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5 Gifting ideas for a Greener FESTIVE SEASON

With the holiday season steadily approaching us, one might find themselves in a fix – “What shall I give my loved ones in December?” Especially difficult when you are trying to be environmentally friendly and focus less on stuff (even if they are eco-gifts) and on experiences- fear not, we have wonderful fresh ideas to help you!

(According to a 2011 study conducted by Greenpeace, one kilogram of wrapping paper emits three and a half kilograms of carbon dioxide during its production process and an additional one and a half kilograms of coal is needed to power its production. (Credit: Yevhen Buzuk / Pixabay)

No matter who the recipient is, finding the perfect Christmas gift is never easy. You might be pondering on where to buy it from, whether it would arrive on time, and such. In fact, to some, getting the ideal Christmas gift is much harder than planning festive parties or cooking up a feast as it all boils down to whether the recipient will ultimately appreciate the gift.

Furthermore, with Christmas being one of the most celebrated holidays in the world, it is also the period of time that experiences a surge of waste pollution. Lots of aluminum foil, plastic packaging, wrapping paper, and such are excessively produced just to be discarded.

However, this does not mean that everyone should feel guilty about celebrating Christmas –it is the season of joy after all! The environmental impact of the holiday season can simply be reduced with minimal creativity and effort. Moreover, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Futera, 88% of consumers prefer gifts that minimise their environmental impact. Therefore, forget visiting densely packed emporiums or paying extravagantly for an express shipping rate this year. Not all gifts have to be tangible, they can perhaps come in the form of an experience instead.

Here are five environmentally friendly gift ideas that will definitely add spice and everything nice to your loved ones.

1. Sponsor a coral reef star

Instead of a star atop the christmas tree, why not plant a star at the bottom of the ocean in Bali? Symbolic adoptions are meaningful gifts as they support conservation efforts.

Ocean Purpose Project’s Coral Reef Stars project is a joint collaboration with Livingseas Conservation to reforest coral depleted waters in East Bali. It focuses on shaping hexagonal steel bars into a star, anchored onto the seabed, while promoting corals to spread along the structure. Due to the circumstances of coral reefs being damaged because of changing water temperatures and pollution, the Coral Reef Stars project aims to restore the underwater forests of Bali that provide coastal protection for communities and increase the potential for adaptation which will prevent the extinction of coral biodiversity.

Sponsoring a coral reef star can go a long way and it will definitely make anyone feel contented for helping to protect the aquatic environment.

Selection of resilient genotypes planted on to the artificial surface could improve restoration efficiency and ensure that restored populations do not meet the same fate as their predecessors (Credit: Ocean Purpose Project)

Get a Christmas Coral reef Star today! Click here to purchase:

2. Instead of Christmas cards, send Christmas plants

Though it has a long tradition in time, sending physical Christmas cards is not an eco-friendly idea. Envirotech states that sending one card is equivalent to releasing 140g of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while adding on how emissions created by planes and delivery vehicles to mail cards are responsible for the largest part of the card’s carbon footprint.

Therefore, instead of posting Christmas cards, why not plant seeds from vegetables or fruits consumed into empty pots lying around the storage area or even better from egg cartons or used bottles and surprise friends and family? Since plants can help stave off seasonal depression and improve air quality, they are a great Christmas gift.

Christmas plants are always a more personal and sentimental gift. Without a doubt, they will put a smile on anyone’s face. If you would rather support local florists and HDB Mom & Pop shops selling plants, here's a handy list of places you can head to!

Blk 506 Tampines Central 1 Plant Shop in Singapore:

Sing See Soon Floral & Landscape: 5 Simei Ln, Singapore 528710

Ban Nee Chen Nursery (Toa Payoh): Blk 178 Toa Payoh Central, #01-226, Singapore 310178

Far East Flora @ Thomson: 555 Thomson Rd, Singapore 298140 (This area has multiple massive garden shops so its a great one to head to)

3. Bring cheer to others by volunteering

Krsna’s Free Meals strives to provide up to 800 breakfast and 700 lunch boxes a day (Credit: Jason Quah / Straits Times)

You don’t always have to give gifts to people you know. Christmas is the season of giving and this applies to everyone – families, friends, neighbours, and even strangers. Do something different and worthwhile this Christmas; gift your time to help those who truly need it.

There are several activities that you can join such as cooking meals and delivering food to the less fortunate. If you are in Singapore this Christmas, consider volunteering with food rescue organisations such as GoodHood.SG and SG Food Rescue. They collect food that consumers and merchants do not want anymore such as products that are not in a perfect condition but are still edible. Volunteering at soup kitchens is also meaningful as you will be helping low-income families, the elderly, and anyone else who is in need. Organisations such as Krsna’s Free Meals and Willing Hearts welcome anyone who is able to assist with cooking, packing meals, and washing up workstations. You may donate food and beverages to these organisations too.

There are plenty of organisations worldwide that you can volunteer at. Be someone’s Santa Claus and gift your time for a great cause this year.

Here are some ideas for volunteering:

OPP Beach Hub Traditional Herb Garden: Calling for donations of plants and used gardening materials to build Singapore's first seaweed fertilised herb garden. Learn more here:

4. Watch a show

Wild Rice’s Pinocchio is set in a Singaporean context and features an original soundtrack (Credit: Wild Rice)

If your recipient is someone who enjoys the performing arts, ranging from slam poetry to theatre, or is just someone who appreciates a healthy amount of drama in their life, contemplate bringing them to an entertaining spectacle this Christmas. Buying tickets to attend a show together in the future works just as well too. In any case, spending time with your loved ones coupled with engaging theatrics makes the gift of an experience unique.

If you are based in Singapore, it is worth checking out Wild Rice, one of Singapore’s leading professional theatre companies. Their ongoing show, Pinocchio, is a sassy musical adaption of the classic fantasy novel, while upcoming ones such as An Inspector Calls and Hotel will hit the stage from March 2023 onwards. The Esplanade also features dance and musical performances on a regular basis too. There are some festive-themed performances such as Christmas with Ernesto and Greg and East meets West on Christmas. If these seem a bit too fancy or out of budget for you, taking a serene evening stroll along Orchard Road is ideal. There are a variety of street performances during this time of year such as carolling and miming.

Such experiences will surely leave a long-lasting impact. In addition, besides treating your family and friends to a fabulous time, you will also be supporting the local arts scene, which has been dwindling due to the pandemic.

5. Pamper a loved one with spa packages

Aramsa Spa also offers eyelash services, hairstyling, and yoga sessions (Credit: Tripadvisor)

Another form of an experience given can be through facials, massages, and whatnot. This gift will come in handy for anyone who has been working doubly hard and needs some time to relax.

If your loved ones are residing in Singapore, sign them up for a session with G.Spa, the only 24-hour spa in Singapore. The spa features a nature-inspired retreat with all packages to include hot and cool pools, steam rooms, and sauna facilities. It also has unlimited servings from the café menu and various types of massages and treatments such as body scrubs and foot reflexologies. Aramsa Spa is another establishment that emits tranquility from the moment you step in. With only botanical and herb-based products used, it offers soothing treatments such as exfoliation therapy and water therapy.

All in all, not all gifts have to be wrapped to make a positive statement. More often than not, the gifts that are memorable and stand out more are gifts that have much thought put into it. Most importantly, they will be cherished and loved by anyone.

Therefore, show you care for the earth and make a change this year by celebrating Christmas with the usual holiday fun and spirit but in a green fashion.

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