Find sustainable gifts for Christmas.

19 December 2013 — Where would Santa be without a polar ice-cap? And would we like to imagine his elves working in a sweatshop from a young age? These kinds of thoughts can make Christmas shopping extra-challenging – especially for someone like me who stands in front of racks of cheap imported pink plastic doohickeys trying to calculate carbon footprints while picking a gift for a favourite niece. Oh the guilt!

Ethical Consumers Australia has come up with a way of taking shoppers off the horns of the annual dilemma, with their Checking It Twice website. It’s kinda cool – you put in the giftees age, gender, and your relationship with them, area of greatest concern (environment, Fair Trade or animals) and your name and email address, and voila, the site’s team (aka The Ethical Elf) will get back to you with some cool suggestions.

The website is based on some pretty extensive research into just what’s available in Australia’s sustainable and Fair Trade marketplace. Some of the products will be familiar to anyone who’s been in a good organic supermarket, others are from way off the beaten track, which offers another bonus, how likely is it someone else in your family or office will have come across the DIY Star Wars Mini Amigurumi.

Gift options also include experiences and courses, such as short courses through Green Villages, Sydney, or a gardening class with Digger Seeds in Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens.

Looking through the gift stories on the site sure gave me a few good ideas – like earrings made from recycled silver, vegan candy canes, and the Eco Amp 1.0 – an amplifier made for iPods and iPhones made from FSC-certified 100% post consumer recycled paper.

The free service also provides information about other sticky Christmas issues like cards and wrapping paper and how to generally minimise the carbon footprint that otherwise comes with the traditional Christmas morning sea of crumpled paper and shredded gift tags.

Ethical Consumers Australia, the creators of Checking it Twice, is an independent non-profit organisation that also provides a fortnightly newsletter with information about making ethical shopping choices. Find it here.