FRENZIED shopping, overindulgence and food wastage are often associated with festive celebrations in Malaysia and elsewhere. With Christmas and New Year around the corner, are you wondering how to lessen your consumption impact on the planet?
From shopping local to donating to worthy causes, here’s a guide adopted with ideas from friends, The Guardian andThe Daily Green to make your Christmas and New Year celebrations more meaningful and environmentally friendly.
Ask for wish lists from your family members and friends so that you get them something they really want. Most of us have received gifts that we do not need or want, yet we are reluctant to throw them out or re-gift them for fear of offending the giver. At the same time, make it easier for your loved ones by providing them your own wish list in advance.
Then make a list of environmentally sound gift ideas. If you are considering electronic gadgets, for example, check out Greenpeace’s ratings, which rank companies based on their commitment to environmental protection and progress since 2006. For book purchases or wood products, look for products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure they come from well-managed forests.
Another way to reduce your ecological footprint is to buy from local businesses and communities. Etsy is a good place to shop online for handmade items. A couple of Malaysian sellers hosted their first market on 15 Dec 2012 at Damansara Uptown.
The other place that’s usually good for hand-made, locally designed arts and craft is at Art for Grabs, which is held regularly at the Annexe in Central Market, Kuala Lumpur.
My favourite retailer is Bisou BonBon, which sells handmade solid perfumes, soaps, mosquito repellent, lip balm, body scrubs and more at affordable prices. The founder, Dr Shelby Kho, also handles tailor-made gift requests for special occasions.
For indigenous craft, Gerai OA offers handicrafts made by indigenous communities in Malaysia. The nomadic stall is run by volunteers, so 100% of the basic item price goes back to the artisans. The products can also be purchased online at Elevyn.com.
Create personalised gift hampers with organic food and products from Justlife or Little Green Planet. Consider introducing family, friends and colleagues to eco-friendly household cleaning products available at Natural & Eco Republic at Jaya One, Petaling Jaya.
For families and friends with newborns, you can find eco-friendly baby products at Tiny Tapir at one of its two retail outlets – Ampang Park Shopping Centre and Bangsar Village Two – or shop at its online store.
Make your own gifts or experiences
Take them on a trip to a waterfall, forest park or the beach to escape from the concrete jungle and electronic foliage.
Minimise gift wrapping
Be kind to planet Earth. The Ecologist recommends we abandon wrapping paper, which is hard to recycle, clogs up landfills, and is pricey. Wrap your presents in fabric, posters, newspapers, magazine covers or used wrapping paper, and decorate them with reusable silk ribbons.
Donate in their names
Last but not least, you can donate to a charity or a cause you know your loved ones support in their names. Be it in community development, nature conservation, electoral reforms, human rights advocacy or gender equality, there are plenty of causes in need of financial support.
In addition, charitable donations usually dip during economic downturns. Take this opportunity to scout and donate to a credible local welfare home in your city or town.
Above all, keep in mind that it is often not the gift itself but the thought behind the gift that counts. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, folks!
Gan Pei Ling is looking forward to a year-end holiday retreat with her loved ones.