As Christmas shopping time rolls round again, concern for planet Earth is to the fore. Do we really want contribute to landfill with unwanted gifts? Most of us will have been guilty of imprudent, impulse purchasing in the mad dash before the big day, but even last minute gift giving doesn’t have to be bad for the planet.
Gifts that support conservation and biodiversity
Plants, especially native plants that support native wildlife feed our pollinators and make wonderful gifts for gardeners with space to plant. It might be a little kowhai tree or flax to attract the Tui or it could be as simple as a packet of flower seeds to attract the bees. Alternatively, we can support native tree planting throughout New Zealand with a gift that will last for hundreds of years. Go online to gift native trees to a friend or family member for just $10 per tree. Your loved one will receive a personalised certificate by email and they’ll get to know where their tree is planted. Find out how at grow.treesthatcount.co.nz
Gifts that fight climate change
By definition, if it is a plant, it absorbs carbon dioxide - globally the most prevalent hothouse gas contributing to global warming. The plants that sequester the most carbon are those that will grow into big trees that will stay in the ground indefinitely (rather than being cut down for timber), but a simple garden fruit tree will also make its contribution while providing food-mile-free fruit for a family.
Gifts that minimise waste
A worm farm or a compost heap isn’t easy to gift-wrap but it might be the most welcome gift you could give to a budding environmentalist wanting to recycle their food waste. Those who already have a compost bin may appreciate a pretty compost pail to sit on the bench. Gifts that help people cut down on single use containers include seed trays, reusable water bottles, keep cups and water filters.
Gifts that you made yourself
Save money and add the personal personal touch to your present giving with simple homemade gifts. It might be a photo print, a jar of home made jam or chutney, or pressed flowers from the garden made into attractive cards, book marks or framed artworks. A beautiful bunch of flowers picked from your own garden is the ultimate last minute gift.
Gifts that involve recycling
Look for products that involve upcycling or recycling, such as a designer plant pot made from recycled, UV-resistant plastic, or upcycle something yourself. Create your own plant containers using recycled containers and finish them off with a pretty plant. This is a great way to involve children in gift giving. Upcycle old clothing to make pretty tote bags or temporary planter bags.
Gifts that save water
Over summer, saving water is an issue for most of us. Water-saving gifts include drought tolerant plants such as succulents. It might also be a replacement for leaky watering equipment, a handy new watering wand or an irrigation system that saves water by placing it only where it’s needed. Ideally, you could help install it. Simple water timers that switch the water off after a preset time are great for forgetful gardeners. The best way to save summer water (while also improving soil health and removing more carbon from the atmosphere) is a thick layer of mulch. The keen vege gardener in your family might love a load of pea straw delivered this Christmas!
Gifts that are edible
Homemade jams, preserved lemons and limes, home made herbal teas, gourmet honey and infused oils make perfect plant-based gifts for a foodie friend or family member. Potted herbs make fabulous gifts. Perhaps the best gift for a non-gardening neighbour or workmate is a basket filled with beautiful fresh vegetables from your garden.
Gifts that inspire outdoor activity
A special gift for the person who doesn’t need or want more stuff might be a bike tour, a zoo pass, a kayak or surfing lesson or a garden visit. If they don’t want to leave their own back yard, a new garden spade, trimmers, trowel or gardening gloves may be all the inspiration they need for some extra outdoor recreation.
Gifts that educate and inspire
Beautiful gardening books and books about nature can last a lifetime and be passed down through generations. Or make it a gift that keeps giving with a subscription to an inspiring magazine. If you want to be strictly green and avoid paper, there are on-line magazine subscriptions, but in this age of everything digital, there is nothing more soothing than a lovely book or glossy magazine to rest tired eyes.
Gifts that last
The ultimate lasting gift is a living, growing plant. Plants that provide instant beautification for home or garden will delight almost anyone at this social time of year. For the non-green-fingered include some instructions on how to keep it alive!