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10 Last minute Eco-friendly Gifts

We have all been there. Christmas can be a busy time of year and I am always happy to have some last-minute gifts that I can give without having to go out to a store! So, here are some of my go-to last-minute gift ideas that are also great for the planet.

No need to get yourself overly stressed trying to find gifts and then feeling bad that you are doing something that goes against your values when you just get something for the sake of having a gift. Here are some easy solutions that have so many benefits. They are great for the planet because they are low-impact, they support small businesses, and they show others that we can do gifts sustainably.

1. Give an Eco-friendly Hobby

Ok, I have to admit, I am kind of in love with the idea of the meditative and tactile experience of spinning eco-friendly fibres. Spindle and Company is the brainchild of Kelly Mason, who lives in small-town rural Australia. Out of her own love of spinning and the slow and meditative qualities it brings, she has created this eco-friendly fibre and spinning business. Yes, like spinning yarn!

She offers an online course, a membership and even an eco-friendly fibre subscription box, everything for the crafter in your life or someone who likes to work with their hands and would appreciate the process of creating something from natural fibres and getting to dive into the source of the materials, the various methods of spinning and the meditative and calming aspects of an immersive pastime.

Besides, the videos alone are enough to make me get all zen-like and calm my often (who am I kidding, almost always) overly active mind!

2. Plant a tree

Well, you can have someone else plat it for you...I love "Tree Sisters", the environmental organization that works on reforestation in the tropics as a UK registered social change and reforestation charity. As they state, "Our approach is the balance of inner and outer, spiritual and practical, behavioural and ecological pathways towards that shift. This is a process of discovering how to engage, nourish, inspire and activate women into their unique gifts and generosity on behalf of themselves, each other and the forests that we love and need."

It acknowledges the role of women in leadership as healers of our relationship with the earth and as change-makers to reforest the land and in the process, provide for the future and for ourselves.

3. Can you gift inner calm? Maybe...

Well, we can give our loved ones the tools to help them meditate. There are great Apps, books and online resources to help us with our meditation practice. I only became regular with my meditation practice by using the App Headspace. Not only does it help me track my meditation, but I really feel that it taught me HOW to meditate.

I had tried before, I had taken workshops, ended up hyperventilating by focusing on my breath, I had started and then dropped out of an in-person course - it was too difficult to start with 30-minute sessions. I had to suppress the urge to either jump out of my chair and scream about all the work I could be doing or have a nap to catch up on the sleep that I really needed.

It seems that the gentle approach of starting with 3, 5, or 10-minute sessions was just what I needed, and the courses and daily bits of calming videos left me wanting more. Now it's a treat when I get to meditate for 20 minutes, but if I only have time for 5 or 10, that will do. Maybe a subscription to one of these Apps would benefit someone that you know and love.

4. Give social impact!

There are plenty of ways to make your recipient feel that they are part of positive change in this world. There are all kinds of organizations that do social impact work, creating positive change in our communities, promoting social justice, equity environmental justice. One of the ways to help someone feel particularly connected to this work is through supporting a project directly via Patreon.

Project WonderFULL is Sarah Coniglio's way of using her gifts of seeing the beauty and sharing it through her photography. She takes her patrons with her as she travels the globe sharing the sights of wildlife in national parks, adventures on the road, and the work of social impact organizations like the No Limits Cafe that employs people with intellectual disabilities.

This will make anyone feel like they are a part of something bigger, and gain perspective and hope every month with Sarah's photography and updates.

5. Protect an animal

When we focus on ourselves and our needs and wants the world is small, but when we focus on others and especially our animal brethren, the world becomes expansive and so full of caring. We can show that love and care across species boundaries by helping to free an animal held in cruel conditions, by supporting the work of World Animal Protection.

This global organization works to end the needless suffering of animals and seeks to influence decision-makers to put animal rights on the agenda all around the world. In this way, your donation can make a difference for an elephant across the world. It is empowering to think that by simply supporting a worthwhile cause we can make an impact.

6. Help a child fall in love with nature

 What greater gift is there than one that helps connect children with the natural world? How can they protect what they don't know and love? We can make simple and meaningful gifts of memberships to nature education centres, nature-based activities and camps, or simple at-home activities like a scavenger hunt.

I love the work of artist, environmental scientist and mum of 2 young children, Shantele Ianna. She sells Australian wildlife artwork with everything from whales to wombats, wildflowers to bees. She uses her love of the natural world and her background in science to help young children learn about and love the world around them. She has art prints, stickers and flashcards, as well as a free scavenger hunt for download.

7. Give nature a chance

Through your holiday donations, can you support one of the many worthwhile environmental organizations? Earth Island does great work, based in the U.S. it helps to foster engagement, especially among youth, supports activists, and legal challenges to protect wilderness spaces and species.

As they state, they, "are a fiscal sponsor to more than sevety-five projects working in the areas of conservation, energy and climate, women's environmental leadership, international Indigenous communities, sustainability and community resilience and more."

Other well-established environmental and social justice organizations that are worth your support include:

1% for the planet
World Wildlife Fund
Women’s Development and Environment Organization (WEDO)
Women for Wildlife
Gran to Gran
Environmental Working Group
Natural Resources Defense Council
Friends of the Earth
Earth Justice
Sierra Club
David Suzuki Foundation
One Girl Can
Dress for Success

Isn't it amazing to see so many great organizations doing this work?

8. Give cool low-waste living products

There are so many products out there that help us live low-waste lifestyles. Sometimes people just don't know that they exist or where to find them. If you have a local store that carries useful low-waste items like reusable sandwich bags, silicone or metal straws, shampoo bars, or silicone container lids, they can be very handy gifts for someone who is interested in living greener.

It at all possible try to support your local store or order from one as close as possible. And, I know that some of you might be thinking, "Isn't that expensive?" Not necessarily. Often you can get great prices when you source these items at your local hardware store, or at a crafter's market or a store dedicated to making these items available for the price-conscious consumer.

Here, I like to source locally, but if I can't find it locally, the Toronto-based Green and Frugal is a really great alternative. They get it. When it comes to packaging and shipping, they truly do go low-waste, and their prices are all about making these products available to everyone.

9. What about easy homemade bath products?

There are all kinds of DIY home-made bath and beauty products that you can make at home at the last minute and still feel like you are giving something special. Self-care is also good for the planet as long as keep our impacts low. I have a great recipe for a homemade sugar-scrub. No special ingredients required, just what you already have in your kitchen.

It makes for a great homemade gift, full of your energy and love, rather than the store-bought stuff. Just mix a big batch, scoop it into mason jars (or any empty glass jar), tie with string or a festive ribbon, and voila! Homemade magic!

Here is the super-easy sugar scrub that I like to make:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • few drops of essential oils (if you don't have any on hand, just use what you have in the pantry for baking - vanilla, peppermint or lemon extract would work great too!)

Mix and scoop into jars. Easy, and fun too!

10. Really, people who love you just want some TIME with you.

 

Really, this is potentially the biggest gift to our loved ones, and yet we spend so much time fretting about buying things, and here it is right in front of us. What this looks like in practice depends on the person, and your relationship, but spend a moment considering what you love doing together and see if you can make that happen.

Is it baking cookies together, sledding or hiking in the woods? Maybe it is a spa day at home, or going for a long walk under the stars. Maybe it is going out to the theatre or a concert together. Whatever it is, make sure that you wrap it in your joy and love of spending time with that person.

To me, this is the best eco-friendly gift. Thanks so much for spending some of your time here with me!

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