Staff-picks March 28 2019

The Top 8 Sustainable Gift Ideas and Eco Friendly Gifts

The Top 8 Sustainable Gift Ideas and Eco Friendly Gifts

Have you ever realised the day of the birthday party that you forgot to get the birthday girl a gift? It’s a horrible feeling knowing you don’t have enough time to get a loved one a thoughtful gift that reflects how much you care about them. But we’ve all been there.. As we get busier and busier juggling all our commitments, last minute gifts are getting more common. In the moment of realisation that you not only forgot to get them a gift, but you have no idea what to get them, it’s easy to grab a couple of staple gifts. You know the gifts I’m talking about... a candle, a mug or maybe even a novelty wine glass? But as soon as we hand them over, you don’t feel the sense rush of endorphins that giving usually gives you, because you know you should have put more thought into it earlier.

The purpose of this article is to help us all make better decisions when searching for a gift next time, whether it’s last-minute or not.

Sustainable Gift Ideas

Why Do We Love Giving Gifts?

Giving releases endorphins and makes us happy, it’s a fact. According to the Greater Good Magazine, it not only makes us happy but it evokes gratitude, promotes social connection, is good for our health and it’s contagious! As humans, we all love the feeling of giving to others.

The Ugly Truth of Gift Giving

We’re not here to be party-poopers. But you may be shocked to hear that the average Australian family spends approx $963 on Christmas presents each year… and that $620 worth of these gifts are unwanted by the recipient. You heard us right, that’s over 64% of the gifts that you buy. Inevitably, and devastatingly, the majority of these gifts cannot be returned and end up in landfill.

It’s not just us regular gift givers that contribute to this waste, but the world of corporate gifting. I personally cringed just last week when I received a branded pen in a leather box as a gift (WHY!?). Do people even use pens these days? Kidding. But if you are in a position of purchasing power in the corporate realm, please consider what is and isn’t necessary when buying your branded goodies.

Some more (not-so-fun) gifting facts:

- Unwanted Christmas gifts equate to $4 billion dollars in Australia alone

- 97% of batteries from gifts end up in landfill and contribute to contaminated groundwater

- We generate an extra 125,000 tonne of packaging waste at Christmas

Sustainable Gift Ideas & Eco Friendly Gift Ideas

It’s time to brighten the mood with some ways we can avoid this excess waste and increase those gift giving endorphins when you arrive at your next birthday party! Consider this your go-to sustainable gift guide. We’ve listed below our favourite eco-friendly gift ideas.

1. Experience Gifts


We know, we’re a bit biased here. But it’s not just us who recognises that experiences make the best sustainable gifts. Experience gifting is becoming a popular green gifting option and oh are we here for it! At Gifting Owl we don’t even send your typical plastic gift cards in the mail. You can choose to send your gift via Email, SMS, WhatsApp or even Facebook. We know that it feels good to exchange something physical when giving a gift, so we do encourage making handmade cards to go with your gift voucher or redemption code.

Experience gifting is not only good for the environment, but we know that people are starting to value experiences over physical ‘things’ that just end up filling their small apartments. People are looking for more sustainable and ‘instagrammable’ gifts that they can share with loved ones. And lucky for you, we have plenty on offer, in over 100 countries around the world.

To make the gift a little more special, why not purchase a voucher for the two of you to go on an experience together? A memory of that milestone birthday or occasion that you’ll both share together.

The best part of all? You can be as last-minute as possible. It takes about 30 seconds to generate a gift on Gifting Owl. Sure, finding one that really suits the lucky recipient may take slightly longer, but there are no frantic trips to the shopping centre and importantly, no waste.

2. Ask The Recipient What They Want

Actually ask them what they’d like for their birthday? Mind blowing!

Here’s a very simple way to make sure you aren’t giving an unwanted gift that will contribute to waste. If you don’t know them so well, this may be a bit awkward, but we think it’s worth the uncomfortable conversation. And if you’re wanting to somewhat surprise them, ask their partner for inspiration instead.

3. Give a Plant!

We LOVE plants. Having a plant in the house can improve your mental health, help with sleep, are natural air fresheners AND look fantastic! Winning!

4. Buy a Goat

This may sound odd if you’re hearing it for the first time. But our friends at Oxfam will give a goat to someone in need to help grow crops and produce offspring. Eventually your gift will provide an income to impoverished people in third-world countries. 

5. Re-Gift

If you’ve ever received a gift that isn’t quite right for you, why not pass it onto someone who would love it? Just make sure it’s still good as new and you’ve removed all evidence of previous gifting and Bob’s your uncle!

6. Donate to Charity

Donating to charity is becoming more and more popular. Thanks to a new Facebook feature you can actually request to have money sent to your favourite charity rather than receiving an unwanted gift. It’s not hard to pick a gift when they’ve already told you that's what they want. Especially if you know a charity that is close to their heart, it will be a thoughtful gift that they appreciate.

7. Metal Water Bottles, Straws and All Things Plastic-Free

The trend is happening all around us, and it’s amazing to see. It’s like carrying around a plastic water bottle is now taboo, and carrying around a metal one is the new norm. But metal water bottles and plastic-free options can often be expensive. So why not go in with your partner or friend and give a stylish metal water bottle as a gift?

Special mention to companies like 4ocean, who are giving back to the planet with every purchase made. 4ocean will remove a pound of trash from the ocean with every water bottle purchased! Is there such thing as a WIN-WIN-WIN?

8. Donate your Time

How about arranging a special picnic for you both to enjoy? Or even dinner and a movie? It’s no wonder people say that ‘your presence is my present’. Spending quality time together can often be the best gift you can give.

Still not convinced by one of our 8 favourite sustainable gift ideas? Head on over to our friends at Going Green Solutions for more gift ideas for a living planet.

We hope we’ve proved that giving a sustainable and thoughtful last minute gift isn’t actually as hard as it sounds! Collectively we can make a real difference by thinking more about the gifts we give and reducing the amount of unwanted gifts that end up in landfills each year. After all, it may just be as easy as asking the recipient what they’d actually like?

Happy Sustainable Gifting!


- The Clean Collective

-The Greater Good Magazine

-The University of Sydney

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