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What our favourite sustainability change-makers have on their list this year
It’s that time of year again – gift giving season – and off the back of the black Friday sales it can feel a bit overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be though, we’ve asked some of our favourite Australian climate focussed change-makers to share with us what they are giving their loved ones this year, with a few tips – like using tea towels as wrapping paper – thrown in. Happy conscious gifting!
“No one in my family is overly into “things” as weird as that seems. We would try to purchase for each other and often get it wrong and then we would all have these gifts (that we were super grateful for) but essentially, we didn’t really need or want,’’ she says.
“Other times we would ask each other what we wanted, and none of us could ever answer the question easily, and we realised we were almost forcing consumerism onto each other.”
So instead of her gift giving list, Kiera has shared what she will be buying herself over the holidays from the brands doing great things when it comes to sustainability.
I love the work Adidas is doing. I think they have this stat which is by 2025, 9 out of 10 of their products will be sustainable. They have this great ethos which is essentially – they don’t want you to throw out your old shoes – essentially because they want you to give them back so Adidas can create new ones. I love this concept so much.
I love the Melbourne fashion brand, HoMie. All profits go to supporting people affected by homelessness or hardship in Melbourne, which is a cause very close to my heart. Beyond this though, these two founders, Nick and Marcus have created a very cool street brand that people love.
I’m currently not drinking but that could change before Christmas, and every year I organise a game for my family where we do a blind wine tasting. It’s really fun, I buy six different wines, all different price points and from different parts of the world including Australia and everyone gets a scoring card, where they have to guess: grape variety, characteristics, cost, who made it and what year. Wine is a great opportunity to support small producers that often have more sustainable practices and more biodiversity on their vineyard and use less, or no pesticides.
Fallow wines is a small organic producer of natural wines in Healesville, Victoria. “To Fallow land” means to look after the land. They also share their facilities with other small wine makers – which adds to their beautiful concept.
Finally, I work in the beauty industry and have recently joined the MECCA team. My family does often receive beauty products as gifts throughout the year, I won’t lie! My gift of choice this year would be MECCA Cosmetica, To Save Face, SPF.
My mum is a big fan of ILIO NEMA (of course!). She loves unique pieces that she can wear and treasure season after season. The Castor Caftan is the prefect summer dress for her to slip on after a day by the pool or to wear hosting one of her famous Greek barbecues.
My boyfriend loves discovering unique, small batch wines but unfortunately they are challenging to find at a good price! That was until I discovered Good Will Wine which donates 50 per cent of profits to a charity of your choice. They have many great causes to choose from which always feels like the gift that keeps on giving.
My sister loves to swim laps in the pool. So I wanted to give her something lovely and spa-like for her skin at nighttime to get rid of the chlorine. I absolutely love Inika Organic. Not only are they Australian owned and non toxic, they also have a load of organic and natural certifications and are the first all natural make-up brand to be used at fashion weeks globally which is how I discovered them.
My cousin just turned 15 and is well entrenched into all things fashion (sounds like I rubbed off on her!). I’m buying her this cool boucle bucket hat from Lack of Colour. Like ILIO NEMA, Lack of Colour care deeply about the environment. Their products are designed and finished in Australia but they partner with artisans around the world who hand make the hats.
I guess it won’t be a secret after this article, but I was planning on gifting my business partner Ariane one of these handmade lamps from Pet Lamp. I haven’t quite decided on which one yet, there are so many beautiful ones to chose from! It’s a fabulously bold company who not only has a global community who create lampshades with the traditions of their communities (just like ILIO NEMA!) but they also up-cycle plastic to reduce waste.
We don’t do much in the way of extended family gifting at Christmas, so my Christmas gift shopping list is pretty much just the kids – Olive, 13, and Clancy, 8 and possibly something for my partner Shane (if he’s lucky!). Over the years, we’ve tried to adhere loosely to ‘the something to wear, something you need, something you want, something you need’ gift giving philosophy for the kids. Admittedly, it was a lot easier when they were younger.Santa tends to cover the “things you need” bases, like lunchboxes and underwear, so it’s up to Shane and I to come up with the fun gifts.
I’ve just ordered Clancy a subscription to National Geographic Kids magazine – a friend gifted my daughter a subscription a few years ago and it was much loved by all. Great, interesting content delivered in a terrific format that gets the kids engaged – plus, anything to inspire a deeper connection to nature is a good thing, right?!
There’ll always be at least one book for my kids at Christmas. We recently bought the Guinness Book of World Records 2023 for a friend, and Clancy was so taken with it (so many funny people doing strange things out there!), that he popped it on his Christmas wishlist.
We’ve gotten back into playing family board games a little lately (an attempt to drag the teen out of her room, and I will admit, at times there’s been monetary prizes involved to pique her interest!). I’ve been looking for something as engaging & quick as Uno. My extended family recommended Sleeping Queens or Skip.Bo
Last year the whole family received tennis racquets; this year it’s snorkels! Bring on Summer!
