The silly season is just weeks away, bringing with it a gift-hunting and Christmas shopping frenzy. This doesn’t mean your environmental and ethical conscience needs to go out the window, though. Jess Noble rounds up the best eco-friendly and fair trade presents around, for everyone from your nana to your furry friend.
It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year again. Kids are waiting impatiently to unwrap advent calendars and Christmas lights are being dusted off the world over. And those of us who weren’t organised enough to do our Christmas shopping ten months ago during the January sales are starting to think about who wants (or deserves) what this year.
While Christmas is the season of giving, it’s also the poster holiday for overconsumption and waste. The peak retail body in Australia, The Australian Retail Association, says Australians spent a record $45 billion plus in the six weeks leading up the big day. And according to RecycleWorks, households increase waste by 25 percent globally around the silly season.
Luckily for you ethical consumers and conscious shoppers, you don’t have to carry that guilt. There are tonnes of ethical and sustainable Australian brands and labels to boost your eco-karma and give back to Mother Nature this Christmas.
From eco-friendly socks for Dad, vegan lippy for Aunt Lorna, a recycled silver necklace for your BFF – and even some fair-trade toys for your furry friend – here is our pick of the best gift ideas for a conscious Christmas this year. The best part? They can all be bought online, so get clicking on the suggestions below and get your gifts sorted before the Christmas rush.
For the eco chick
Sustainable Sydney-based fashion designer Eva Cassis started her namesake label in 2012 in a bid to fight the fast fashion takeover. The organic white cotton dress pictured is from her new collection and can be ordered via email or the contact page on the website.
Sydney-based jeweller and eco-warrior Tanya Coelho started Zefyr Jewels in 2009 with a mission to create recycled, ethical jewellery that didn’t compromise on femininity and style. This necklace is made from 100 percent recycled sterling silver with rose-gold plating and also comes in silver or gold.
Mexican-born, Sydney-based Ere Perez is known for her natural, vegan and toxin-free makeup. This lipstick is made from rich olive oil, which gives extra conditioning and hydration.
Tonia Walker started IME in 2012. All natural and cruelty-free, the perfumes were all designed to change the way we feel and think with the power of scent. Buying someone the right fragrance can be a gamble, so this nine-piece sampler set solves that problem.
All of Eastern Weft’s products are made from natural materials like leaves, seeds and flowers. Founded by Samorn Sanixay and Kiasy Sopabmixay in Laos in 2004, it was initially started as a project for disadvantaged youth. A decade later the label still employs the same ethical principles. This cushion is made from hand woven hemp and beeswax.
EMC is an initiative that allows young women from the slums of India to receive job opportunities and training. Measuring approximately 1 x 1 metre, these saris are made from 100 percent raw materials and are fair trade certified.
For the eco dudes
We all know Dads love new socks. Who doesn’t? Sustainable and non-toxic, these socks are made from 79 percent bamboo (one of the most sustainable plants on the planet) and 21 percent spandex and elastin. As an added bonus, the bamboo has anti-odour qualities.
Socially and ecologically responsible brand Alas The Label was founded by Kelly Elkin and Betony Dircks in 2011. All garments are GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified and are manufactured in fair trade and sweatshop-free factories. This tee was dyed using formaldehyde-free inks.
Winner of the 2013 Australian Fairtrade Product of the year, the Etiko sneaker by Etiko footwear was the first non-food product to gain fair trade certification. Since the launch in Melbourne in 2005, the brand has helped fund more than 300 micro businesses in Pakistan and was listed as the Most Ethical Brand in the 2013 Australian Fashion Report.
For the eco kids
The perfect way to teach the kids about the importance of recycling in the home is to make their first home a recycled dolls house. Designed by German cartoonist Boris Schimanski, these easy-to-construct dollhouses can be painted and recycled again after use.
Enter your child into the world of cardboard construction with the Makedo starter kit. Makedo is a system of tools for creative cardboard construction for those creative kids with a conscience.
Every little boy (and girl) loves a football, whether they play in a team or not. This eco mini natural rubber ball by Tribes and Nations is perfect for an impromptu game in the park. The RREPP Eco Match and Eco Kids Sports Balls are the only dual certified Fairtrade and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) balls presently sold in Australia.
For your furry friend
The mission at Eco Paws is to ‘leave positive paw prints on our environment’. A percentage of proceeds is donated to assistance dogs Australia and all products have been carefully selected to ensure eco-friendly standards are met. This rope toy is made from 100 percent toxin- and chemical-free hemp.
Keep your best mate smelling fragrant as a rose with natural shampoos and conditioners made from organic ingredients and essential oils. There are ranges to treat conditions like dry or sensitive skin, and it’s all made in Australia. Essential Dog also donates to animal charities around Australia.
Lavish Tails has a simple mission: to bring Australian and New Zealand dog and cat owners the best in designer accessories. When they say ‘best’ they mean they only stock products that are eco-friendly and sustainable. This cat ball collection is made from recycled and repurposed materials.
Sustainable stocking fillers
And for a handy present when someone unexpected pops by, a hostess gift, or that hanging Santa stocking:
A Merry Christmas to all, especially Mother Nature!