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Viv Harris: Green Christmas

With Viv Harris

Have a very green christmas


Many presents we buy for Christmas are plastic, unrecyclable and often things we dont really need.

How about leaving the commercial hype behind and really thinking sustainably this year and looking at gifts that are not only useful and pleasing to the receiver, they are environmentally sound, sustainable and are easily recyclable and biodegradable.

Remember sustainability means supplying AND replenishing the system we live in; dont let stuff end up in the landfill as this is just a dead end, let them go around the cycle of supply/replenish over and over.  This year we have covered aspects of recycling, composting and making our own skincare and cleaning products. We can bring all these things together now to create thoughtful, easy to assemble sustainable Christmas presents.

Think carefully about how you are going to celebrate Christmas this year from a reusable Christmas tree(instead of cutting down a live one!), to growing your own veges for Christmas dinner there are many ways to celebrate sustainably!  

Live presents

  • Using the fabulous compost you have made earlier this year, plant up attractive pots (or reuse old metal cans, paint the outside in bright colours and slip the plant in its plastic (recycled) pot into the painted can).
  • Plant herbs that can be used not only as insect repellents at your door or window, but also can be used to eat. Ideas are Basil, Thyme, Sage, Mint, Parsley.
  • Give an assortment of potted herbs that can create a whole herb garden.
  • Grow your own veges and make a Vege box on the day of giving.
  • Consider gifting a lemon tree or another fruit tree, or even a tree and arrange a planting party or ceremony to make it extra special (trees feed us as well as clean the air). 

Make your own

  • Consider baking such as cookies or shortbread gifted which can be wrapped in recycled containers, painted up or covered in gift wrap.
  • Make you own skin creams and package in recycled packaging and labelled as your own
  • Use recycled attractive bottles to fill with Apple Cider Vinegar or a good quality olive oil, add a sprig of Rosemary, Sage or Tarragon and voila, herb vinegar and herb oil!
  • Buy metres of organic cotton and make simple Tee shirts, or scarves. Play with clay dyes (mix and soak in finely ground up red clay) or even beetroot juice!
  • Make up easy household cleaners using baking soda, white vinegar, water and essential oils

Give your time to others

  • Our time and help is incredibly valuable, what about gifting a days work in the garden, painting, cleaning or just a day out at the beach or a museum outing. This would be great for elderly relatives, friends that are too busy or even your own family!
  • Volunteer at the Salvation Army (or similar) Christmas dinner
  • Join the refugee support organisation, do the short course and adopt a  new refugee family (see
  • Get on side with your local school, daycare or kindergarten if you have knowledge about gardening, recycling or composting and create new gardens and show the children how to grow veges as well as cook and use them on a daily basis. This is our countries future, children need to know these skills 

Virtual and online gifts

Several charities organise the supply of needed aid resources overseas by choosing a "gift" (i.e. school books, seeds, a goat). Your money goes to purchase the gift, delivers it to the people that needs them and the person who you have purchased the gift for gets a card to let them know they have sent a gift to someone who really needs it and who it is from
Ecologically sound and environmentally oriented online gifts are available online
Try the New Internationalist Shop (A not for profit organisation which aims for social justice for all, sales of products supports this). The catalogue contains educational books, calendars, diaries, greeting cards as well as some organic cotton clothing
NZ Nature also provides ecologically sound gifts online

New Year resolutions!

Organise a whole house recycling and reusing programme, aim for zero waste at the gate! 
MAKE A COMPOST HEAP!!  Use all your biodegradable household waste, and turn it into black gold so you can grow your own veges, fruit trees and flowers
Build a Vege garden, plant your veges and eat them, daily
Teach your children to care for our planet, the future lies in their hands as well as ours (consider joining the  Forest and Bird Society , they have  great children's programme)
Relax, de-stress and take time to be with nature; the more you are in it, the better care you take of it!