Climate change sceptics excluded, we recognise that our environment is in very serious trouble indeed.
This has led to a change in buying habits for many people; whether it’s buying plastic-free goods for the home, such as bamboo toothbrushes and shampoo bars, changing energy suppliers to ones that only supply green energy, cycling or walking to work instead of driving or taking the train, or using biodegradable, chemical-free cleaning products. People are really doing their bit and every bit helps. This year in particular, I believe many people will be applying this approach in their Christmas present purchase decisions.
But what if someone on your list is keen to be as green as possible and you don’t know where to start. They will already have adapted their lifestyle to the point where a funky reusable coffee cup is not likely to make them jump for joy (although I’m sure they’d still appreciate it).
Whether you’re looking for gifts for your family members, or gifts to treat a special client, or to reward your staff here are some gift suggestions for you to consider.
- Planting a tree
However fundamental our grasp of deforestation is, we are all aware that more trees equals less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and more oxygen thus, in a small way, planting trees is a way of kicking back at the impact of the mass deforestation that has taken place over many decades. There are limitations in the effect of planting trees to save our environment, in that a sapling is unlikely to suck up enough carbon in its early years to make much difference; only mature trees really have any effect. Also, there is simply not enough land space to plant the number of trees needed to reverse the damage that has already been done. That said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to make a contribution by planting a tree. Perhaps you could give your eco-friendly friend a sapling of their own. Interestingly, the old favourite, the conker tree (Horse Chestnut) is a great tree for absorbing and storing CO2.
If space is an issue, you don’t have to land your loved one with a tree bigger than their garden can accommodate. The Woodland Trust gives you the opportunity to buy ‘trees for bees’. For just £10, you can help the Trust plant more trees and create future homes for wildlife in the UK. They even send you a certificate that you can personalise.
- Donating to a green charity
It may not sound like the kind of thing that will excite your loved one when sitting round the tree on Christmas morning, but your planet-friendly friend does not necessarily want lots of ‘stuff’. After all, consumerism and a surplus of objects that we don’t need and which then have to be disposed of, sooner or later, is part of the problem and reason we find ourselves in such a dire situation environmentally. So, it’s highly likely that knowing you have given your money to a charity that they believe in, will actually go down rather well.
There are so many charities and if you know what their favourite is, that’s the one to go for. If you’re not sure, think about what their chief reasons for caring about the environment are, and pick a charity accordingly. If they are concerned about the impact on wildlife, consider a donation to WWF, Born Free or similar. If deforestation is their bug bear, try something like the Rainforest Trust. And if you’re not entirely sure, Greenpeace is a good bet! The good part about this is you can donate what you would usually spend on a gift so the donation can be big or small enough to suit your budget.
- The gift of carbon dioxide removal
A Climeworks subscription is a unique proposition that anyone who wants to help reduce their impact on the planet will love!
Climeworks removes carbon dioxide directly from the air, which is then stored safely and permanently underground. What’s clever about this is that it removes historic CO2, i.e. the carbon dioxide that has been kicking around for some time and that needs to be removed to keep global warming under control.
Another clever aspect is its speed: within just five years from the date of purchase, CO2 is permanently removed from the air and stored underground – this is at least twice as fast as planting trees. And it differs from other methods through its permanence and safety: there is no risk of releasing the CO2 back into the atmosphere through burning, rotting, etc. This air-captured carbon dioxide is removed for good!
Climeworks works with big organisations, such as Stripe or Shopify, to help them remove their carbon footprint but it is also available to people like you and me – making it a great Christmas gift. For as little as €7 per month, 85kg of carbon dioxide can be removed from the air per year. That’s the equivalent of around four trees.
Together, as gifter and recipient, you’ll be making a difference in the world and helping to ensure this Christmas is truly climate-positive.
- Solar chargers and power banks
Our phones need charging, as do other portable devices, such as tablets and laptops. This means using electricity, of course. To be fair, charging a device actually uses relatively little electricity but all the small efforts that go into conserving electricity add up. So, another great gift idea is a solar charger or a solar power bank.
A solar charger, as you would expect, captures solar energy to charge your device and a solar power bank will store the energy from the sun for when you need it later. In addition to the environmental benefits, these little gems are both economical and great for people that are always forgetting to charge their devices and get caught short at the vital moment. They’re also invaluable for those who like to hike or camp, for example, but still want or need their tech when they are in the great outdoors.
There is a plethora of options on the market and the right one will depend on budget and purpose. For instance, you can get large ones that strap to a backpack or super-portable ones for people that need to travel light. It’s worth doing your research to find perfect one for your environmentalist. Try here for some ideas to get you started:
- Rainwater harvesting
Of all the things we consider as environmentally damaging, water waste is perhaps not one that springs to mind very quickly. But, in fact, the average household uses 150 litres of water a day and very little of that is used for drinking or cooking. Harvesting rainwater is not only environmentally responsible, it also promotes self-sufficiency and saves money! Rainwater harvesting can be as simple as having a water butt in your garden to collect rainwater for plants and lawns. It can also go further with filtering systems, meaning you can use rainwater for toilet flushing and bathing. If you want to spoil your favourite “greeny” with anything from a decorative water butt to a complete harvesting system, you can get plenty of inspiration from Celtic Sustainables:
- Gift experience
As mentioned, in a world already filled with material possessions, it’s unsurprising that gift experiences have become increasingly popular.
There are companies that arrange the whole experience for you, such as Red Letter Days and BuyAGift in the UK. Each has a huge selection of gift experiences to choose from, many of which will suit your environmentalist. For the nature lovers there are opportunities from rock climbing and zip lining to mountain biking and sailing. Or, if you think they’d prefer something more relaxing, there are glamping experiences and even the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in a tree house. The disadvantages of this are the cost and, more importantly for your recipient, the fact that they may have to travel some distance, which might negate some of the environmental advantages.
So, it might be worth doing a little more research and finding an experience local to them and getting a gift voucher. If they don’t automatically offer gift vouchers, most local businesses will come up with something. Think about what they would really like and buy accordingly, perhaps a slap-up meal at their local vegan restaurant or look into local courses in hedge laying or bee keeping.
Alternatively, give them an experience where they don’t even need to leave the house. Zero travel and you won’t have to worry whether the current situation will mean they can’t redeem their vouchers in time, due to travel restrictions. Airbnb is the perfect place to look for these experiences and some of these virtual experiences could rarely be achieved in real life. Your gift receipients can dive under the sea with a shark expert or go on a safari in South Africa. They could meditate with a Japanese Buddhist monk or even experience the Great Wall of China, all from the comfort of home!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liesbeth Deddens is from Climeworks. Climeworks empowers people to reverse climate change by permanently removing carbon dioxide from the air.
One of two things happens to the Climeworks air-captured carbon dioxide: either it is returned to earth, stored safely and permanently away for millions of years, or it is upcycled into climate-friendly products such as carbon-neutral fuels and materials, fertilizer for greenhouses or bubbles in your fizzy drinks. The Climeworks direct air capture technology runs exclusively on clean energy, and the modular CO2 collectors can be stacked to build machines of any size.
Founded by engineers Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, Climeworks strives to inspire 1 billion people to act now and remove carbon dioxide from the air.
Together we can build a climate-positive world. Join us!