Gorgeous Green Xmas Gifts

 Environment Matters on Mix 92.6

I find choosing gifts that will be loved by the recipients but which don’t cost the earth, in either meaning of the phrase, very difficult. For myself, I love nothing better than someone paying to protect an acre of rainforest, plant a tree or help educate girls in developing countries – but charitable gifts don’t cut the mustard with everyone. So here are some suggestions for eco gifts that will suit all tastes. Thank you to all the brilliant Environment Matters listeners who shared these great ideas.

Sonya from Jefferson Crafts says that whilst adults are fine with gifts like charity donations, children still like something tangible to open. She went to a secondhand gift sale and found lots of really nice things in great condition that people were selling for a fraction of their shop price, some not even used! For Sonya, she always think the gift of time is the best one. She says that as a teen she used to make her parents little cheque books of things she would do for them – but she thinks this could equally work for new parents to give them the gift of babysitting or for friends the gift of gardening or cooking a meal. For children that aren’t yours, a day at the park with an ice cream or picnic lunch could work.

Mike has also thought about eco presents for kids. He suggests bird houses, insect houses, hedgehog and amphibian houses. Even if the recipient already has one, another will not go amiss. Mike suggests pairing them up with children’s spotter guides and a first set of binoculars for a lovely gift to help children enjoy wildlife.

Graham has homes for wildlife in mind too and says that he would definitely gift Swift boxes and Swift bricks – these fabulous birds are just holding on in Hertfordshire and need all the help we can give them.

Lee from Ember Designs says that he finds that experiences and gifts that have a lasting effect are always a massive hit. He suggests adopting an animal for which you get a welcome adoption pack to open on Christmas Day as well as regular updates throughout the year and depending on what/where you sponsor, there’s the excitement of visiting that animal which offers a year-round feel good factor. Plus, he points out, there’s the warming knowledge that you’re helping the parent charity along the way.

Local green councillor Juliet agrees, saying that her son loved the orca adoption she did through Whale Conservation for his birthday. 

Green belt campaigner Gee suggests a turtle tracking bracelet from Club Ocean – for £22 you get a pretty bead bracelet incorporating a little blue turtle and you’re also sent a QR code that enables you to track a turtle that is being protected with the proceeds from the bracelet.

Like me, Melanie likes the World Land Trust. You can listen back to the Environment Matters about their Operation Ocelot. They have a number of gift options including buying an acre of rainforest or helping employ local people as wildlife rangers.

Mike, who works at the St Albans Cycle Hub says St Albans Cycle Hub have gift cards which can be used for bike maintenance courses, bike services and things from the shop. He helpfully points out that they also stock reconditioned bikes which would make a fabulous gift for someone yet to get on 2 wheels.

If you’re buying a gift for someone who already loves getting around on a bike then Rona of the St Albans Cycle Campaign says that she’ll be sharing her love of cycling by buying bicycles from the All We Can extraordinarily gifts catalogue.

Nice simple one here – Juliet says that she always thinks seeds for growing are a lovely gift – and I agree. I bought all my sisters a pack of Cosmos Sweet Kisses for Xmas last year so we were all able to grow these easy plants and enjoy their pretty pink edged white flowers

Or Danielle, from the Cobbled Kitchen, suggests sharing the benefits of having plants in your house by giving houseplant babies, of course potted on in peat free compost. Then take a square of hessian or brown paper, bring it up around the pot and secure it with a ribbon and it makes a fabulous gift. A friend once gifted me a small rosemary plant that she’d grown from a cutting presented in this way and I loved it.

With so many of us enjoying taking our hot drinks out and about with us, Jo suggests a reusable drink cup/mug or – with saving water in mind on these cold winter nights, she suggests Wheatbags instead of hot water bottles. They come in all sorts of pretty finishes and, of course, never need filling with water.

Local author Chloe is very industrious and says that she and her husband like to make chutneys and jams with foraged items to give to our families. I love that idea – chutneys are always great to have with your Xmas meal or leftovers on Boxing Day and I think spending time picking berries and making preserves would be a lovely way to spend some time with a partner or friend before Xmas. Chloe written 2 beautiful books The Secret Life of Woodland Habitat and her new book, ‘The Secret Life of Birds of Prey’ which is about trials and tribulations of our UK birds of prey (including our local Peregrine Falcons on the Cathedral). Both are concerned with conservation and include stunning photography. 

For a bit of guilt free luxury, local author and TEDx star Judith says that she’s delighted with her purchase from Nearly New Cashmere  – all preloved cashmere items but refurbished and looking lovely. Ideal for a special gift.

Or for a local friend or relative, why not buy a gift voucher for the Odyssey Cinema and pop a date in the diary to share some fun time watching a film together.

And finally – the lovely volunteers at the St Albans Community Pantry say that they pack and deliver food aid boxes all year round, not just for Christmas, and need your help raising funds for fresh produce (which they do rescue from supermarkets but even so need more) … so they ask that please, as you start your festive shopping, consider a small donation to help those in need in your community. Only £5 will produce food boxes to support 15 local people in need for a week.  Another option is to donate to help support us provide Christmas meals in our community centres and gifts for local children.


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