Green your gifts
Not done your Christmas shopping yet? Or want to direct some merry gift-givers to your wishlist of green Christmas goodies. In part 2 of our Green your Christmas guide we take a look at some green gift ideas for greenies with a special interest.
DIY / GIY Enthusiast
Know that someone special who likes a project? Your Green-it-yourself enthusiast will leap at the opportunity to lower their eco-footprint themselves.
Geyser blankets and pipe insulation, CFL's, LED downlighters, low-flow showerheads & tap aerators would fill the stocking of the greenie comfortable with a shifting spanner. See the eco building and homes section of our directory for more details.
Low cost option? Gift a used tyre with instructions to turn it into a mini garden pond.
High end? Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panel and batteries. Or a home-sized wind turbine.
Hemp is still eco-chic and a more sustainable natural fibre than cotton as it requires no pesticides, herbicides and little fertiliser. Organic cotton is becoming more widely available in major retailers like Woolworths, and locally made items, vintage / retro upcycled clothes from markets or small producers are another eco-friendly option. If you're handy with an overlocker try upcycling your friend's jeans by not only repairing but adding your own creative flourish.
Low cost option? Unpick the jersey that Gran knitted and give a recycled yarn ball to the handcraft enthusiast.
Also check out Lunar and clothing and fashion listings in the directory. Supadog (will pimp-up your or someone else's jeans)
With growing your own food catching on bigtime in the suburbs there is now greater demand for edible gardens and eco garden products. Help kickstart someone's food gardening interest by buying them an edible garden setup by urban harvest, Living Green and others.
Organic seeds or heirloom seeds from Livingseeds are a welcome addition to the Christmas stocking and you can't go wrong with a lunar planting calendar, subscription to a gardening magazine or one of SA's green gardening books like Grow to Live or Jane's Delicious Garden. Waterwise Gardening (Ernst van Jaarsveld) and 50 Plants that changed the course of History are also recent local publications and A Year with James Wong (Grow your own Drugs) definitely makes my wishlist.
Reel gardening provides seed tape set at the correct spacing to make things easier for those still acquiring those green fingers.
Low cost option? If you have your own green fingers, cuttings of your favourite herbs or ground cover in a nice pot make a nice gift. Or make your own paper (or paper mache) bidegradable pots.
High end? An electric mulcher would not go amiss in my garden.
Health-nut / wellness guru
Buying for a green health nut can be tough, with the many things they eschew. So here are a couple of ideas that are sure to go down well.
A new blender or juicer - blenders are great for making healthy green smoothies that will help them feel great after a morning workout. A high-speed blender (+/- 1000 Watts) is a must have for those following the raw food way of life.
Yoga - A yoga course or retreat, or a subscription to Yoga Awakening will help rejuvenate body and mind. Beginners courses in other low environmental impact activities that also encourage mindfulness like Tai chi, Jogging (Run/Walk for Life) and Meditation could also make a considerate gift.
Healthy superfoods - a hamper of organic superfoods, such as Goji berries, Cacao, or Maca powder, or a nice selection of organic dried fruits (be sure that they are organic and not sulphured).
A hemp water bottle bag – these nifty carrier bags are available from Superfoods.
Rawlicious Cookbook – inspire your loved one with the delicious recipes in the Rawlicious cookbook.
Eco bodycare - look for organic, local and free of harmful chemicals. Local organic brands include Enchantrix, Esse, Rosa Organics, The Victorian Garden, Camphill Village, Ecoproducts baobab seed oil, Malikana, Pure Earth. To buy online try the excellent Faithful to Nature website.
South Africa has great local produce, specialty food shops and markets, so one of the best things to do is support local producers.
Wine. Buy some organic or sustainably produced wine. Look out for Fair Trade Wines and have a look at our list of great wines here.
Cheese. There are many great cheese producers including organic and goats' cheese producers. Why not fill a basket with a selection of great local cheese, along with some preserves such as green fig, or apricot chutney - perfect to haul out for snacks over the festive season.
