Green Gifts

Gecko made from disused oil drums in Haiti. © Amy Nancarrow

Gecko made from disused oil drums in Haiti.

When buying presents for your loved ones this year, consider the amount of energy and water that goes into their production, along with the environmental cost of transporting the goods, and the greenhouse gas emissions involved in their production and eventual disposal.

  • Look for practical, quality items that serve a need and will last for a long time.
  • Buy items with less packaging and products that can be recycled or reused.
  • As you shop, look for gifts produced by the companies that are working to reduce their impact on the environment.

You can also think outside the (gift) box for some unique ideas that are sure to be memorable, yet minimal in their environmental impact.

  • Treat people to a special experience instead of an item - such as theatre tickets, a massage or even a day with you!
  • Make your own presents.  Home-made food, like chutney, cakes, or chocolate truffles, are great gifts. Or check out these great craft ideas.
  • Send a hamper full of locally grown organic food.
  • For a gift that grows, give a native tree.
  • Look for good quality books in second hand bookshops, or buy a gift of a magazine subscription.
  • Gift certificates make a great present as as you can be sure the recipients will get something they want or need.
  • Charities such as Oxfam ( and CARE Australia ( provide gift services that donate on your behalf to a community with which they work. From $10 up you can give a ‘Toolkit for a builder' to a mate, ‘Literacy classes' to your teacher friend, a ‘Mosquito net' to a traveling niece or many other interesting ideas. It's all made easy - the charities send a personalised card to your family or friend explaining your gift and include your message to them.
  • Buy presents that are environmentally beneficial like a worm farm.
  • If you find yourself with a few unwanted gifts, try hosting a swap party at work or with friends. Swap parties involve the free exchange of everything from toys, to clothes, tools and electronics. They are a great form of alternative recycling. To download a swap party guide visit


More eco-ideas

For other green tips over the festive season, download the Festive Green Guide as a pdf or podcast below.