture is slowly (ever so slowly) changing, one place where we have more direct control is the toy box. Please consider the gifts you give your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and any young people you shop for: do they perpetuate gender stereotypes? It’s been shown these cultural beliefs limit the aspirations of children by the age of 7: break out of the pink-and-blue prison!

Chemistry sets, Legos, superheroes, and dinosaurs are not just for boys. Cooking, kitchens, cuddly toys, and crafts are not just for girls. While it’s important to consider if a gift is age appropriate (small, swallowable parts and small children don’t mix), the gender of the recipient shouldn’t factor into your decision. 

When giving gifts to children in particular, a big question to consider is whether the item can easily be handed down or taken to a charity shop once it’s outgrown (in other words, try to avoid the plastic toys that break if you look at them the wrong way).

I was one of those kids who loved to receive books under the Christmas tree (and still do!). If you’re shopping for one of them, there’s a wide range of environmental books to get them started on reducing their wasteline:

Read the entire 2019 More Thought, Less Waste gift guide:

  • Part 1: Why it’s so important to cut back on waste, especially at Christmas (in the UK, there’s a 30% increase in rubbish compared to the rest of the year).
  • Part 2: How to plan ahead to avoid waste and where you can shop; let me know if you have any favourites that should be included next year.
  • Part 3: Reduced waste wrapping and green gifts for those who are interested in the environment (or wouldn’t mind a gentle, plastic-free nudge). Don’t forget to give paper and foil the scrunch test! If it stays scrunched it’s paper or foil and can be recycled accordingly; if it bounces back, it’s made with plastic and likely has to go to landfill.
  • Part 4: Whether you’re catering for readers or film buffs, foodies or explorers, there is something for everyone and it doesn’t necessarily require packaging.
  • Part 5: Gift suggestions for around the house and garden (and if you’re into helping bees, make sure to check out the details for safe bee houses—they’re not all created equal).
  • Part 6: Wrapping things up with suggestions ranging from stuff with a story to lessons and experiences. If you think there’s something missing, please drop me a line!

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