Gifts with less packaging
Have you ever been frustrated by gifts that come sandwiched between two polystyrene blocks, bound with plastic ties, in a plastic bag, inside a larger cardboard twice the size of the gift itself? Perhaps you’re not sure what to get but know you want one that reduces waste. Whether you’re looking for something unusual to give or want to get more gifts for your budget this list of ideas has something for you.
There are web links to a lot of the items described below, the web link takes you to just one place that sells the particular gift we’ve listed so before you buy please shop around to see if you can find any other organisations that sell it for a better price. There are many more gifts that you can buy that save waste – if you find a great example please tell us about it by email, Facebook or Twitter.
This doesn’t have to mean fewer presents; these gift ideas reduce packaging now or reduce rubbish in the future.
Gifts of Time
It’s the thought that counts. Your time is very precious so time makes a great gift to give someone you care about. When you give your time you can still create an attractive gift for them to unwrap by making or designing on a computer a personalised cheque or promise giftcard, here are some ideas to get you started…
- Take a family member or friend to see someone they’ve not seen in a long time
- Offer to clear up a garden
- Do the shopping
- Walk the dogs for them
- Visit them once a week or month for the next few months
- Teach someone to sew or knit
- Set up a Facebook page or account
- Research their family tree with them
- Run a race to raise funds for a charity that’s important to the person you’re giving it to
- Give or create memories
As well as giving photos or personalised calendars, mugs or t-towels, add some memories too.
- Write down the story behind the photo and put it on the back of the frame you give them
- Record (written or verbally) a story about an event or family member
- Create a memory board for a special event, with photos, tickets, menus etc
- Give an electronic photo frame and pre-load it with pictures
Create new memories
- Buy a day ticket to a theme park
- Buy family membership to the National Trust
- Go to a new city or town for a day trip
- Have a trip down the River Thames by boat
- A trip to the cinema
- Pay for piano or horse riding lessons
Gifts that keep on giving
If you don’t know what you want but there are lots of things you care about, isn’t it great for someone else to support a cause that’s important to you. Here are some other places you can get unique gifts from.
- Adopt a tree, flower or habitat with the Wildlife Trust , or in a Royal Park or plant a tree
- Centrepoint – gifts to help someone start a new life
- Sponsor an animal – Guide Dog Puppy, a tiger, lion, gorilla or Polar Bear
- Sponsor a child – World Vision, Action Aid or Plan
- WaterAid – give access to clean water
Other types of giving gifts
- Donate food to a local animal shelter
- Ask a local food bank or Church if they’re putting together Christmas dinner essentials for local families
- Give books to a local school
A Compost bin – It’s a gift that gives year after year, can save money buying bagged compost and it can give a lot of pleasure. There are lots of different sizes and styles of compost bin, you can also make your own. Dummies.com has a guide to the different styles of bin available, there is other advice online and you can ask friends for advice too. If you’re planning to buy a compost bin for someone, see if you can buy one for a lower price using the national Get Composting website or try Freecycle, Freegle or ebay for even more of a bargain.
Wormeries – Great for composting your food and giving you very nutrient rich compost and liquid fertiliser. For someone who has been composting for years this is a whole new experience and a bit of an adventure. Also good for small gardens that don’t produce green waste but need some compost for food grown in pots on patios etc as the liquid fertiliser is great for growing healthy plants. Wormeries are available through the Get Composting website in some areas, or search online.
Seeds and a growing plan – For someone who wants to start growing their own but isn’t sure where to start this could be a great gift to get them started and help build their confidence. Using your knowledge and expertise, or that of other friends and family you could put together a timetable, planting schedule and troubleshooting instructions to help someone grow their own next year.
A new taste or cooking experience – Everyone loves food but if you also love to cook and experimenting then you’re going to get a lot of enjoyment from a new experience. Putting together a starter kit for a new taste can be a great present. Whether you choose to include just the staple foods or some more unusual ingredients and possibly specialist cooking equipment too you might just get your loved one hooked on a new style of cuisine. Some ideas to get you started – a beginner’s pie making kit, curry from scratch or cake decorating toolkit.
Save a Spud, Slice or any other foods – We’re not talking about the latest high-tech juice maker or chef quality knives, for something a little different give gadgets that help make the most from food. If you’re following this challenge you’ll be familiar with the message Love Food Hate Waste and you can give others the ability to save money off their food bill for years to come.
- There are some rather gorgeous and fascinating food storage containers and jars available in lots of shapes, sizes and colours to go with every kitchen. Storing food can keep it fresh for weeks longer.
- Kitchen scales for a gadget fan, find appropriate portion sizes to avoid throwing away extra. They come in all sorts of designs and some are very hi-tech.
- Always remember what you need to buy at the shops, give a subscription to an online to make a list which can be linked to mobiles and computers – the shopping list will never be left at home again and anyone can pick up the items and remove them from the list to avoid bringing home far too many oranges!
Whether its things around your home being used again, giving someone the ability to do something again and again or finding a great object someone else doesn’t want but you know someone who’ll love it.
Buying second-hand – If it’s been a while since you had a browse in a charity shop you may find yourself surprised at the range of items you could buy and you donate to charity too.
Gift cards – As well as having no packaging, gift cards are great to re-use again and again. Check your purse/wallet to see if you’ve got any left from last year, get them re-charged with an amount of your choice and give them to someone who’ll shop there. If you’ve not got any used ones, buy a new one and suggest to the person you give it to that they could re-charge it and give it on next year.
Re-kindle love for something by giving it a new lease of life.
Most of us have something at home that we started doing and didn’t quite round to finishing, something we loved that has pieces missing or something we all mean to do but can’t find the time. Use your Christmas gift to give a helping hand, you could…
- Get a bicycle repaired and you could get it re-painted too
- Re-tune the piano
- Service the sewing machine
- Order the replacement part for the computer console or laptop
- Buy or make alternate playing pieces for Monopoly so you can play it again
It’s amazing what can be done with your rubbish and rubbish from lots of other places. There are purses made from juice cartons, clocks made from yoghurt pots, glasses and vases from recycled glass, bags from fire hoses and almost anything else you can think of. There’s something for every budget.
My WLWA Work Experience Blog – by Leila Gunnewicht
I came to West London Waste Authority (WLWA) for work experience as I am interested in pursuing a career within the sustainability and environment sector, and with university applications looming, I wanted to be certain this was something I was interested in so I spent a few days in August with the Waste Minimisation Team.…