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Christmas

Gifts and giving

A woman and three children making their own cards.

©iStockphoto.com

There are some great options for lower impact, lower cost gifts.

Instead of buying a tangible present you could try giving an experience as a gift instead. Options like a subscription to your local theatre or sporting events, a cooking lesson or a massage are excellent alternatives to packaged gifts. If you give gift certificates, you know the recipient can get what they really want and won't discard your gift. These options reduce the need for wrapping too.

You could get the kids involved in making a gift or cook up a batch of gifts from your kitchen.

Why not give someone a gift that lets them become more efficient or saves them money? Possible ideas range from things for the kitchen garden, a potted plant, compost bin or worm farm, through to gifts that are solar, wind or hand powered. These don't need to be expensive. A refillable water bottle makes an easy gift, and it has the potential to reduce plastic waste and could save the recipient thousands of dollars by avoiding the purchase of bottled water. Similarly a re–usable travel beverage mug would be great for a colleague or office worker, and can reduce the need to bin hundreds of disposable coffee cups each year.

Many of us will get new or upgraded gadgets this Christmas. If your old model still works, why not gift this on to someone else, or choose to recycle your old computer, TV, or MP3 player. Visit Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou website for details. The Australian Government has also introduced an industry-funded National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme for televisions and computers, printers and computer products such as keyboards, mice and hard-drives. If you're shopping for new home entertainment gadgets and technology or electric appliances, look for energy-efficient models as the running costs will add up over time and will impact on your electricity bill for the lifetime of all these products. A big energy bill is a gift you may not want to give.

Try to avoid gifts that are battery operated or look for those that can run off mains power—or give a battery charger and some re–chargeable batteries as a gift (parents will love you).

Christmas is about giving but it's also about sharing. Many charities and environmental organisations offer gift options which you can give the 'person who has everything' and also help others or help the environment. You could offset the emissions for someone's car for a year, or buy school supplies for a child in the developing world. Some of these gifts are also tax deductible so you'll get a gift come July.

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