Eco-conscious Christmas gifts

(Shanghai Star) | Dec 25, 2014


Christmas is a time of year to celebrate, but the environmental impact of the holiday season can be shocking. Wu Ni looks at some earth-friendly gift ideas.

It is once again the time of the year when people decorate, celebrate and give gifts to loved ones. The festive season, however, comes at a high price in environmental terms, with people generating huge mountains of extra rubbish.

It is estimated that about eight million Christmas trees are used every year and only a small number of them are recycled.

Between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve, households in the US produce 25 percent more waste than any other time of year. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all add up to an additional one million tons a week that ends up in landfill, according to Environmental Protection Agency in US.

British people throw out the equivalent of two million turkeys, five million Christmas puddings and a truly shocking 74 million mince pies, according to the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign run by UK government’s waste reduction advisory body.

In Australia, governmental statistics show households spend about $10.11 billion on food in December, and 35 percent of rubbish they send to landfill is food waste.

While Christmas is not traditionally celebrated in China, its popularity is rising and the spirit of good cheer extends to the hip pocket, with people’s eating, drinking and spending levels reaching a small peak, if not quite the level of the Spring Festival.

Christmas trees are set up at shopping malls, bars, restaurants and offices. And these Christmas trees, though not from forests, are mostly made of plastic foam board and metal frames.

In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, Christmas dinners are normally booked from the beginning of December, with prices ranging from 800 yuan ($130) to 2,000 yuan.

In this electronic age, new shiny gadgets and gizmos top many people’s Christmas wish lists, such as the latest iPad or iPhone. But the risk of electronic waste can not be ignored. By 2016, the world is expected to have generated 93.5 million tons of electronic waste, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. There are more active SIM cards—7.2 billion, to be precise—than people in the world. Currently, 70 to 80 percent of all that goes straight to landfill.

Environmental protection organizations have continued calls for a green holiday. During Christmas 2011, iearth, a non-governmental organization in China, launched a campaign to simplify holiday gifts wrapping.

According to iearth, about 750,000 tons of extra waste is created every Christmas and 40 percent of it is from wrapping.

Eco-friendly websites are also encouraging gift givers to offer time and services instead of stuff. Material-free gifts, such as membership to a gym or sports center, or tickets to a game or the theater are often the most environmentally conscious presents. People can also consider buying fair trade products, bio-friendly goods and recycled items.

Here are some ideas that might inspire those who want to give gifts that friends and family will love while still caring about the environment. Many can be purchased online all the while eliminating emissions from driving around and the stress of parking and large crowds.

According to iearth, about 750,000 tons of extra waste is created in every Christmas and 40 percent of it is from wrapping.

Gift guide: For her


BsaB Organic Spa Candles

Eco-conscious Christmas gifts
Price: from $18 to $90 depending on size

Free of chemicals, synthetic fillers and toxic materials, BsaB candles use the finest natural ingredients, including 100 percent pure soy wax and beeswax. When the candles are burned, the warm wax oil can be used as essential oil that provides an eco-friendly aromatherapy.

The design of candle is eye-catching, too. Natural bamboo from family-owned bamboo plantation farms is used as the candle holder. Every piece is handmade, thus the shape differs. The package is bio-degradable cornstarch plastic. You can re-fill this beautiful candle holder again and again with the BsaB Candle Refill Kit.

Gift guide: For him


Lumio Led Book Lamp

Price: $190

Eco-conscious Christmas gifts
Lumio looks just like a book, but actually it's a lighting fixture. When you open the book, it lights up, and when you close it, the light turns off. It can be your table lamp, wall light and chandelier. Lumio combines laser-cut wood cover design with durable water-resistant Tyvek "pages" containing energy-efficient LEDs. The high-performing LED lights produce 500 lumens - equivalent to a 40-watt bulb.


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