Christmas is generally a time of mass consumerism and gluttony. The NZ retail spend in December 2015 was $5.49 billion. Let’s just think about that for a minute, the 2015 NZ population was 4.596 million - that’s about $1194 NZD for every person including babies and children in NZ. And how many of the population could not even afford $100 let alone $1000 on each person in their family? Financial outlay aside, let’s think about the environmental impact on the world from spending $5.5 billion - how many of those gifts were made of and or wrapped in plastic? How far did they have to travel? How long were they used for? Where do they end up?
A few things you can consider this Christmas to make it a beautiful, kind, ethical and conscious occasion for planet and people:
- Making or buying reusable fabric gift bags
- Limiting the amount of gifts you buy your children and focus on experiences and being present with them
- A lovely wee poem to guide this is “something they want, something they need, something they wear and something they read”
- Creating a ‘Reverse Advent Calendar’ with your children - every day from December 1st they either put a toy they don’t play with or an item of food into a box and on Christmas Eve you all take it to the local mission, op shop or food bank
- Do a ‘Kindness Advent Calendar’ with your children - this is a good guide but you can come up with your own one in your family (http://www.kidspot.com.au/things-to-do/activities/christmas-crafts/kindness-advent-calendar-to-print-for-christmas/news-story/1b70a2ee3ef023b4f5331602cbe2b763)
- Upcycling, repurposing, making Christmas gifts
- Giving reusable gifts such as stainless steel straws, coffee cups and snack or lunch bags
- Create your own family traditions - you may not want to uphold or continue the Santa myth - it can be very difficult to explain to your children why Santa brings some children 50 expensive presents ($1194 worth) and then brings other children very few inexpensive presents. Due to the all-encompassing nature of Santa, a friend of mine came up with a great solution due to being asked by her children about Santa and why he did not visit them. She tells her children that it is a game that some families play and that they need to play along to keep the game going for those children and not spoil it. But they (her children) know that it is pretend and not real.
We have put together this ethical gift guide to try and lighten the impact on the environment while being able to gift beautiful and thoughtful presents for the whole family.
SIlvercap Dolls are exquisitely made, waldorf inspired dolls that are produced by hand with natural materials. You can ask to have a doll made to your specific requirements too so that you can get a doll that looks like your child or niece or nephew. Watch their eyes bug out when they unwrap one of these rad wonders for Christmas.
Freedom Kids is the home of fun, ethical and gender-neutral clothing. All the colours and all the clothes for every body! We try to deal only with small businesses: many of our labels are just one person: the designer, the creator and the seller all rolled into one (aka superpeople). All the clothing we stock is ethically made, gender neutral and allows children to play freely. You will find beautiful, colourful and joyful clothing here to buy as gifts that kids want to wear!
ReCreate clothing is ethically produced in their sewing training and production centre in Cambodia. As a New Zealand Registered Charitable Trust and members of the Fair Trade Association (FTAANZ) they are committed to providing fair and empowering employment under excellent working conditions. ReCreate's fabrics are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), as well as denim sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), so you know that their garments are kind to the environment as well as the people who make them. Not only is ReCreate clothing ethical, organic and sustainable but it is beautifully and skillfully made, has a lovely energy and fabulous contemporary designs - you can buy gifts for the whole family here!
John Kalb Pottery
John has studied pottery full-time in Dunedin in New Zealand. John has worked for 9 years part of the year in Sweden and part of the time in New Zealand. Working as a full-time potter since 1980 and has a workshop in Invercargill, New Zealand. Also sells at art and craft markets and to shops and galleries. With the help of water and fire the clay is transformed from a soft to a hard form. This process still fascinates him. It is a challenge to retain the natural qualities of the clay and to have a harmonious blend with the glazes that is both pleasing to the eye and functional. Pottery is a beautiful art form and a wonderful long lasting gift.
Citizen Leather’s creator Layla Cann loves nothing more than creating beautiful new bags from discarded / outdated Genuine Leather Jackets. There’s nothing she loves more than hunting through the opportunity shops and online auctions sites to find that perfect pre-loved jacket begging to be turned into a one-off Citizen Leather Creation. Layla also make beautiful bespoke commissioned pieces - you may have a leather jacket, vest or even a couch (it has been done by Layla!) in the family you could have it remade into gorgeous leather bags to memorialise the person/item.
Pip Pottage Designs
Pip Pottage Designs is focused on creating ethical home wares and baby goods that don’t compromise design, style or your wallet. It’s the creative outlet of Pip Pottage, a self taught surface pattern designer who’s passionate about leaving the world in a better way than she found it. Pip creates beautiful pieces that can be gifted to anyone in the family and will last for an age.
Joe is a high school Art teacher, artist and father of 3 kids aged 8 and under. He has been living and teaching Art in Wellington for the last 13 years. Joe’s work is a mixture of drawings on plywood, paintings of art and film icons such as the Mona Lisa and Darth Vader, and Limited Edition prints. He has a distinctive flowing, organic pattern that he uses in a lot of his work, that he has developed over the years. Joe’s prints look stunning in any room of the house and had recently had his ‘Fox’ print featured on The Block NZ. You can also purchase gorgeous Aotearoa inspired Christmas cards that he has created.
The Natural Parent Magazine
The Natural Parent is the leading parenting magazine both online and in print, for conscious parents. It is thoughtfully published and features inspirational and empowering information and articles to support parents on their gentle parenting journey. A subscription is a awesome gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.
Another subscription that is an enchanting children’s gift idea is Sparkle Stories. Sparkle Stories enrich the story life in your home, bring delight to holidays and seasons, and offer a quality experience during everyday quiet times. And at Sparkle, they offer more than stories. Many of their stories have accompanying Recipes, Crafts, Nature Projects and Educational Tutorials. So the story-fun continues well beyond the listening time!
Looking for some lovingly made ethical skincare or makeup to gift this Christmas? Don’t go past NZRaw with their amazing Lipstick Lab with superbly coloured vegan lipsticks. All products are lovingly and individually handmade here in New Zealand. This wholesome company aims to make cruelty free cosmetics affordable, luxurious and available to everyone.
Bunny & Morepork
Bunny & Morepork is a Mama in Taranaki who finds joy in creating charming prints including personalised birth announcements. This Mama is inspired by nature and especially enjoys painting animals and flowers. All the watercolour images in the prints are hand-painted by her.
Specilising in recycled, retro and natural fabrics and offering my own take on children’s wear, from carefully tailored knickerbockers, coats and dresses to screen-printed tees and hoodies. SilverCircus Clothing is all locally made, has a pop-up shop in Petone, Wellington and also sells online. Ange, the brains and seamstress behind SilverCircus can also make commissioned items if what you want is not available. Great christmas presents include sunhats, t-shirts and the comfiest undies for the kids and Mama!
La Petite Chocolat
Who doesn’t love chocolate for Christmas! Tantalise taste buds with their beautiful organic craft chocolate and let the endorphins release fill you with all the good feelings. Have a look at their website and all the amazing flavours and chocolatey goodness try not to drool!
Written by Michelle P