Posted on 28 Comments

To gift or not to gift…

It’s that time of the year again – festive season madness.  While we as Shop Zero™ do not promote consumerism and encouraged customers not to buy anything (excluding your essentials of course) during the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail campaigns, we are also realists and understand that gifting is a tradition for many during this time.

Sustainable festive gifting
I personally believe the trick is to handle it responsibly.  After two decades of attempting to mimimise our family’s festive gift budget, we have finally settled on a gifting solution that works quite nicely for everyone.  We all put or names on individual pieces of (recycled) paper, pop the names in a bowl and then each family member draws a name.  You will then ONLY buy a gift for that person whose name you drew and it has to fall within the allocated budget (which is R300 in our case).  This way everyone gets a gift and you can buy something decent for that amount – first prize being from a second-hand store.

Sustainable living inspiration
Why limit the joy of sustainable living to the festive season?  Let it be the start of a new lifestyle, one that focuses on being more aware of your impact on the environment.  Attempt to eliminate that which does not serve your health or the well-being of this planet.  Start by looking at what you consume on a daily basis and ask:
1. Is it all necessary?
2. Where can I cut back on waste and excess?

Introduce small changes instead of trying to tackle everything at once, which might become overwhelming and discourage you from the end goal: being kind to yourself and this beautiful planet.

For example: If you notice you love and eat a lot of chocolate, how can you still enjoy this treat in a healthy and responsible way?  Easy… through informed substitution!

Take Soaring Free Superfoods Raw Chocolate.  Although it comes in packaging, its Certified Organic Raw Cacao in home compostable packaging means it’s organic,  it’s a superfood and it’s packaged earth friendly.  By swapping a refined sugary chocolate bar wrapped in non-recyclable plastic for wholesome Raw Superfoods Chocolate, you know you’re doing the right thing, since the chocolate is fair trade, unprocessed and packaged in resonsible packaging.  You can even cut up the packaging and pop it in your bokashi composter bin.

This is a small example of turning an old ‘bad’ habit into a ‘new’ constructive one.   This process will become second nature if you continue to ask these simple questions as you navigate through your daily consumption habits.

Sustainable gift guide
If you are looking for sustainable gifting ideas that have a positive impact on our planet, here are some suggestions.  These really are gifts that keep on giving as they are ALL reusable and make a real difference to reducing your plastic waste:

R100 and under
Stainless Steel/ Copper /Glass Straw & Straw Cleaning Brush
Coconut Bowl
FreshBags veggie or bread bags
Masterstock Cape Wild Food 50ml bottle
Nourish luxurious body/ face soaps or shampoo bars

R200 and under
Market string bag
Hemp printed shopping bags: exclusive to Shop Zero™
Bamboo toothbrush & travel case
Back2Nature vegan face & body products

R300 and under
Ecoffee/ William Morris reusable bamboo cup
Reusable drinking bottles
Composter: bokashi bin & bran
Kuro-Bo water filters
Tiffin food and picnic storage tin
Book: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
Book: The Magic of Superfoods by Peter & Beryn Daniel

Happy sustainable shopping and remember, every small change makes a huge difference.  So even if you don’t shop zero waste yet, aim to shop eco-friendly.

The festive season is not necessarily a religious occasion for our family, but it is the only time we are all able to all take leave and come together as a family to look back on the year, be thankful for our blessings and spend quality time together.  We wish our Shop Zero™ customers and followers the same and more.

If you have any other sustainable tips and tricks or any ideas for responsible gifting solutions, please share it with us and post them in the comments here.

28 thoughts on “To gift or not to gift…

  1. Love this initiative ! My Green gifting tip is reduce , reuse , recycle. Upcyle by using old glass bottles for planters or vases !

  2. I love getting crafty with inexpensive DIY gifting, such as recycling paper and packaging into personalized cards, photo frames and pot plants.

    Ditch the wrapping paper by using old newspaper, fabrics and ribbons for wrapping gifts.

    If buying presents, support local businesses that are ethical, water-wise and vegan-friendly.

    If you’re on a tight budget, home-made vouchers for loved ones and family are special and sweet – such as “breakfast in bed” or “coffee date” or “back massage” vouchers.

  3. Some tips and tricks for responsible gifting:
    – Give homemade presents.
    -Buy a gift of experience. (for example a ticket to a concert, a voucher of a sustainable shop, a trip to a museum or park. ?)
    -wrap your gifts in upcycled paper, newspapers and paper bags. You can also wrap your gifts in napkins or reusable bags.
    -Give a consumable gift. (for example cookie mix, candles, coffee beans etc.)

