Living and celebrating more consciously does not have to be a bore – in fact living lightly makes you feel happier and more in love with your life. You are using more of your power as an individual to live the way you really want to, and you can be proud of the changes you are making.

If you are not on the green wagon already, you better jump on soon! It’s going to start getting really embarrassing when friends come round and ask where your recycling is – excuses are getting older and older. And it’s just not cool to be ignorant.

Festive and Sustainable Décor

This year get your friends and family involved in your Christmas meal by asking everyone to contribute to the décor. This way you do not need to go out and buy a whole lot of expensive candles, decorations or serviettes and it is a great way to bring everyone together, to keep the droves of bodies entertained or keep your kids captivated. Some ideas for doing this:

  • Ask everyone or each family, to save one glass bottle that they would have otherwise recycled and then to decorate it into a candle holder. A simple piece of ribbon from last year’s gifts will look stunning, or they can use paint or beads.
  • Get a whole bunch of material, even if it is scraps, some wire and beads and ask everyone to cut out their own reusable serviettes. They could make the serviette holders or else you could do it and give them away to everyone as a gift.
  • Ask everyone to pick one or two indigenous flowers from their gardens and use this natural abundance to make your table look like it’s just fallen out of a magazine.

Green Gifts

Of course we would be delighted if you look no further than our wide array of organic and natural products to spoil your loved ones, but the ways that you can give more sustainably go even wider than our store. Here are a few things to think about when drawing up that list:

  • Buy local gifts. There is no shortage of markets on at this time of the world or shops across South Africa selling products and crafts made by our wonderful fellow countrymen. This way you reduce the carbon impact of buying goods that have been shipped from half way around the world and you boost the local economy that you live in.
  • Stay away from children’s presents that promote violence. This is no-brainer. Concious playing equals more conscious decision makers in the future.
  • Give battery-free gifts. According to the EPA (American Based), about 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually. Check out our solar & water powered gadgets and toys.
  • Buy gifts that are alive or have the potential to grow. Get really creative here and make your own veggie garden kit with some of our organic seeds and put these with a pair of gardening gloves, or a book on gardening. Herb gardens are also great gifts, as are trees. I for one would love to get a lemon; olive or avo tree for Christmas.
  • Give to others on behalf of your loved
    ones.
    There are no shortage of charities to choose from, starting
    with the two charities that we support: The Starfish Greathearts Foundation and Food & Trees for Africa.
  • Give services. Be it a pamperlicious foot massage or a gardening lesson, you are creating work in your local economy and no resource is being used to create the gift.
  • Antiques and second hand shops are full of treasures. And these treasures are just waiting to make their new owners happy. The possibility of special and unique gifts to give here are endless. For instance, a group of us went to the Milnerton market in Cape Town and brought a bunch of old but stunning brooches and found an old music jewellery box to give them to our friend Kate for her 30th. I don’t believe she could have imaged receiving a more special gift for that milestone.
  • Re-gift. If the gift is suitable for the recipient, we don’t even believe there is debate on whether this etiquette is appropriate. It’s a gift, and if it makes you smile to receive it, who cares if it was originally given to the wrong person.
  • Natural Gifts. Don’t forget about the treasures found out hiking – crystals, shells ect. These make very special gifts for those who appreciate them too.

Green Cards

There are so many ways to make your own cards, but if you must buy them, please check that they are local first. Some ideas to get those creative cogs turning:

  • Last year’s calendar probably has some great pictures that can be cut out and pasted onto new cards.
  • My personal favourite is to use photos to make cards. I don’t glue them on but prestic them on so that the receiver can frame the picture if they would like to.
  • Previous cards can be cut up and reused to create interesting designs.
  • Children’s art is also great to use to create unique and memorable cards. Find non-toxic art supplies here.
  • We’ve also got Growing Paper cards which are such a beautiful concept. The recipient can plant the card which is embedded with seeds, and flowers or herbs come up where the card was planted.

Sustainable Wrapping Paper

There are many ways to reduce the stress on our planet when it comes to finding fun ways to wrap and deliver gifts. I hope these pointers give you some ideas:

  • You could make the “wrapping paper” part of the gift by covering a box in pictures from a magazine and putting the gift in the box. The box can then be used for storage after the gift has been opened.
  • Choose locally handmade, recycled wrapping paper and support SA businesses.
  • Reuse wrapping paper from previous gifts.
  • Buy normal brown non-glossy paper that is easily recycled and draw designs on that, or even keep it as is and decorate it with dried flowers and shells.
  • All of the elements used to create the Faithful to Nature gift hampers can be re-used. We also offer a make your own hamper service.
  • Use newspaper from a day that is special in the receiver’s life. This one requires some forward planning, but you could keep papers of birthday dates from one year and then give them on the next.
  • Old scraps of material could be used to cover gifts beautifully.

Choose a Living Tree

Live trees not only smell like Christmas but are a renewable resource that contribute to our quality of life on this planet. Live trees are also usually locally sold and grown, saving on precious energy. Plastic trees on the other hand are made from petroleum products and use up resources in their manufacture and in their delivery. Discarded trees are then sent to landfills, and their plastic content means that they are around forever.

Some things to consider when choosing a live Christmas tree:

  • Buying a small live tree in a large pot means you will probably not have to replant the tree for 2-3 years.
  • But if you do get a bigger tree, do re-pot or replant it – just buy according to the space you have to replant it.
  • If you cannot replant the tree you could always give it away as a gift after Christmas to someone who can enjoy it.