Buy better: think sustainably when it comes to gifts this Christmas

Jo Linehan and Dr Dorothy Maxwell on how to shop mindfully and with less waste

Use natural, festive greenery to decorate gifts instead of traditional plastic bows and ribbons.

Use natural, festive greenery to decorate gifts instead of traditional plastic bows and ribbons.

 

Aside from the obvious, this Christmas will be different for many of us. We’re buying smarter and spending money with more purpose, keeping the environment in mind all the while, particularly when it comes to beauty products. But there’s always more to do, and this Christmas is the perfect opportunity to change things up.

“Awareness of environmental issues is high in Ireland and demand for sustainable products and packaging is growing. According to a national survey run by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency in 2019, more than 60 per cent of Irish adults see climate change as one of the most pressing environmental issues Ireland needs to tackle,” explains Dr Dorothy Maxwell.

Dr Maxwell is a sustainability expert and has worked with international companies and organisations as a leader on the topic. Her mantra is “buy better” and she advises buying things that respect people and the planet.

“The choice of sustainable products across beauty is wide, so no compromise is needed on beauty, function or price these days,” explains Dr Maxwell.

“With myriad environmental crises staring us in the face – key trends for gifting in 2020 include going ‘zero plastic’, circular and giving experiences,” says Dr Maxwell.

Shop with sense

Jo Linehan is the founder of gaffinteriors.ie, and is the sustainability champion behind The Futurist podcast and newsletter, bringing the best of sustainability to inboxes across Ireland each week. Here, she gives her best advice on how to shop sensibly and sustainably for beauty gifts this Christmas.

“Take the hassle out of itby shopping at sustainable stores and edits,” says Linehan. “By shopping with these trusted brands and outlets you can be sure you’re supporting great companies and makers, without the stress of having to research everything endlessly yourself.

Jo Linehan: “Think long term; invest in items that will stand the test of time for those you’re treating.”
Jo Linehan: “Think long term; invest in items that will stand the test of time for those you’re treating.”

“Christmas shopping is enough work without having to worry about that too! Buy less but buy better. Instead of buying three small gifts for someone, get them one special present that you know they’ll adore and treasure. Think long term; invest in items that will stand the test of time for those you’re treating. The longer lifespan an item is enjoyed for, the better it is for the planet.

“The Kind is a brilliant Irish site that sells all things sustainable in the world of luxury beauty items. Other great places to browse and spend include The Clean Beauty Edit for toxic-free beauty and self-care essentials, as well as department stores like Brown Thomas and Arnotts, who have sustainable edits online where you can easily filter for sustainable items.”

“Shop locally and support those businesses in your area who will appreciate the support so much,” Linehan continues.

Dr Dorothy Maxwell: “The choice of sustainable products across beauty is wide, so no compromise is needed on beauty, function or price these days.”
Dr Dorothy Maxwell: “The choice of sustainable products across beauty is wide, so no compromise is needed on beauty, function or price these days.”

When it comes to beauty, many people already have a well-established skincare routine, or a cosmetics brand that is their go-to. Making the leap into the world of sustainable beauty can be tricky but Christmas gift season might be the time to do it.

Dr Maxwell says that Irish companies like Max Benjamin and Nunaia are key for making the change over to traceable, home-grown brands. For sustainable Irish beauty we are spoiled for choice, she says, with Nunaia (nunaia.com), Voya (voya.ie), Max Benjamin (maxbenjamin.ie), Irish Handmade Soap Company (thehandmadesoapcompany.ie), La Bougie candles (labougie.com) and many more.

Wrapping with care

“According to MyWaste.ie, on average in Ireland, 100 sq km of wrapping paper and more than 100,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are binned on Christmas Day,” she says, “so the best ways to save resources and avoid waste when gift wrapping is to prevent first, and after that, reuse and recycle,” Dr Maxwell continues.

She acknowledges that wrapping gifts won’t simply cease this Christmas, but says that if we must wrap, do so mindfully. Jo Linehan agrees, saying that eco-friendly options are there, and there are ways to make sustainable wrapping cool and festive. “There are many great options for eco-friendly wrapping paper and accessories that will still look special this season. Little Green Shop stocks some beautiful recycled paper, and Jiminy.ie has an entire range of sustainable wrapping options from labels to cards. I love to use natural, festive greenery to decorate my gifts instead of traditional plastic bows and ribbons. A sprig of holly or eucalyptus can look beautiful and different,” says Linehan.

Penneys are turning their brown paper bags into reusable wrapping paper this year.
Penneys are turning their brown paper bags into reusable wrapping paper this year.

Irish mega-brand Penneys are doing something rather genius this year with their brown paper bags – turning them into reusable wrapping paper. More than 1.8 million bags will get the chance to be reused as wrapping paper this Christmas. They are made in Ireland, will be in stores from November and are already made from recycled materials as well as being fully recyclable after you reuse them.