  4. I’m going to be super conscious this year when giving gifts, I either want to give my loved ones something they can use to reduce their waste like glass straws, produce bags or homemade pressies that dont need unnecessary plastic bags or tags. Christmas should be about giving, without hurting the environment.

  5. Home made chocolate made from soaring free superfoods ingredients, stored in glass jars 🙂

  6. There’s so many small changes that one can make to reduce their plastic consumption- especially when it comes to wrapping gifts! Every year I like to try something different and be more creative with my gifting ideas.

    A few simple tips and tricks for someone just starting and taking an interested in greener gifting is to use newspapers or any other recycled materials to wrap gifts. Try to avoid plastic ribbons and bows. Creating your own gift tags is fun! Tags inspired by nature are my favourite. Making use of twigs, leaves, shells, sand, etc are some of the few things you can use.

    This is good start for anyone looking to make a small change to their traditional gifting habits!

  7. -Since I was younger I always tried to make homemade gifts for my loved ones, for me that makes it for more personal and plus you can cater to whatever that person likes. This year I’m trying my hand at making homemade chili oils and pickles.

    -It’s also good to get someone something that can lend themselves to learning about being eco-aware, like reusable straws, cute reusable shoppers or in my case, I’m getting my dad a shaving brush and enamel bowl because he recently made the switch to using a safety razor.

    -Another thing is choosing to gift an experience or just to spend time with the person, time is the cheapest, but the most meaningful gift you can give.

  8. Trying to go the green gifting route is tricky, especially when it is your first time. It is so much easier going to the shops, getting some wrapping paper and never seeing it again. However, all the paper and plastic (bows and ribbons) is causing harm to the environment a lot of people have no clue about the extent it is actually causing.

    Green gifting has been popular in our family for some time and we trying to get better and better at it. We try use furoshiki when we can get some and we reuse this until it is falling apart – often seen the same furoshiki at picnics, birthdays and christmas. Along with the furoshiki, there will be a hand written card made from newspaper / leaves / sticks etc. Its a great way to get crafty and actually feel that your gift is something unique and special, whilst also having a very low impact on the environment. We also have moved away from giving gifts, we do 1 per person and then donate the price of a gift to a charity or organisation.

  9. Gifting tips:

    I think a book about sustainability is a wonderful idea. It will help spread the word and hopefully inspire someone to make better choices in the long run! The gift that keeps on giving, right?

    Or, instead of a ‘thing’, give a donation to a charity on behalf of a loved one (to a cause that they are passionate about!)

  10. Green gifting, excellent way to go?…

  11. I think some really cool sustainable gift ideas could be :
    – a plant planted by you in a nice pot
    – an experience like a picnic in a beautiful place with homemade food.
    – a gift voucher to have a massage or treatment!
    – homemade biscuits/treats in a reused jar .

  12. I do the following:
    – Make homemade cards instead of purchasing gift cards at the store (in plastic, ew)
    – Reuse any gift bags, wrapper paper or packaging I’ve accumlated over the past year
    – Choose to give gift items that are locally made/ ethically sourced and it foodstuffs or cosmetics, always ensuring it’s vegan!
    – Choose to gift ‘experiences’
    – Purchasing reusable straws, shopping bags, ecoffee cups for family or friends to encourage living low-waste

  13. My green gifting tip… When I purchase items from a general store I save all the glass bottles and place a gift in the jar with a pretty ribbon. Some times I place biscuits in the jar or place a plant in the jar and give it as a gift (the gift that keeps on growing & giving!)

  14. Turning away from single use plastics and unnecessary wastage can be difficult at first.

    My tip is, even though it can sometimes take a while to change not only your mindset but your daily routine, it is always easier when you have someone doing it with you.
    Having a friend who is going green as well is a great support. You can encourage each other and help come us with creative solutions to things.
    It is also a great way to spread the change. Its going to take everyone trying their little bit that will make a huge difference at the end if the day.

  15. My green gifting tip is to ditch the gift wrap and gift bags and use fabric as a replacement . It look old bautiful and can be reused countless times.

  16. My Christmas green top tip is using cloth and ribbon to wrap all the prezzies…obv reusing the same cloth and ribbon every year 😉 Also I make a lot of prezzies myself and put them in reusable glass containers. I find people actually really love prezzies you have taken the time and love and care to make yourself. Usually they are TASTY TREATS made with delicious healthy ingredients!

