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Responsible Gift Giving – Reduce Your Footprint

This back end of the year is crowded with birthdays and Christmas. For many years, I have asked people not to give me gifts. If people insist, I ask them to donate what they would have spent, to the Leukemia Foundation. It’s the ultimate responsible gift giving. I understand though, that there are plenty people like to give and receive gifts. We are all different.

young boys weave baskets as part of responsible gift giving

So how do you give a gift that thrills or intrigues without adding to landfill or even worse, the dreaded ‘unwanted present’ category? Sure there are vouchers and chickens from Oxfam but sometimes people want something tactile, that they can hold in their hands or do something with. Here are some ideas for responsible gift giving.

A Box of Mushrooms

The entrepreneurs at Lifecykel have managed to tackle the challenge of waste coffee grounds by turning it into portable mushroom farms. The boxes come ready to go. Just spray with water and wait. Even the most doubting of my friends enjoyed this present, once the mushrooms started growing. My niece got a surprise limited edition McGrath Foundation box with bright pink mushrooms.

oyster mushrooms grow out of a box of coffee compost

Lucky Kim got snazzy pink mushrooms!

This is the ultimate in responsible gift giving as far as I’m concerned. It addresses food waste, allows you to grow something nutritious and tasty, is fun to watch as the mushrooms grow and when it’s all over, the box and coffee grounds can be composted. By directly from Lifecykel or Biome.

Mushrooms at Biome


The Milkwood Book

Milkwood is much more than a website or a bunch of ideas. It’s a movement. And now they have a wildly succesful book that brings it all together. Simply called ‘Milkwood’, it shares a wealth of information on home made and home grown. A guide to foraging, bee keeping, growing and lots more. Milkwood makes it possible for you to create a thriving hub in suburbia.

bees swarming around honeycomb and brood cells

OK – so technically this is a ‘thing’. But it’s a thing that opens up to a world of sustainable living. It’s the zenith of responsible gift giving.

Milkwood at Dymocks Booksellers
Milkwood Book at Biome


Produce Bags

If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’re already signed up to reducing single use plastic. No more plastic grocery bags for you. But what about those produce bags? A hand of bananas doesn’t need a bag but half a dozen tomatoes or a bunch of grapes do. This simple gift will open the eyes of friends about how easy it is to move away from single use plastic.

You can pull out the Elna, source the fabric and whip up some of these bags or, you can go the path of least resistance and just buy some. There’s a variety of mesh and lightweight fabric produce bags available. Grab some for yourself too.

Produce Bags at Biome


Biodegradable Coffee Cup

I was a very early adopter of the KeepCup. In the days when they could only be bought from a few places and no one in a coffee shop knew what it was. I still have the same one, over 10 years later. I’ll have the same KeepCup for the rest of my life – such is the durability of the cup and of plastic. The trouble is, if I’d known it was a cup for life, I might have chosen a brighter colour scheme.

Enter the bamboo or rice husk coffee cup. Heat resistant, dishwasher safe and available in a wealth of colours and prints. These cups last a few years by which time you can add it to the compost heap and buy a new design. For a modest price, you can upgrade every few years. New job, new cup!

These are a wonderful stocking stuffer. If you’re looking to impress, you can also buy the matching bowls or plates. You just need to explain that it’s designed to be biodegradable. When it starts to look a little worn out, you don’t want them thinking you’re a ‘rubbish present giver’.

Biodegradable Kitchenware at Aussie Health Products


A Workshop

If you really want to get into the spirit of responsible gift giving, you might want to share a gift that keeps giving. Give someone a workshop. They can learn how to make cheese or their own cosmetics. Or learn about fermentation. Perhaps they would like to try their hand at making their own worm farm or go to a talk about zero waste.

An open jar of Coffee Salt Scrub with some coffee beans scattered beside the jar

There’s a workshop or talk to suit any budget.

Workshops at Green Living Australia
Workshops at Biome

All of these responsible gifts are useful and show the recipient that you have put some thought into your choice. I’m sure they will be very pleased with their gift and that you are helping to reduce their footprint on the planet.

*This guide to Responsible Gift Giving includes affiliate links. I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) from any purchases made via the link. Many of the shops offer discounted and free post so save yourself some hassle, and buy online.


5 comments… add one
  • Sherry A Mackay November 20, 2018, 12:14 pm

    yep these are all great ideas. love the pink mushrooms:) are they for real? i am starting to feel i’m way too old for gifts – giving or receiving. funny how the older you get, the less interested you are in such things. i suppose it’s because you can’t take it with you when you go….

    • Fiona Ryan November 27, 2018, 12:27 pm

      Yes – those mushrooms are very much for real. It was a special fundraiser done by the McGrath Foundation. It just so happened that in the bunch of boxes I bought, there was one pink box. All the others were a very sedate mushroom colour ; ) I do like gifts but I like them to be thoughtful and relate to a person’s interests. Not panic buying for the sake of giving a gift.Those vouchers from Green Living Australia and Biome are good. I’d rather have no present and have good company over a nice cheese board and some wine. You can’t take it with you, which is why I am on the push to de-clutter and to divert our spending on to travel and great food. It’s not a hard choice!

  • sherry November 27, 2018, 1:04 pm

    yes i feel way too old to have to think about giving or getting presents. i have everything i need! so i like comestibles or useful things like tea towels and toiletries.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime November 27, 2018, 5:44 pm

    I really like this idea and endorse it completely. Each BIG birthday my dad chooses a charity and asks for people to donate instead of get him a gift. This year I bought trees for my uncle who had passed away, my grand daughter and my parents.

    • Fiona Ryan November 28, 2018, 12:30 pm

      I find that people often can’t get past having a ‘thing’ in their hand. They want to donate to a charity but then they still spend another $7 on the card and $10 on some chocolates so you ‘have something’. I haven’t needed anything in a very long time. I’m actually in the middle of making some Christmas gifts, which require me to laboriously tear and roll numerous strips of newspaper. I wonder how they will go down with the extended family?!

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