It's that time of year when many of us are getting together and exchanging presents. I personally love this time of year but I really don't love all the extra waste.
There are staggering statistics around the increase in waste produced over the festive season. According to figures collected by Wildlife and Countryside Link, over Christmas 2017, the UK alone was estimated to use around:
- 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging (not recycled) – more than the weight of 3.3 million Emperor penguins.
- 88 square km of wrapping paper – enough to cover a city the size of Brighton and Hove, Sunderland, or my hometown of Preston.
- 300,000 tonnes of card packaging – the equivalent weight of 2 million reindeer.
Clearly we need to do things differently, but we don't have to be bah-humbug about giving gifts either. There are alternative ways to spread a little festive love that don't involve plastic stocking fillers or novelty socks. So here are some ideas for ethical, low-cost and waste-free gifts for the yogi or eco-conscious person in your life.
1. Plant a tree
For the ultimate eco-friendly present, plant a tree in someone’s name. You can opt to have a tree planted somewhere they can visit it (please, resist the urge to take Tree pose selfies) or support national and international reforestation projects. There are lots of NGOs and charities such as the Woodland Trust and Worldland Trust who can offer advice.
2. Make edible presents
Yoga is tough! Make someone a batch of Emma’s No-bake plant protein power brownies for their post-yoga refuelling. Package them in a nice reusable food container with a list of their nearest refill grocery stores for extra points.
3. Give the gift of yoga
Buy someone a gift card for online yoga with EkhartYoga so they can have a little yoga escape from the relatives. And if you’re already a member with us it won’t cost you anything! As a special thank-you, we’re giving all of our members three 1-month gift cards to give away for free to friends and family - share the love!
4. Adopt a whale or dolphin
Whale and Dolphin Conservation in the UK will send you very sweet monthly updates on how your adopted whale or dolphin is doing, and if you’re near Scotland you might be able to spot them. There are lots of other organisations worldwide who run similar schemes.
5. Choose ‘Experiences not things’
This cliche may be a little worn out by people selling expensive ‘experience days’, but the idea is still sound. There are plenty of free or low cost, local things you can do, like organising a walk with your friends or learning something new together. Reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ in the world and gift someone an experience they’ll remember instead.
6. Pay for a yoga workshop
Sign someone up for a yoga workshop or retreat. Better still, choose an event supporting a charity. Esther Ekhart is holding a yoga day in January with other EkhartYoga teachers where 100% of the fees are donated to the refugee charity “Because we carry”. Book your space on the Move from Love Yoga Day. Limited spaces left.
7. Choose gifts that give back
Support small businesses with strong ethical policies. More and more companies now operate on a buy-one gift-one basis, or donate a share of their profits. Look for companies who give back to communities, like Article 22 who employ local families in Laos to create jewellery from shrapnel and weapons, making the area safer and providing a decent wage in the process. Check any wrapping paper you use can be recycled (lots can't) or choose reusable fabric wrap.
8. Buy second-hand
Buying pre-loved presents means less impact on the environment and more for your money, whether you're buying someone vintage clothes, antique furniture or second-hand books. And when you buy from charity shops you’re also directly supporting organisations from local hospices to international aid organisations like Oxfam. Charity shops are also perfect places to donate those novelty Christmas socks should you receive them - someone else will love them.
9. Make a DIY yoga bolster
Everyone loves a bolster! A few restorative yoga poses with a bolster after work can make all the difference. Even if your friends are not into yoga yet, bolsters make great cushions and draught excluders! Make your own or if you’re not so crafty, buy a mini-one like this from Yogamatters with bonus tips on how to use it from Esther.
10. Create a yoga playlist
Recreate the nostalgia of receiving a mixtape! Give someone your time and effort and show them you care by putting together a personal playlist to practice to. Check out Anna Sugarman's Spotify yoga playlists for some music ideas and inspiration.
Have a great rest of 2019 - however you choose to celebrate it!
This is unsponsored and unaffiliated content, we're just shining a light on companies and charities we think are doing good in the world. However we would love you to read 3. and 6. again ;)