More Thought, Less Waste Gift Guide 2019 (5)

There are a lot of potential minimum-waste gifts that can brighten the recipient’s day and be used around the house or garden. Keep reading to check them out, and don’t forget to drop me a line if there are other products you think should be included.

For those with—or without—a green thumb

I love the idea behind Seedball: native wildflower seeds are wrapped up in a bit of clay, chilli powder is used to keep the insects away, and compost to give the seeds a head start. They come packaged in a lovely tin that is perfect for a stocking or buy one of the sets to give as a main present. Simply sow the seeds on the ground or stick a few balls in a pot to enjoy flowers throughout the year.

You can also package up seeds from your own garden; Burgon and Ball do seed envelopes, but you can also save a few pounds and just pop them into your own envelope with a few details on the back about what they are, the date collected, etc.

One of my favourite go-to gifts for office workers is a mug with a potted plant popped inside. Mugs can often be found for a pound or less at charity shops, and a small succulent or cactus is a low-maintenance addition that is small enough not to take up too much room on a desk. Bonus: plants have been scientifically proven to help inspire creativity.

This next gift suggestion is a bit unusual but bear with me: a compost bin. If your recipient’s garden has the space and it’s something they’ve shown an interest in but haven’t gotten around to getting yet themselves, a basic Dalek-style compost bin could be the solution. Bow or ribbon optional.

Still looking for something green? Vouchers to a local garden centre, boxes of spring bulbs, or a houseplant may be just the ticket.

For the wildlife lover

Gifts for the garden are the type that keep giving: bee houses*, bat housesbird feeders, and nest boxes help provide wildlife habitat and give the recipient something to watch out for during the year. Bonus points: help them install it! 

There’s also adopting an animal. Not for real of course (dogs, cats, and guinea pigs are for life, not just Christmas), but through a charity such as the Wildlife Trusts. Sealspuffins, and red squirrels are all up for grabs, and most wildlife charities will offer something similar.

For the house proud

I was introduced to Weaver Green’s products a few years ago and absolutely love that they have managed to turn recycled plastic bottles into stunning and stylish rugscushionsblankets, and handbags. The colours and designs are easy on the eyes, and despite being made from plastic the rugs are soft under foot. I can also vouch that the rugs clean up easy so they’re ideal in a kitchen or bathroom, and while I haven’t tried them outside, they are advertised as being versatile.

For the bathroom

I debated about whether to include this in the plastic-free section but it grew so long that I thought it deserved its own place on the list, especially as bath sets tend to be a popular Christmas gift (in the UK at least). Check out my bathroom to see some of the products that can be replaced with plastic-free versions.

Since last year’s guide, I’ve found a lot more places have started to produce plastic-free bath products. While I have not tried them all (yet), here are a few you may wish to check out:

  • Friendly Soap: This has come highly recommended by readers of the Off the Ground blog, and, based on their website, their products seem to be the ultimate in free from (vegan, cruelty free, and free from various chemicals that can cause skin irritation). Their packaging is recyclable too.
  • Funky Soap: I have a friend to thank for making me aware of the Funky Soap Shop, a London-based company that produces various lotions and potions in mostly plastic-free and refillable containers. Their olive oil and moringa moisturiser has become a fast favourite, and I love that they offer an eco-checkout option: the packaging is all recyclable.
  • Herbfarmacy make an incredible collection of products that are organic, vegan, and cruelty free. I’m a fan of their calming face cream, but everything I’ve tried from them has been lovely (bonus: you end up smelling like a summer meadow).
  • Posy London: I came across this Berkshire-based brand during a visit to Hampstead Norreys earlier this, and thus far the products we’ve tried have worked well for both Jon and me.
  • The Natural Spa: The shop Just because … you love it! in Chippenham introduced me to this Devon-based company who do a range of great smelling shampoo and conditioner bars.
  • A High Street staple in the UK, most of Lush’s products are in their distinctive black pots that can be returned to the shop for recycling. They also carry a selection of “naked” (i.e. packaging-free products) as well as offer knot wraps: scarf gift wrapping. And gift cards are also available if you can’t decide what your recipient will want (or what scents they can tolerate).

And for the person who has everything, there is always toilet paper.

Who Gives a Crap produce a range of forest-friendly toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels.  I made the jump to WGAC over 18 months ago, and it is a simple way to cut down on plastic while also supporting a company who is trying to improve the world one loo at a time. One of the most eye-opening books I’ve ever read was Rose George’s The Big Necessity. Quite simply it’s a book about toilets … and how nearly half of the world doesn’t have proper sanitation. The health and social problems this causes cannot be understated, which is why Who Gives a Crap and their promise to use half their profits build loos in developing countries caught my eye. As an extra bit of reusability, each roll comes wrapped in brightly coloured paper that can be used to wrap gifts (provided your recipient doesn’t mind a bit of WGAC branding).

WhoGivesACrap Plasticfree Toilet Paper

I received quite an education about proper bee houses on Twitter this year; make sure to check out guidelines before purchasing because many commercially available houses are not actually good for bees.

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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