FINDING GREEN GIFTS FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY THIS CHRISTMAS
BY LIESBETH DEDDENS, CLIMEWORKS
Concern for the environment has led to changing purchasing habits; whether it’s using biodegradable, chemical-free cleaning products, buying plastic-free goods such as bamboo toothbrushes and shampoo bars, changing energy suppliers to ones that only supply green energy, or cycling or walking to work instead of driving or taking the train. People are really doing their bit and every bit helps. This year in particular, I believe we’ll see many people applying this approach in their Christmas gifting.
If someone on your list is keen to be as green as possible here are some ideas to inspire you as you search for the perfect present.
SOLAR POWER BANKS AND SOLAR CHARGERS
Phones and other portable devise such as tablets need charging. This means using electricity, of course. To be fair, charging a device actually uses relatively little electricity but all the small efforts that go into conserving electricity add up. So, another great gift idea is a solar charger or a solar power bank.
A solar charger, as you would expect, captures solar energy to charge your device and a solar power bank will store the energy from the sun for when you need it later. In addition to the environmental benefits, they’re both economical and great for people that are always forgetting to charge their devices and get caught short at the vital moment. They’re also invaluable for those who like to hike or camp, for example, but still want or need their tech when they are in the great outdoors.
There are myriad options on the market and the right one will depend on budget and purpose. For instance, you can get large ones that strap to a backpack or super-portable ones for people that need to travel light. It’s worth doing your research to find perfect one for your environmentalist. Try here for some ideas:
It may not sound like the kind of thing that will excite your loved one when sitting round the tree on Christmas morning. However, consumerism and a surplus of objects that we don’t need and which then have to be disposed of, sooner or later, is part of the problem and reason we find ourselves in such a dire situation environmentally. So, it’s highly likely that knowing you have given your money to a charity that they believe in, will actually go down rather well.
There are so many charities and if you know what their favourite is, that’s the one to go for. Otherwise think about what their chief reasons for caring about the environment are, and pick a charity accordingly. If they are concerned about the impact on wildlife, consider a donation to Born Free, WWF or similar. If it’s deforestation, try something like the Rainforest Trust. And Greenpeace is generally a good bet! The good part about this is you can donate what you would usually spend on a gift so the donation can be big or small enough to suit your budget.
Of all the things we consider as environmentally damaging, water waste is perhaps not one that springs to mind very quickly. But, in fact, the average household uses 150 litres of water a day and very little of that is used for drinking or cooking. Harvesting rainwater is not only environmentally responsible, it also promotes self-sufficiency and saves money! Rainwater harvesting can be as simple as having a water butt in your garden to collect rainwater for plants and lawns. It can also go further with filtering systems, meaning you can use rainwater for toilet flushing and bathing. If you want to spoil your favourite “greeny” with anything from a decorative water butt to a complete harvesting system, you can get plenty of inspiration from Celtic Sustainables:
CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL
A Climeworks subscription is a unique proposition that anyone who wants to help reduce their impact on the planet will love!
Climeworks removes carbon dioxide directly from the air, which is then stored safely and permanently underground. What’s clever about this is that it removes historic CO2, i.e. the carbon dioxide that has been kicking around for some time and that needs to be removed to keep global warming under control.
Another clever aspect is its speed: within just five years from the date of purchase, CO2 is permanently removed from the air and stored underground – this is at least twice as fast as planting trees. And it differs from other methods through its permanence and safety: there is no risk of releasing the CO2 back into the atmosphere through burning, rotting, etc. This air-captured carbon dioxide is removed for good!
Climeworks works with big organisations, such as Stripe or Shopify, to help them remove their carbon footprint but it is also available to people like you and me – making it a great Christmas gift. For as little as €7 per month, 85kg of carbon dioxide can be removed from the air per year. That’s the equivalent of around four trees.
Together, as gifter and recipient, you’ll be making a difference in the world and helping to ensure this Christmas is truly climate-positive.
As mentioned, in a world already filled with material possessions, it’s unsurprising that gift experiences have become increasingly popular.
There are companies that arrange the whole experience for you, such as BuyAGift and Red Letter Days in the UK. Each has a huge selection of gift experiences to choose from, many of which will suit your environmentalist. For the nature lovers there are opportunities from rock climbing and zip lining to mountain biking and sailing. Or, if you think they’d prefer something more relaxing, there are glamping experiences and even the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in a tree house. The disadvantage, in addition to the cost is that they may have to travel some distance, negating some of the environmental advantages.
So, it might be worth doing a little more research and finding an experience local to them and getting a gift voucher. If they don’t automatically offer gift vouchers, most local businesses will come up with something. Think about what they would really like and buy accordingly, perhaps a local course in hedge laying or a slap-up meal at their local vegan restaurant.
Alternatively, give them an experience where they don’t even need to leave the house. Airbnb is the perfect place to look for these experiences. For example, your loved one can dive under the sea with a shark expert or meditate with a Japanese Buddhist monk from the comfort of home!
SUPPORT TREE PLANTING
However fundamental our grasp of deforestation is, we are all aware that more trees equals less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and more oxygen thus, in a small way, planting trees helps address the impact of the mass deforestation. There are limitations in the effect of planting trees to save our environment as only mature trees really have any effect. Also, there is simply not enough land space to plant the number of trees needed to reverse the damage that has already been done. That said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to make a contribution by giving your eco-friendly friends a sapling to plant. Interestingly, the old favourite, the conker tree (Horse Chestnut) is a great tree for absorbing and storing CO2.
If space is an issue, The Woodland Trust gives you the opportunity to buy ‘trees for bees’. For just £10, you can help the Trust plant more trees and create future homes for wildlife in the UK. They even send you a certificate that you can personalise.
IF IT’S TIME FOR A NEW SMART PHONE…
While many people may be coveting the latest iPhone or Samsung, those who care for the planet may well be carrying around a very old mobile phone, already well aware of the environmental impact.
As techradar has reported “ICT (Information and Communication Technology) represented just 1% of the carbon footprint in 2007 and, according to the researchers, will top 14% by 2040.” Despite their size, the increased use of smartphones means they play a large part in these figures.
Your friend or family member won’t thank you for buying them a new phone unless they really need one but, if they do, look at Fairphone; they are all about designing longer-lasting products and can be repaired. Their materials are responsibly sourced, and they have replaceable modules that you can use to fix the phone yourself! And they can be recycled when its’s finally time to replace them. At just under £400, they’re not an inexpensive gift, but they are one that the recipient can expect to enjoy for (literally) years to come! Or, why not get them a gift card for them to redeem when they do need it:
If you have friends and family members who have been green for a while, they may have received quite a few rather similar gifts over the years. I hope these ideas will help you give them something they will love this Christmas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liesbeth Deddens is from Climeworks. Climeworks empowers people to reverse climate change by permanently removing carbon dioxide from the air.
One of two things happens to the Climeworks air-captured carbon dioxide: either it is returned to earth, stored safely and permanently away for millions of years, or it is upcycled into climate-friendly products such as carbon-neutral fuels and materials, fertilizer for greenhouses or bubbles in your fizzy drinks. The Climeworks direct air capture technology runs exclusively on clean energy, and the modular CO2 collectors can be stacked to build machines of any size.
Founded by engineers Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, Climeworks strives to inspire 1 billion people to act now and remove carbon dioxide from the air.
Together we can build a climate-positive world. Join us!
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