It’s that time of year again, when advertisements start popping up encouraging you to buy the new, most popular toy for your small ones or the latest nifty time-saving gadget for your loved one. It all begins with the ‘Black Friday’ or ‘Singles’ Day Sales’, when consumerism is at its absolute peak and any consideration of the impacts our purchases have, become inadvertently ignored.
Despite the mass over consumption that occurs at this time of year, we realise the importance and joy of gift giving and recognising those who have worked hard for us during the year, friends and family who have supported us, and of course the excitement and wonder of children as they enter this magical time of the year.
At Go Well we very much endorse the gifting of experiences or time as these have the least emissions and resource use, and provide valuable connections with others. From dinner and a show in the city, to surf and stand up paddle boarding around our coastlines. We recommend helping someone tick something off their bucket list or booking in to do something with a friend. Help Auntie Margaret mow her lawns, or cook a friend a meal.
Experience gifts are also a wonderful way of encouraging gifting children learning or skill based activities like swimming lessons, music classes or a day trip to a local museum.
Despite our preference for gifting experiences we can’t deny , there is a place for gifting things, we just believe it shouldn’t be at the cost of exploiting other people or our natural world. So, with a myriad of incredible local businesses out there who share this belief, we thought it might be useful to outline some of the exciting and conscious ‘things’ before you are drawn into any festive buying sprees.
Not that we want to be alarmist but remember that aside from the brightly coloured plastic toy or the bargain t-shirt ending up in a landfill, it may well have been made by a child younger than the one you are gifting it to.
So let’s remember, every dollar you spend is a vote for the world you want for yourself and for future generations to live in.
The businesses below are simply ones we admire, this is not sponsored content.
Gifts that Last (and last and last)
Consider brands that can stand the test of time. With a focus on ‘repair not replace’ ethos, Blunt umbrellas are designed to be fully repaired rather than thrown away like most other versions. And no, it’s not a ‘boring old umbrella’! This company collaborates with people from fashion icon Karen Walker, to the legendary Forest & Bird to the bold illustrator Ellen Porteus. These brollies are an excellent and practical gift that is built to last.
Wishbone Design are a business that make our hearts sing. Stating ‘we are proudly anti-consumption, applying Circular Economy principles for the next generation’ on their website, this is a great option if you do decide to buy new (they also hold their value when selling second hand). Designed in New Zealand, Wishbone bikes are modular bikes designed to grow with your child from babies to preschoolers, starting with 3 wheels and transforming to 2 when the time is right. Fully repairable, with parts available for replacement, these guys are really sticking to their guns when they say ‘make repairs or dive into a refurb then re-gift’.
Buy Second Hand
Presents don’t need to be brand new! This is by no means a revolutionary statement but needs to be normalised. There is no better way to support a circular economy and keeping products and materials in circulation, than buying second hand. If you know of a brand someone loves or a toy that someone wants desperately, head to Trade Me, Facebook Marketplace, search for Pre-loved instagram accounts, or check out your local second hand store and have a hunt. You’ll be amazed at what is out there and the deals you can find. Of course you’ll also be doing yourself and everyone else a favour by reducing packaging and keeping a product circulating through our economy.
People are never prouder than when they plonk something on the table and exclaim ‘I grew this…’ so Urban Bounty have come up with a range of ‘living’ gifts. From edible goods like herbs, spices and fruit trees to fermentation kits (perhaps for those with smaller spaces). We love the idea of people connecting with living things. In a world that desperately needs more plants in the ground, we need more people with the capability to do this. Never forget, ‘learning a new skill’ is often on peoples New Year resolution list, so help them along with a new sprout kit!
Give the gift that grows with a native tree or two. The benefits provided by our native trees are extensive; from increasing biodiversity, to cleaning our waterways and absorbing carbon dioxide. Native trees aren’t like gold, they are gold. Trees that Count have multiple options when it comes to native tree gifting as part of a wider planting project. This would be a great collective gift and will assist with helping the work being done to restore New Zealand’s unique and beautiful biodiversity.
These guys need no introduction – if you haven’t heard of Allbirds and the work they are doing to lead the footwear industry towards a zero-carbon future, then you might have feathers in your ears! This business takes carbon reduction seriously and released their Allbirds Flight Plan last year committing to cutting their carbon footprint in half by the end of 2025 and reducing it to near zero by 2030. This dedication to doing shoes differently has already had profound impact on and industry that desperately needs it. It’s not summer without a pair of jandals on the tootsies so check out the Sugar Zeffers for minimum impact, maximum style and comfort.