  17. I also think that it’s such a strong counter-cultural move to say ‘no’ to the rampant consumerism that engulfs our culture around Christmas time. There is such pressure to give our children crazy amounts of gifts and it’s so hard to resist. But we have to make a deep conscious internal decision to not just ‘buy green gifts and use green wrapping’ but to actively say an internal no to greed and consumerism. At the end of the day Christmas is about sacrifice, love, relationship and joy. Our ‘why’ is so important. Why do we choose to buy less, consume less, go green at Christmas? Because if we find our why then living green becomes part of who we are, a daily expression of the belief that we are quite literally custodians of this beautiful earth, and every purchase we make matters.

  18. I love to make my own gifts from materials I already have at home, and I will take up any opportunity to buy reusable things for the ones closest to me! Reusable bamboo or stainless steel straws, plastic free water bottles, and general plastic free gifts such as my favourite shampoo bar – my family love it. I wrap my gifts in material that I have at home, or with old newspaper.
    By doing little things like this, my family and friends can see how simple it is to use less plastic!

  19. Lovely idea.

    1. Thank you for reading Alex.

  20. A green education box…

    If I could wish for one thing, it would be for man kind to open up their eyes wide to what is REALLY happening to our beautiful planet. Too many of us are simply in denial-mode and it is time to switch gears in to green-living- action-mode. And it all simply starts with educating yourself. Knowledge is power. Therefore, presenting my friends and family with a ‘green education box’ packed with tips and tricks to help guide them on their green-living journey sounds like a perfect green gift idea.

    Here is a list of ‘things’ that I would put in the box:

    The must read ‘Low Tox Life” book by the Lox Tox Guru herself; Alex Stuart
    ‘The Healthy Life’ recipe book by Jessica Sepel
    A link to two of my favorite podcast; Low Tox and The Slow Home
    The Power Of Now audio book (Simply because it is a must-read or listen for everyone!)
    Reference list to powerful documentaries such as: Stink, Plastic Ocean, Minimalism and Sustainable.

    And then of course I will throw in 2 stylish reusable shopping bags and a bamboo straw…we all have to start somewhere and those are two BIG changes we all can make!

    1. Love this idea. Thank you Manya!

  21. Love this little gift guide ?

    This year I challenged myself to make and give only sustainable gifts.

    For my sister and friends, I went to a second hand shop and bought a few multicolored skirts and shirts. I sewed scrunchies using the elastic and thread that I found in our sewing box at home. I found this was a great way to upcycle the unwanted clothes and donate to a charity shop.

    My tip is to be creative with what you find at home, upcycling and repurposing is a fantastic way to make an environmentally-conscious, handmade and personalized gift.

    1. Thank you for reading Jess. You are amazing and we love your tip!

  22. Our local newspaper always comes with a blank piece of paper that wraps around the adverts in the middle of the paper. So I’ve been collecting these newspaper-sized blank papers to use for wrapping gifts this year ? I’ll be using string instead of ribbon and a stem of lavender or rosemary from out of the garden as a bow ? If you can’t re-use old wrapping paper or gift bags, I suggest you make a conscious effort to buy wrapping paper that is 100% paper that can be recycled. Also, let’s get a little creative and maybe part of the present being gifted can be a container or gift box that can be used again ? It’s the little things that count! And we all have to start somewhere. Merry Christmas everyone x ?

    1. Thank you for your comment Gitte. What a great idea. Merry Christmas! X

  23. Love this article!

    My advice would be to upcycle unwanted items. It’s inexpensive and much more environmentally-friendly than buying a new item.

    For example, I bought some funky patterned skirts and shirts from a second hand clothing store. I cut and sewed them into scrunchies and gave them as gifts for my sister and friends.

    I also suggest that you wrapping gifts in used wrapping or tissue paper, and make handmade cards (which are much better to receive than store-bought!)


  24. Love this article!

    My advice would be to…
    – Upcycle unwanted items into usable gifts, for example this year I bought some funky patterned shirts and skirts, which I used to turn into scrunchies as gifts for my sister and friends
    – Give gifts with minimal packaging – local wines, jams (which can also be homemade), online vouchers (Netflix subscriptions, eBooks, iTunes “gift cards” etc.)
    – Give gifts that encourage sustainable living, for example herb or vegetable plants, reusable coffee cups, glass straws, safety razors and shampoo/soap bars

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