Buying eco-friendly gifts gives you a real boost to your wellbeing. There’s such a feel-good factor behind buying environmentally aware items or even better, making your own, if time permits.
Every Christmas, where presents are concerned, I try to make as much as I can. Some years I’m more prolific than others. This year, I started making in the summer. Strawberry and Star Anise Jam, Raspberry and Cardamon Jam, pickled home grown cucumbers, and in the autumn, Elderberry Syrups made from local elderberries, and chutneys from garden plums. I’m also making some special spiced teas, recipe coming soon.
In a bid to not only save money but to also step away from consumerism and the environmental waste and work stress associated with this lifestyle, I started approaching the way we live when I moved back to Norfolk and went freelance, almost six years ago.
I’d say 80% of the furniture, clothes, toys and items in our cottage, if not more, is either second-hand, from car boot sales, charity shops or made by hand. This is our front room – it might not be to everyone’s taste – but apart from a couple of picture frames, and the pink fairy, everything you see in this picture is second hand. All the furniture you can’t see in this picture, including the sofa, magazine rack, TV table (including TV), coffee table, wicker hampers and book shelf, were all second hand, though no one would be able to tell.
Back to eco-gifting. It can be a labour of love making gifts, and it isn’t for everyone. But if you’re still keen to think a bit greener this year, there are also a whole host of other thoughtful, eco-friendly presents you might like to consider.
Here’s a round-up of some of my favourite reusable home wares and kitchen items.
Beeswax Reusable Sandwich Bags
This is my new favourite thing! Ditch the plastic and pop your sandwich in an eco-friendly reusable beeswax snack bag instead. It’s made from 100% cotton with beeswax jojoba oil for a flexible wrap. It’s washable with either a damp cloth or in cool soapy water, but make sure its not hot otherwise the wax will melt. They are naturally antibacterial, no chemicals, no plastic. Keep away from heat though. (Not dishwasher safe or suitable for the microwave.) These particular beauties are handmade from Aly Broome who I discovered on Etsy. Her shop is ‘Broomes Cupboard’. Once your sandwich bag is no longer usable, you can shred it and place on the compost heap.
A pair of reusable food bags are £14. But just think how much foil and sandwich bags you’ll save money on, while keeping the planet a bit cleaner.
Kalleco is an online brand that helps to reduce unnecessary plastic usage, particularly of single-use products. They sell the loveliest-looking metal straws and organic cotton tote bags in blue and cream. Sustainable and reusable straws.
For more information head to: https://kalleco.com
Kalleco are also launching a new range of beeswax wraps soon so keep your eyes peeled!
Hand Painted Tiffins
I started using tiffins a few years ago and haven’t looked back since. Forget tupperware, transport your crudités, dips and salads in this stunning four tier Indian tiffin. Hand painted by artisans in India, the tiffin’s exterior features famous Madhubani motifs in a kaleidoscope of colours. Perfect for storing both cold and hot picnic food. Adorned with a handle at the top, to ensure you keep items upright, both practical and precious.
Made with organic bamboo fibre and perfect for impromptu bench picnics, an ecoffee cup is a must-have these days. My favourite part of the range includes the cup designs from artist, print maker and poet, William Morris. Useful and beautiful, ecoffee cup embodies all that William Morris held true – functional classics for our times. Everyone always comments on how beautiful my ecoffee cups I think they’re some of the prettiest out there.
William Morris (340ml) ecoffee cup £10.95
I bought one of these last spring and haven’t looked back since. An elegant alternative to a flask, Chillys offer a range of stunning bottles for keeping drinks cold for 24 hours or hot water warm for 12 hours. These beautifully designed bottles have advanced double wall vacuum technology, providing high performance and style rolled into one.
Floral Daisy Bottle (500ml) £25
It’s a Wrap
This year we’re making our own wrapping paper. For small gifts I’m using leftover fabric from jam-making and vintage scraps bought from the car boot. I stole his idea from my friend Judith, who is a bit of a legend – she’s sent me gifts wrapped in fabric before and they were so precious to receive. Also, I’ve bought rolls of brown paper which is sometimes easier to recycle, and some red wool we had in the cupboard, for ‘bows’.