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With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re all racing to buy up gifts for last-minute Secret Santa gift exchanges or even your family members.
But while it might be a lot easier to buy simple gifts, what about that one friend of yours who is always very eco-conscious and quick to point out the environmental damages of online shopping and consumerism?
Or the one who will staunchly say no to material goods and insist on keeping their life minimalist and clutter-free?
In fact, it could actually be even easier to buy completely eco-friendly and zero-waste gifts for them: you just simply need to think outside of the box a little.
1. Edible stuff
The easiest and probably most “eco-friendly” gift are edible goods. They don’t contribute to clutter in your giftee’s home, and it could be easily shared with their own family or friends.
If you really want to be truly zero-waste, a fruit basket is the best bet. Pick up a rattan or wooden basket, and fill it up with delicious fresh fruits. Try not to use any clingwrap if possible, instead opting for furoshiki cloth or simple brown paper.
If you want something that will last a little longer than foodstuffs, consider gifts of experiences, such as tickets to their favourite theme park, movie, restaurant, or more.
It’s been a while since anyone has had the luxury of enjoying these fun outings, so why not gift them the fun day in the sun that they will cherish with unforgettable memories?
It’s a lot harder to make an intangible gift seem impressive, but you could easily fashion a card in the shape of an old-style ticket stub to really lean in to the theme, or print out the tickets in advance. (But do make sure your friend would be free that day!)
Not only is this gift eco-friendly and zero-waste, it had the added bonus of actually being a happy addition to your friend’s home.
Plus, if you already have existing plants, it’s quite easy to grow a small cutting for a flowering tree, otherwise you could easily buy a pretty plant already in bloom at nurseries.
The only thing to consider with gifting plants is to choose plants that are beginner-friendly and easy to care for, unless you know that they are well-versed in taking care of plants.
4. Gift cards
Gift cards are not as common in Malaysia as they are in other countries, and oftentimes people might find it crass or thoughtless to merely gift “money”.
However, if your friend has a particular love for a brand or store that does offer gift cards, rest assured that at least your giftee will be able to get something they really, truly want.
5. Just ask!
The best way to ensure that your gift doesn’t end up in the back of a closet is to simply ask your friend for their wishlist.
That way, you will know exactly what they want, down to specifics like colour, and they are perfectly satisfied with your gift. Win-win!
A tip to avoid excess waste
One of the biggest wastes during the festive season is actually gift wrap.
While festive decorations can be reused year after year, gift wrap is usually only used once then torn apart without the chance of being reused.
Hence, if you’re looking for an alternative to gift wrap, try something like the furoshiki cloth, which is basically pretty cloth used to wrap your gift in lieu of paper.
While in true furoshiki culture, the cloth is returned to the gifter, furoshiki cloth is quite easy to buy and rather cheap, so you won’t even have to feel too bad about gifting it as part of your gift!
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.