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Gifts that give back

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Photo from The Bamboo Company

The Christmas season makes us again wonder what we will give to our loved ones, friends, and workmates. There are many gift ideas to consider, but one concept is worthy to be chosen for a change: eco-friendly and sustainable gifts.

Sustainable products are among the type of gifts that are really worth giving. Not merely does somebody give an item, he or she also grants the recipient an opportunity to make a lifestyle change that gives back to communities and benefits the environment.

In fact, there has been a growing demand for products that tap into sustainability. An extensive study by the Center of Sustainable Business at the New York University (NYU Stern CSB) found out that 50% of consumer packed goods growth from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products.

Such sustainable products accounted for 16.6% of the market in 2018, and —more importantly — they grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not.

“Consumers are voting with their dollars — against unsustainable brands,” NYU Stern CSB ‘s Founding Director Tensie Whelan and Senior Scholar Randi Kronthal-Sacco wrote in Harvard Business Review on the implications of their findings.

While this might yet be the same sentiment in the Philippines, the push for green living has been very much felt in the country, with a lot of sustainable materials being conceptualized and made available especially online. Sustainable products, therefore, are great choices for Christmas gifts nowadays. Regardless of the apparently high costs, these gifts will surely count for their long-time usability and long-term benefits.

One can go with as simple as a writing instrument like pencils. Eco You PH, Eco Hub Cebu, and Paraluman have come up with unique pencils that have seed capsules instead of tiny erasers.

Another great option is reusable dining and drinking utensils. Tindahan ni Klara offers cutlery sets that come in various colors and come with metal straws and a case. The Bamboo Company, meanwhile, offers bamboo-made baon sets such as Bambootensil, Bambaunan, and Bambote sets; while Eco Hub Cebu has a double-walled insulated bamboo tumbler that maintains the heat or coldness of a beverage for up to eight hours.

Bamboo toothbrushes are an effortless yet very practical idea for gifts or raffle prizes. With only P75, one can purchase from Go Zero PH an eco-friendly alternative to plastic toothbrushes.

Moreover, there are a lot of sustainable hygiene and beauty products to choose from. One can choose from various finely crafted body bars, including the cruelty-free and stress-relieving Amortensia Body Bar from Herbology PH, organic anti-bacterial soaps from Squeaky Clean Kids, or organic bath bars from Bukid ni Bogs in Zamboanga del Sur.

There are also shampoo bars like Haribon Foundation’s CleanAir Shampoo Bar, which comes free with signing up to its Adopt-a-Seedling program; and The Pink Bloom, which improves hair quality without the fuss of a plastic container.

Human Heart Nature is a great source for pampering sustainable gifts, like their Gifts of Comfort and Joy bundle which includes Lavander Oil and Balm as well as Rose Boquet Hand & Foot. There are also sustainable cosmetics like the Glass Skin Glow Set from Ellana Mineral Cosmetics, fitting for anyone who likes make-up.

There are also gift items suitable for men, like the stainless steel razor from loopstore.ph, a better and long-lasting item for shaving instead of disposable razors. Shampoos like the Lazy Boy Dry Shampoo from Paraluman, are also better alternatives to counterparts contained in plastic bottles.

Storage, bags, and clothing are also products that have been transformed by sustainability. For cases, Reduce Reuse PH offers silicone bags for storing food or other items, while Conscious Canvas has handcrafted roll-up cases for make-up instruments or utensils.

Locally-made bags and clothing are available from organizations like Gugma Artisan, which weaves totes made of a plant that produces banig; Anthill Fabric Gallery, which makes hand-woven clothing to accessories like the Abaca Pillowcase; Siklo Pilipinas, with lifestyle bags made of upcycled tires and inner tubes; and Maranao Collectibles, which makes accessories and clothing from a fabric that is usually used to decorate the malong.

Meanwhile, the LoveHopeFaith Group offers its Lifesaver watch that benefits cancer patients and various beneficiaries with 50% of the net proceeds.

Of course, there are also sustainably-produced food that are great alternatives to the usual sweet treats. For instance, Theo and Philo, the country’s first bean-to-bar artisan chocolate brand, offers bars that range from the classic Milk Chocolate to the bizarre Milk Chocolate Adobo and Dark Chocolate Labuyo.

Sustainable giving does not only have to involve the gift itself; the packaging also matters. The best way to do this is to simply go away with buying the usual gift wrapper. One can go from as simple as some unused paper or box to as sophisticated like the Japanese art of wrapping called furoshiki, which uses vintage scarves or fabric scraps. Adrian Paul B. Conoza





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