Yes, this is me writing a blog post after announcing I was quitting the blogging scene a few months ago. I’m deceiving, I know.
But you know what, I just felt compelled.
Christmas is excessive: drink, food, electricity, paper, sellotape, plastic, stuff, stuff. and more stuff!
And I’m sure a lot of you have seen that our planet is being strangled by plastic & other useless sh*te, birds and sea life are swallowing excessive amounts of it and suffocating or dying a slow painful death because of it. Our seas are ravaged with waste, and plastic particles are being found in, well, everything (food, poo, stuff like that).
This Christmas let’s explore alternative gift ideas. Let’s avoid the bazillion bottles of bath and body products from Boots, the plastic kid’s toys and other wasteful and unsustainable products that we genuinely don’t need.
Here are my top picks for plastic-free, animal-friendly and green Christmas gifts:
CORK LEATHER BAGS FROM FORESTER PRODUCTS
Who? A local Donegal company made up of vegan couple Lana McGhee and Sean Forrester.
What? An innovative vegan fashion brand who create simple and classic leather style backpacks and weekender bags made from sustainable cork. The material is soft and smooth but sturdy. They come in a black and green but the range extends to vegan leather belts, watches and wallets.
How much? The trendy backpacks will set you back €130 so you’d need to give Santa some advance notice if this is what you want as your “big” present! Definitely worth it though as you’ll have it forever.
RAIN COATS FROM INSANE IN THE RAIN
Who? Environmentally conscious brand from England. Small independent company
What? Rain coats made from recycled plastic bottles in a variety of funky patterns and designs – and they do kids sizes!!!
How much? £95 for adults and £65 for kids.
I have one of these and found it perfect for both the Barcelona báistí (rain) and general everyday life in
It’s big and wide so you can fit your bulky winter jumpers underneath in Winter to keep the chill out as well as the rain.
What? Acquire some old second hand furniture from a charity shop or Donedeal.ie or, your own home, and do some DIY! Upcycling furniture can be a fun activity for the weekend that gets you relatively active but also developing a skill.
How much? It really just depends how much effort and materials you put into it. But, the finished product will be priceless as it will be custom-made by you!
SKINCARE FROM White Witch Connemara
Who? Irish company dedicated to zero-waste and seaweed.
What? Gloriously natural seaweed based face and body products from kelp exfoliators to moisturisers to face masks. This stuff is as pure as you’ll get and is 100% plant-based, like actual sea plants. I have the sea kelp exfoliator and it comes in the cutest little glass jar with a cork lid. It’s the dream beauty company.
How much? Not too much. On average around €22 per product.
SWIMSUIT FROM BATOKO
Who? Another independent English company – specializing in swimsuits
What? Only the coolest funkiest most unique and well-made swimsuits made from RECYCLED PLASTIC!!! #obsessed i have one of these and absolutely love it. It fits perfectly and was the best choice of swimwear for pretending to be a mermaid while diving through Croatian caves in the Adriatic.
How much? £40 which is probably around €45? I don’t follow currency markets so i can’t be sure but I am certain that whatever these cost they are so worth it.
SOAP FROM DONEGAL NATURAL SOAP COMPANY
Who? One Donegal woman who came up with a natural method of treating her son’s eczema – inspirational story. Read here.
What? Irish-made artisan soap products ranging from shampoo bars, hand soaps and loofah bars to essential oil hanging diffuser sets (cool car air freshener idea!). All ingredients are natural and don’t contain nasties like animal fat or palm oil. But just check the ingredients if you’re vegan as some contain goats milk and honey.
Actually hold on one second! Vegan friendly soaps are already categorised for us here: https://donegalnaturalsoap.ie/product-category/vegan-friendly/ Nice touch!
How much? Individual soaps can be around €4.50 but check out the gift sets to save.
KITCHEN ESSENTIALS FROM LITTLE GREEN SHOP
Who? Family-run Irish business specialising in low-waste household essentials.
What? Call me an oppressed 1950’s house wife but I like a clean kitchen and I like cleaning tools. I’m sorry 21st century women. If you’re not into that fair enough, but, for those who are and who want to have shiny kitchen counters without inhaling toxic fumes and going through 50 tonnes of plastic bottles every week (yes Hinchers I am referencing you): check out these green household products like loofahs for scrubbing dirt off stuff (shower walls/baths/pots/pans/fridges), glass straws, reusable kitchen towels, and even soap nuts! I know it might be weird to ask for this stuff for Christmas (so I’m told) but look, it’s your Santa letter. No-one else’s!
How much? A range of different prices that might seem high compared to the pound shops but you’re getting products that last longer, don’t harm the earth, and look nicer. Simples.
A HOLIDAY FROM RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL
Who? I am only after discovering this site and WOAW I am obsessed already. It’s all very fascinating, read about who they are here.
What? Holiday and adventure tours run by small and local tour operators in countries all over the world that explore areas off the beaten track in a responsible and respectful way, taking care of the environment around them and giving back to local communities. As opposed to your typical mass-tourism resorts like Barcelona, Thailand and Magaluf, where millions of foreign visitors are clogging up services and public transport, producing plastic waste, causing noise pollution, and making it really bloody difficult to walk down the road (first-hand experience).
The holidays run by Responsible Travel could be anything from a water sports adventure in Croatia to a tour of the Sahara in Morocco to tailor-made eco honeymoons.
How much? All holidays and tours are different prices but many are very affordable. I actually love the idea of going on a organised holiday where you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do each day – it’s all planned out for you. Ideal.
To avoid making this blog post too long for the internet here is a short bullet list of a few other handy Christmas gift ideas for the eco-minded:
- A leggings set from Girlfriend Collective. Unfortunately for us in the Republic they don’t deliver here so you’ll have to find yourself an address of a friend or relative across the border for delivery.
- An e-book. Entertainment minus the paper. I myself will be releasing a downloadable vegan transition plan in the coming weeks so look forward to that!
- If your based in Donegal check out these locally made keep cups by Cupán Cré (clay cup in English). I’ll be picking myself one up for sure. By far the coolest keep cups I’ve come across.
- A reusable water bottle. There are plenty brands out there now creating reusable water bottles such as the Chilly brand. I myself have a glass Flaska bottle and I use in daily. I love it.
- A handbag made from rubbish by Mother Erth. Seriously – I have one myself and it’s the funkiest beach bag I’ve ever had. It was made by disadvantaged women in the Philippines from sweet packets that can’t be recycled.
- Baby stuff from Earth Mother (complete coincidence that this comes after Mother Erth in the list!) On this site you can find eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives to the usual baby necessities.
I could go on for days. The above gifts or anything similar would be so much more interesting that your average gift set from the ever-polluting high-street retailers. Go the extra mile this Christmas and express your love by showing love to this fragile planet and her inhabitants.
Thanks for reading.