One for the little (or big) kids out there. Eco Splat are reusable water balloons that allows all the fun that comes with original water balloons, without the plastic. Each EcoSplat reusable water balloon replaces more than 3,000 single-use water balloons. Dunk, throw and repeat over and over again and the best part? No one needs to collect the broken bits of plastic afterwards. A reusable toy that eliminates the ways of our old polluting selves. Because no one wants to teach a kid to pollute, right? It’s a win-win in our eyes.
Candles are a hugely popular gift and we know why; they smell good, look good and are long lasting! So why not gift one that can be used over and over again. We really like admire Poet Botanicals who are tackling packaging waste by offering a refillery service for their clean-burning coconut wax candles which are scented with therapeutic grade essential oils. Lush! With no nasties and the ability to use a vessel you already have at home to fill, this business is ticking all the boxes.
Wine gifts are often well received, but this wine comes with a decent helping of goodwill. 27 Seconds wine was born as a result of the founders first hand experience of modern slavery. The name is a direct outtake from the fact that an estimated 1.2million children are trafficked or sold into slavery each year which works out to be one every 27 seconds.
Gift a drink that doesn’t make your conscience wobble. 100% of the profit of this wine goes towards helping survivors of slavery.
There’s nothing better than the gift of charity. Giving to those in need is not only feel-good, it’s doing-good too. Enter the ‘Good’ registry, a social enterprise with a social-good purpose at heart. Their Good gift cards are electronic and the recipient can use their card to donate to one of 65 charity partners via the website which includes a range of charities supporting animals, kids and well-being.
As we know, our beloved Kiwi bird represents us as a country and our people and we must help to treasure and protect this iconic animal. Few New Zealanders have seen a kiwi in the wild and this charitable trust is striving to preserve our natural environment for the Western Brown Kiwi to grow their population. So far there are 13,000 hectares now home for a thriving population of kiwi. Give our littlest mates a helping hand to conserve more of their natural habitat by checking out the East Taranaki Environmental Collective.
This gift is great for the sweet tooth foodies, is reasonably quick and inexpensive to make and the benefit is that you can make multiple gifts in one hit. The key ingredient here is…organisation. Grab some jars (we all have ones at the back of the pantry) and the necessary ingredients (from your local refillery!) and you are good to go. The Kiwi Country Girl has a recipe for layered cookie jars that are perfect for kids and adults alike. The jars are assembled by layering ingredients one by one which means the chef only needs to pour into a mixing bowl with their own wet ingredients when they are ready to cook them. You could do this with any of your favourite recipes and can be decorated as you wish.
The team at Little Koha have built their business based on gratitude, appreciation and kindness and select to use products by businesses with similar values who are working hard to improve their own carbon footprint. They have curated a selection of goodies in boxes and have a range of sizes and prices to suit. Themes vary from coffee lovers to foodies to home bodies, this company focuses on the experience and emotions of giving as much as the contents themselves.
We Love Local is a sustainable gifting ‘eco-system’ and was born out of a love for all things small, thoughtful and sustainable. With local business, community and collaboration at the core of their ethos these artisan gift boxes really are a treat. The boxes contain goods from 60+ artisan producers and are full of delicious, hand selected goods perfect for Christmas or any other time of the year. Not only do their business give 1% of every purchase to a New Zealand charity as part of the One Percent Collective but all of their wooden boxes are made in a community space providing opportunities for people with disabilities. We are big fans of their work.
So there we go! This is by no means an exhaustive list. We have so many incredible companies out there who are really making an impact by reducing resource use and their carbon footprint, and utilising existing materials. Just remember, an additional 30% of waste is produced and discarded throughout the Christmas holiday season in comparison with the rest of the year. This ‘waste’ will measure somewhere in the vicinity of 3 million tonnes which is the equivalent of 600,000 5kg Christmas turkeys.
We can do better. Challenge yourself! Before buying this festive season, do some ground work. Careful thought and consideration can have a massive effect on the impacts this Christmas has on our people and our environment and we guarantee you’ll feel better about what you gift if you ask yourself; Where has it come from? And where will it go?
Let’s drive some support towards the impactful businesses mentioned (and the many others out there) and have a happier, lighter and cleaner Christmas period (and conscience) this year.
Be honest, you can already feel a weight taken off your shoulders.
Happy gift giving!
Charlotte Mundell – Content and Program Manager, Go Well Consulting