Oi co founder Bridget’s insights to a happy stress free Christmas for everyone. Just before you get lost in a haze of late night shopping and trawling the internet for bargains. Take a step back and a deep breath and think about what Christmas really means to you, how do you want Christmas to be? What really makes you a happy and what do you really need? Includes 8 environmentally sound Christmas ideas.
We all need to factor in sustainability, it’s no longer a hippy or greenie thing to do, it’s essential for everyone. It’s important to understand that we vote with our dollar, every time we make a purchase we are saying YES and giving a great big TICK to the company or country where the goods have been produced. If the goods we have chosen to purchase are made offshore it’s important that we know a little bit about how and where these goods were made and by whom.
The UN estimates that there is approximately 30 million slaves in the world today and 9 million of them are children, so it’s important to consider: Have the workers been paid fairly for their efforts, is the manufacturing process sustainable, are human rights or environmental practices a factor, were any children involved in the process and was there forced labour or slavery?
Unfortunately this is the reality for millions of people in developing countries where modern day
slavery still exists, we need to consider this and the implications of our purchasing power. Does our desire for a particular product outweigh the basic desire for human need, needs such as safe housing, clean drinking water, food, medical attention, a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
Cheap products may seem like a good idea and of course it is a factor for many families but ask
yourself this: Why are they so cheap? Who is making this stuff, who is missing out? It unfortunately comes down to more than just corporate buying power. Whenever possible, try to purchase locally, it’s a great way of supporting home-grown initiatives, producers and manufactures, and its keeps people employed. Many of the things we buy are plastic and as we are all slowly becoming aware, plastic never ever breaks down!
Before you buy, ask yourself a few simple questions. Do I really need this? Is it recyclable? What is the impact on landfill and the environment? What are the social implications of this purchase?
Here are some sustainable and wonderful Christmas gift ideas that everyone can enjoy. Gifts that are not only useful but pleasing for the receiver, environmentally sound, sustainable and recyclable/biodegradable. This is a win win situation, all the way around.
This Christmas, why not make wise choices with your gift giving and think carefully about how you are going to celebrate; in a thoughtful and meaningful way.
1) Use the fabulous compost you made earlier this year (or buy some if you need to) plant up some cute non plastic pots, reuse old metal cans or glass jars. Paint the outside in bright colours or glue on some funky decals, be creative.Plant herbs that can be used not only as insect repellents at your door or window, but edibles too. Basil, Thyme, Sage, Mint and Parsley are great ideas. Give an assortment of potted herbs or vegetables that can create a whole garden.
2) Grow your own vegies, make a veggie box; relish, pickle or other fantastic condiments like sauerkraut (a wonderful probiotic which is so easy to make is an excellent gift for families). Give a tree, citrus are always good or any other edible fruit trees are useful and a welcomed addition to any garden, they provide food, shade and clean air. What a gift!
3) Put on your baking hat and whip up some batches of festive biscuits such as shortbread or gingerbread, they are simple and look wonderful when either gift wrapped or popped in a cute recycled jar or tin from the op-shop.
4) Make your own skin creams and package them in recycled boxes or bottles, homemade labels are very cool. How? Use recycled attractive bottles to fill with Apple Cider Vinegar or a good quality olive oil, add a sprig of Rosemary, Sage or Tarragon and voila, herb vinegar and herb oil.
5) Buy metres of organic cotton and make simple Tee shirts, or scarves. Play with clay or natural vegetable dyes - go wild.
6) Our time and help is incredibly valuable and precious. Instead of always being too busy, schedule in gift giving time and devote yourself to some beautiful acts of service. This could be helping someone with some housework, or in their garden, making time for a chat on the phone or popping over with an extra meal or two for the freezer. This is a truly wonderful gift for elderly relatives, friends that are busy or under a lot of stress or pressure; a new mum, a grieving family, someone who is convalescing or in a difficult spot, or even your own family or neighbour!
7) Volunteer at the Salvation Army (or similar) Christmas Dinner, this is an amazing thing to do and every family should do it at least once in their life, it is a wonderful learning experience for children.
8) Several charities organise the supply of needed aid resources overseas by choosing a "gift" (i.e. school books, seeds, a goat, clean drinking water). Your money goes to purchase the gift, it is then delivered to the people and places that need it most and the person you have purchased the gift for gets a card to let them know they have sent a gift to someone in need in a developing country.
Try organisations such as www.worldvision.org.nz or www.oxfam.org.nz both are amazing groups. Ecologically sound and environmentally oriented online gifts are available: Try New Internationalist Shop www.newint.org/shop/nz/. A not for profit organisation which aims for social justice for all and sells products from its shop to supports this. Their catalogue contains educational books, calendars, diaries, greeting cards as well as some organic cotton clothing
Organise a whole house recycling and reusing programme, aim for zero waste at the gate! Try not buying unnecessary consumables for a whole year (toys included) just to see if you can, get your whole family involved
MAKE A COMPOST HEAP!! Use all your biodegradable household waste, and turn it into black gold so you can grow your own vegies, fruit trees and flowers. Build a Vegie garden, plant your vegies and eat them. Get a worm farm or some chooks. Teach your children to care for Mother Earth, how to recognise and use medicinal weeds, the future lies in their hands as well as ours, food is our medicine, let’s keep it that way. Relax, de-stress and take time to connect, earth and invite joy and ease back into your life.
A merry wonderful Christmas to you all,