Antique China. Antique shops or markets can be a source of reasonably priced antique china. Great food needs a great plate, and as you are not buying something new, you are not having a large environmental impact. Raiding Grans heirloom china may not go down too well though, you have been warned!
Chocolate There are few people who can resist good chocolate, so why not buy your foodie some organic or locally produced chocolate. Raw chocolate treats are another alternative (mint & cranberry - yumm!)
Cookbooks Not the most environmentally friendly option (unless printed on recycled paper or paper from sustainably harvested wood), but a lovely cookbook that focuses on local, seasonal produce is a great idea. What about Jane's Delicious Kitchen, or Harvest Diaries. From Seed to Table (with profits benefiting Abalimi Bezekhaya) is a must buy.
Bake something - now it may be intimidating cooking for a foodie, but if you can cook, why not give it ago, its the thought that counts!
Hot beverage junkie
For coffee aficionados try African Fair Trade brands like Bean There Coffee Company or newcomers Motherland Coffee.
Local teas like buchu, rooibos and honeybush are available in organic brands. Chai and mate are also an option from further afield.
Low cost option? Harvest your own pelargonium, lemon verbena and lavander and create your own 'erbal house blend.
There are some cool organic options for kids clothing. For parents: a great book of eco-friendly ideas to enjoy with your kids is 52 Ways to Grow Creative Children. For older kids The Green Shop has some eco-toys and projects.
Low cost option? A bundle of long poles (cleared alien vegetation) along with an old sheet will make a cool wigwam.
High end? An electric stand-on scooter.
Solar-powered chargers, wind-up radios & chargers, torches, water clocks, shower timers and more should keep the green gadget geek happy. See The Green Shop, Sustainable.co.za and others for gadget ideas. [urban sprout directory]
Low cost option? Shower timer
High end? Those solar panels again...
Armchair activists, book lovers and film buffs.
Look out for Activist! DVD's at Exclusive Book stores as well as health shops and other independent shops around Cape Town. Or order online.
By now your Gran has also seen An Inconvenient Truth so get her some other mind-expanding eco-documentaries.
Besides the books mentioned for Green Fingers, Foodies and Outdoor Lovers, these are also worth checking out and currently available:
Eating Animals - Jonathan Safran Foer
False Economy - Alan Beeattie
23 Things they don't tell you about Capitalism - Ha - Hoon Chang
Oil on Water
Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller - Jeff Rubin
Pandora's Seed - Spencer Wells
How 2 Help - Rebecca
Any gear that helps those you love foster their love for the great outdoors would be good. A light stainless steel (no aluminium or BPA) water bottle is a good idea.
Twitchers might like a good bird watching guide and those in Cape Town would appreciate a copy of Cape Peninsula Bird Life, which outlines the bird watching spots around CT. A Bird Calls audiobook is also an idea.
Give to a cause
A gift membership or donation to an eco-charity will not go amiss with the environmentally or socially conscious. Soil for Life, SEED, Abalimi Bhezekhaya, Trees and Food for Africa, Earthchild, Greenpop and many others are all doing uplifting work that benefit people and the environment.
There are also the established conservation-centred NGO's that could also do with your cash: Endangered Wildlife Trust, WWF, Wilderness Foundation, WESSA, SANCCOB, Save the Rhino
Membership of SANBI (free entrance to your local botanical garden) or Aquarium or local conservation organisation is also an idea.
A note on re-gifting
Passing off unwanted gifts as if they’re being bestowed for the first time might have been a 'no-no' for years but now is now more than a little fashionable. Giving gifts that have past lives is the epitome of green gifting. There is just one rule: don't get caught!
It's a wrap
I'm a fan of wrapping presents up in newspaper and tying them up with a bow that you've kept from a present received yourself. But my idea of eco-chic may be interpretted as eco-cheap in certain quarters...
For small items consider a klikety klik box made from recycled two-litre drink bottles.
Handmade paper or paper made from hemp are other options
Recycle your old wrapping paper (sprinkle with water and iron – it actually works!)
Use string, ribbon or wool instead of sticky tape, which is a bane for landfill