It’s the time of year when the glitz blitz hits and the pressure is on to buy! Buy! Buy! Our retailers are relying on us, we’re told, to keep the bottom line aloft like Santas’s sleigh.

Nuts to all that. Here’s a few ideas for things that will actually either do the planet or its people some good or perhaps fuel the ardour of the next generation of sustainability champions.

Jon Dee from Do Something put together a few suggestions for buying-that-gives, like purchasing charity Christmas cards; Oxfam’s Gifts Unwrapped [surely someone in your family would appreciate knowing a child got an education, a community got fresh water or a family got a pig, goat, vegetable seeds or chicken?]; the Gift of Sight from the Fred Hollows Foundation; donating to UNICEF anti-malaria kits and mosquito nets; or even giving your own time as a volunteer in your community.

Mr Dee also suggests that if you are given a good quality gift you really don’t like or need – gift it forward to an op shop after Christmas.

Planet Ark is asking that anyone who receives a new e-gadget or technology item for Christmas get in touch with TechCollect or go to the recycling near you website and make sure any old ones that have suddenly become old hat, redundant or simply don’t work anymore are properly disposed of.

The organisation has also put together a 12 Do’s of Christmas

  1. Buy good quality decorations that be re-used or make your own
  2. Check the office party organiser has also organised recycling for bottles, cups etcetera
  3. Avoid bad gifting – find out what people actually want, or go for a charity or experience option
  4. Choose re-useable or recycling wrapping paper – like paper – or we’d suggest get creative and use a bandana, scarf, cushion cover, or amusing tea-towel or BBQ apron
  5. Prevent food wastage
  6. Compost or worm farm food scraps
  7. Recycle food and drink packaging
  8. Recycle old e-waste items
  9. Give a recharger pack with anything that uses batteries
  10. Make sure your car is running efficiently
  11. Declutter the house and recycle [or upcycle,or give to charity all the stuff you don’t need, want or like]
  12. See if your local council has a mulching service for Christmas trees, or take it to the garden waste section of your local recycling facility

Or how about giving a piece of natural heritage?

Matt Fisher, EUA coordinator at Parramatta City Council suggested to us that readers might like to purchase someone they care about a plot of conservation forest through Yellowbox, an initiative of the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW. Each Yellowbox plot comprises a 10 square metre area of forest the recipient symbolically “owns”.

Mr Fisher said he purchased a plot in the Blue Mountains for partner Corinne Fisher for her birthday, and that “owners” are given the GPS coordinates so they can check on it via google earth or potentially pay it a visit.

“You can also buy full rural properties from the Nature Conservation Trust,” he said.

A game that has a good message – and no batteries!

Former Sydney teacher Andrea Thompson has created a family board game, Fair Go, that turns traditional Monopoly tactics on its head with an emphasis on winning the corporate game by doing good. In fact, approach it with a greed-is-good mindset and you can’t actually win!

The Fifth Estate tested the game on a small person, and it is genuinely fun, while also tying together important concepts like mining companies showing CSR by undertaking rehabilitation initiatives, retailers giving clothing away to the homeless, IT firms giving support free to disadvantaged customers, or the banking sector investing in community housing. The “luck of the draw” cards include things like winning a research grant, finding a cure for cancer or providing funds for bushfire relief.

Ms Thomspon said one of her aims with the game, quite aside from creating something families could play together that is engaging, clever and uses no batteries whatsoever, is to start conversations and encourage the culture of the “fair go”.

“My idea is that we shouldn’t put other people out of business to succeed – everyone should stay in business, and great businesses should be known for doing great things,” she told The Fifth Estate.

She said the game underwent extensive testing, including international toy trade shows, and said that kids found the whole idea of being good by doing good quite an easy concept to grasp, and also that it led to some interesting questions like, “Mummy, what’s a business innovation award?”

“I don’t see why we can’t have a game where you don’t have to put other people out of business. Why should we teach our kids that winning means hurting other people – so many game philosophies are like a war, where the winner is the last one standing.”

The game is being independently sold online, and translations are available at Ms Thompson’s website for the game rules and cards in key community languages.