This last one is for me. I’ve been a good girl all year, pretty sure I couldn’t possibly be on the naughty list … any chance I’ll find this under the tree Christmas morning?
Haus of Dizzy is a bold brand created by proud Wiradjuri woman Kristy Dickinson. She handmakes playful, statement jewellery that celebrates and honours Indigenous culture— and brings joy to everybody who wears it. I’ve already added a couple of funky earrings to my cart (and an extra pair for me) for a few of my friends who love to make a positive social impact.
When I had a newborn my friends gave me a voucher from Dinner Ladies to make life a little easier. The story of how they started from humble beginnings is so endearing. The Dinner Ladies have sustainability on top of mind – from how they power their warehouses with solar energy and the packaging they use to the food they source. I’m paying it forward this Christmas by gifting Dinner Ladies to my busy working parents this year.
I remember as a kid flicking through the local paper looking out for garage sales to visit on the weekend. Sometimes you’d find that special vintage ornament, silk scarf or that picnic table you never knew you needed. Sometimes you don’t find anything at all, and that’s OK because it’s the experience of going on a hunt and connecting with neighbours you wouldn’t normally talk to.
Tea makes a wonderful gift, but not all are treated equally. There are a lot of brands out there that have artificial flavouring and are not ethically sourced. I love the English Tea Shop, which is all organic and sustainably sourced. Its supply chain is traceable, which means you know they are serious about social impact. I’ve purchased a few packs for the school teachers and my in-laws. My personal fave is Earl Grey Tea.
Moo Goo is an Australian natural skincare brand for the whole family — fur babies included. Moo Goo has adorable gift packs, making it the perfect introduction for anyone curious to try.
I’m just generally obsessed with the Foile brand because they are really reimagining the way skincare is produced and consumed. All bottles are refillable and beautiful and this is one of my favourite products. I’ll be giving it to friends who are into skincare this Christmas (Note – Converving Beauty is another amazing up-and-coming Australian skincare brand that I’ll also be gifting friends).
Go-To has released this bundle that includes some of their best products. I’ll be purchasing a few of these to give to colleagues and my sister – a great bulletproof gift for the women in your life who love a bit of self-care. I’m excited to see that Go-To is transitioning its products to post-consumer recycled plastic.
For family members who live overseas, this is a beautiful book full of photos of Australia’s best beaches, pools and waterfalls. It covers the breadth of Australia and is a great read (and perfect as a coffee table book!). It’s by Dillon Seitchik-Reardon, who is an environmental scientist and photographer. I’m a big book gifter at Christmas time….so the list of books I’ll be buying could be a separate list!
Everything on this website would be perfect for the political and ABC nerds in your family. Think Leigh Sales and Laura Tingle mugs, and sweatshirts featuring some of our favourite women in Parliament. It’s my go-to every year (especially for grandparents).
Show your loved ones you care with a really rubbish gift. For every $100 raised, they’ll remove 1,500 water bottles worth of rubbish from the planet. Bundle’s start from $20.00
The debut book from Alec Leach (former fashion editor for streetwear publication Highsnobiety and founder of sustainable fashion platform @future__dust) is a manifesto / roadmap / journey toward a better relationship with fashion.
Speaking of a slower, more intentional approach to fashion. I’m a big fan of circular fashion platform The Harmonic and their carefully curated collections of pre-loved, ethical Australian and New Zealand-owned labels. I usually grab a gift card so the lucky recipient can choose the perfect piece for themselves.
What better gift can you give than optimism? Saul Griffith’s latest book, The Big Switch, provides an optimistic-but-feasible blueprint for fighting climate changes while creating millions of new jobs and a healthier environment. But most importantly he clearly outlines how we, as individuals, can be part of the solution (and save money) by just making simple switches around our household.
Finally, just a reminder to #CutTheWrap. A few years back we launched a campaign to raise awareness of how problematic gift wrap is, while suggesting some more environmentally friendly (and fun!) alternatives.
I can’t believe I didn’t know this sooner but baking paper cannot be recycled! These reusable baking mats make the perfect gift for the head chef (or wannabe chef!). They’re non-stick, easy to clean and may or may not make your food taste even better!
Composting doesn’t have to be ugly, gross and smelly! This kitchen compost bin looks great and makes composting something you want to talk about, not hide under your sink.
This is the present I wish I could get myself, sigh apartment life. Native bees are stingless and great for your garden and neighbourhood. Plus one of the best things about native bees is that they pretty much look after themselves so you don’t need to suit up.
One of my favourite sustainable swaps to date is one that I never really thought of! Switching from plastic to stainless steel pegs. This hanger is one of my favourites as it won’t rust, holds so many different bits and bobs and will last a lifetime!
As you can tell by now I am all for a practical present. Australians use more than 150,000 km of wrapping paper each year! Instead, I am wrapping my presents with these hemp tea towels, plus they are more absorbent and dry faster than cotton or linen tea towels.
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