Exchanging gifts can be an exciting part of the festive season. What’s that under the Christmas Tree? The next iphone, new clothes or a box of treats? But are you buying something that will end up in landfill, be made redundant in a few years or, to steal a phrase, not be: ‘worth the carbon’?

Instead, why not change tack. Try making your presents sustainable this year and set the premise for a future of thoughtful gifts, both for the climate and for your loved ones. You could go a long way to making your Christmas more sustainable in giving the gift of carbon neutrality…

Trying out second hand…

Items are generally thrown away with little thought to their longevity, with fast fashion as one of the greatest culprits. An estimated two tonnes of clothing is bought each minute in the UK, with a shocking 92 million tonnes of all clothes end up in landfill every year worldwide. Cotton production is also incredibly water intensive with the clothing industry responsible for 20% wastewater production,  and the garment industry one of the major emitters of greenhouse gas emissions.

Change the tune this year by buying secondhand and avoid contributing to fast fashion and a throw away culture.

Sheffield is a goldmine for charity shops and vintage stores. Try out the vintage shops on West Street and Division Street for some pre-loved garments with an added splash of style, or the charity shops to grab a bargain and a lovely gift in two. Facebook marketplace and ebay are also alternatives for getting those second hand but first love presents whilst maintaining a sustainable Christmas. 

You can also combine skills – get that second hand item but maybe try dying those faded trousers or dedicate that second hand book to your loved one for the personal touch.

Repairing Old Favourites

Sometimes it also feels like the person you’re trying to buy for has everything they already want and you don’t want to buy more stuff that they may never use. But have any of their favourite items fallen into disrepair? 

Ripped clothes can be fixed, bikes can be repaired and instruments restrung for those age old presents.Try out your DIY skills by fixing broken items that otherwise would be replaced and give the gift of a favourite item. 

Channelling your creativity

Making presents requires a little bit of planning but can be really special. It can also be a personal gift from items you already have around the house. Baking, knitting and making gifts are simple ways to show your crafty prowess whilst tailoring the present to your loved one.

For example, experiment with a beginners beanie or scarf, with free knitting patterns and sustainably sourced wool available on the internet- wool and needles are available in all charity shops as well! 

Reusing the wood from pallets is another sustainable gift idea. With a hammer and a few screws you could make anything including bird tables, bug hotels, bookshelves… the list goes on.

The Sustainable Experience

Many gifts fall into the ‘use-once and throw away’ culture. Christmas jumpers, easily forgotten toys and boxes of chocolate with more plastic than chocolate. Giving the gift of an experience will create new memories and might just impart some new skills. 

Take a loved one on a festive walk with a picnic, buy a membership to a conservation charity, invest in the arts by getting theatre tickets or buy a course to learn a new skill. This thoughtful gift of your time or the imparting of a new experience is a good way to make a memorable present.

Reusable Gifts to Reduce Waste

If you are going to buy new, try to make sure your gift is either reusable and/or waste free. Check out the SU no waste shop for your reusable gifts and no waste toiletries! Other ideas include hot water bottles for that hygge feeling and look into socks you can return to be darned for the ultimate life long sock.

Plastic Free Wrapping Paper

Shiny wrapping paper covered in sellotape is non-recyclable. Why not try choosing recyclable paper and tape, or try the old retro brown paper and string, becoming a knot master. Else second hand scarves and tea towels can work as beautiful wrapping and an extra present!

Will you have a more sustinable christmas?

Whether it’s a one off or a new tradition, it’s rewarding to know that you have reduced the potential waste of Christmas whilst avoiding offloading waste onto others. Most importantly, you have not facilitated the bringing of new things into the world, whilst getting as good or even better gift!