Top sustainable Christmas gift ideas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. We get to spend time with family and friends and enjoy the warm sunny days (or cool winter days if you live in the northern hemisphere). But have you ever considered the waste that is produced at Christmas time?  

In Australia, waste increases approximately 30% over the Christmas period. A large proportion of this waste comes from packaging, wrapping and people throwing away unwanted gifts.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a myriad of sustainable gift options available for even the hardest to buy for person on your Christmas list.   

Keep reading for our top sustainable gift ideas.  

Charity gift  

Charity gifts are a wonderful option to really get you in the Christmas spirt, and there are a huge range of options to choose from.    

You can buy a well that will offer clean water to a family or community, farm animals like chickens and goats that will provide eggs and milk, and seeds to grow crops. You can support girls to go to school and buy school supplies. You can even save lives by purchasing immunisations and medical supplies.   

A quick internet search will identify a range of options so you can support causes that are close to your heart and are important to your family and friends.       


Rather than buying those in your life more stuff, why not gift them an experience they will never forget. Cooking classes for the food connoisseur, surfing lessons for your niece or nephew, a football membership for the diehard footy fan, or a theatre pass for your mum and dad.  

Experiences are an especially good option for the person on your Christmas list who already has everything.  Have a think about something they have always wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to… yet. 

Once you start thinking about it the options are endless – language classes, dance lessons, sky diving, a trip to a water park, sewing classes, concert tickets, woodworking workshop … 

Your time  

The people in our lives, the ones on our Christmas list, are usually our family and friends. They are people we like, people we enjoy being with, people we want to spend time with.   

In today’s time poor society catching up with friends and family can be a real treat. So why not gift your time to someone special in your life. You could go out for a lunch or dinner, go shopping, or go on a bush walk together. Whatever it is that you have in common, make some time to enjoy each other’s company.

Find out what they really want  

No reasonable person would throw their money in the rubbish bin, so it goes to reason you wouldn’t want to spend your money on a gift that will just be thrown away. If you are spending your hard-earned cash on gifts, why not ask the lucky recipient what they really want for Christmas.

Simply asking someone what they want can be very effective.  If asked, we can all usually identify a small list (or long list) of things we would like. By giving gifts people actually want or need we ensure that they will not end up in landfill by January.     

Sustainable gifts 

Choosing sustainable Christmas gifts is easier than you might think.   

Homemade goodies like cookies or rum balls are always popular at Christmas time or you could divide some plants from your garden and put them into a beautiful pot.   

Sustainable gifts like a reusable coffee cup or wax wraps are sure to be used again and again.  

Basically, when shopping for sustainable Christmas gifts apply the same sustainable lens you apply to your other shopping.  Choose products that are made from natural and sustainable materials and come with no packaging.      

And finally… Consider your wrapping 

In Australia we use 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper at Christmas – that is the equivalent of 50,000 trees. While simple paper based wrapping paper is recyclable, a lot of wrapping paper contains foil or plastic and can’t be recycled.  

Rather than wrapping your gifts in glossy wrapping paper that will end up in the bin, draw inspiration furoshiki. Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that is used to transport or carry things. The same approach can be used with scarfs, tea towels or even handkerchiefs. You simply wrap the gift in your chosen cloth, no wrapping paper needed.

Why we take action  

Christmas is a time for celebration, but this celebration shouldn’t be at the expense of the planet. Rather than contributing to the significant piles of waste that accumulate at Christmas, consider giving sustainable gifts to your family and friends.  If we all choose more sustainable options, we can significantly reduce the piles of rubbish that are sent to landfill every Christmas.         

How we can take action  

When doing your Christmas shopping this year:  

  • Choose no waste gift options like a charity gift or an experience they will never forget.  
  • Buy well made things that are made from natural and sustainable materials.  
  • Buy gifts that the recipient will love by asking them what they would like for Christmas.  
  • Use alternatives to wrapping paper, like wrapping in scarves or tea towels.  
  • Avoid buying gimmicky Christmas items that will only be thrown away.