Paying it forward is an expression that embodies the true spirit of sustainability. The term is used for describing a positive chain reaction that occurs when a beneficiary of a good deed repays the kindness to others, as opposed to the original benefactor. Instead of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”, we get “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch someone else’s back”. This not only creates a system where success is seen as collective, it also inspires generosity, compassion and genuine gratitude. And what is the festive season if not a time to take stock of these positive qualities in ourselves, and others.
The absolute best Christmas gift you can give this season is the gift of sustainability. The gift that keeps giving in a collective effort to sustain businesses, lives, and our beloved planet Earth.
We’ve taken stock of the past year and compiled a sustainable gift guide to help inspire your hunt for the perfect sustainable Christmas present. Each of which do their part in paying it forward to the world and its inhabitants.
1. Personal Plastic Credits
Did you know that every individual on earth is responsible for an average of 120kgs of plastic waste per year, 11 million tonnes of which ends up in our oceans? We have partnered with CleanHub to clear our conscience and stop the plastic waste we are personally responsible for from harming our beloved oceans. And help others do so too!
This Christmas, you can commit to clean oceans by purchasing your own Personal Plastic Credits to offset your individual plastic waste each month, or for a whole year. These plastic credits are a wonderful gift to our environment! By purchasing your credits you are not only doing your part to stop deadly plastic from reaching the ocean, you are also supporting a network of waste-management entrepreneurs in high-impact countries that provide evidence for every kilo of plastic recovered on your behalf. Win, win all round!
Purchase your Personal Plastic Credits HERE.
2. Upcycled gear
Are detailed prints, intricate fabric finishes and vibrant colours the new ‘it’ thing this season? Take a moment to consider that textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally after agriculture. A sombre thought. The clothes on your back are creating an impact on the planet that is equally as devastating as single-use plastic, deforestation, and industrial livestock production. Because of the increasing demand for textile production – also known as fast fashion – huge environmental corners are being cut resulting in water pollution, toxic chemicals being used in fabrics and dyes, and increasing levels of textile waste that just keep growing.
Co-founded by avid outdoorsmen and nature lovers Mike Schlebach and Jasper Eales, Sealand Gear has taken upcycling, recycling, and eco cycling to new heights. The lifestyle brand focuses on responsibly made gear and apparel that puts the earth at the front and centre of its endeavours, with all products either made from waste, or ethically sourced materials.
Read more about the lifestyle brand’s incredible work HERE.
3. Clean air
By its very definition, environmental sustainability speaks about responsible interaction with the planet, ensuring quality of life for future generations. Over the years, this has been expanded to include our own needs and well-being including education, health and… clean air. The lungs are the interface between our bodies and the external environment, and it goes without saying that for the best quality of life, the air we breathe should be clean. Pure air nourishes our lungs, blood, and the rest of our organs and without it, our immunity is compromised.
Give the gift of clean air this Christmas with Cirrus – a revolutionary new start-up investigating the application of functional plant compounds to human environments using air as its principal medium. Working closely with leading phytopharmaceutical laboratories in the Western Cape to develop botanical compounds for aerosol delivery, CIRRUS is designed to improve health, mood, and productivity at home and in the workplace.
Read more about the story of Cirrus HERE.
4. Electricity-free cooking
Household air pollution caused by indoor open-fire cooking kills millions of women and children each year. The risks range from pneumonia, asthma, and heart disease, to vision impairment, deadly burns and injuries. Unfortunately, those from low- and middle income countries adopting traditional methods of cooking, haven’t really had a choice to implement alternative methods that minimise these harmful, potentially lethal impacts. Sustainable alternatives are often costly, tricky to install, and not able to reach the rural areas where they are needed most.
Until this came along… The Wonderbag is a simple yet revolutionary alternative that is affordable, accessible, and rapidly changing lives using the oldest technology in the world – heat retention cooking. After bringing a pot of food to the boil, the pot can be removed from the heat source, and placed inside a Wonderbag, where it will continue cooking for up to 12 hours.
Read about the far-reaching impact the Wonderbag is having on empowering women and improving the health and well-being of the planet HERE.
5. Go for Fairtrade
If you haven’t done so yet, this is the Christmas to make the switch to Fairtrade; whether it’s coffee, cocoa, bananas, sugar and so much more. Not only are Fairtrade ingredients the best possible ingredients from the best possible producers, they are also ingredients that contribute to the sustainable treatment of people, as well as the environment. Some key points of the Fairtrade system include:
Conditions under which farmers work must be fair. This includes the honest equality between men and women, and the prohibition of child and forced labour.
Farmers are encouraged to switch to renewable energies where they can, and use waste and water resources sustainably.
Payment is fair, and cooperatives that work according to Fairtrade standards are paid premiums to compensate for their efforts.
It’s the only way to go, really.
Read more about our friends from Koawach who are doing some great things with Fairtrade cocoa and caffeinated guarana HERE.
6. Sustainable home products
There is no silver bullet to the complex issues facing the planet, but your small contribution can go a long way. As we’ve said before: think progress, not perfection. As the circumstances surrounding climate change continue to worsen, it is more important than ever before to start thinking about the future and working together to put pressure on corporations and governments to be better. The best way to do this is to strengthen the movement towards better environmental practises, and boycott those that aren’t making the much-needed changes to their products, packaging and practices.
While it may not be possible to completely transform your entire household and lifestyle to an eco-friendly one overnight, there are some small changes you can make to some common household items that you may use every day. Or in this case, every morning. Making small changes to your morning routine will not only give you peace of mind that you have made a contribution to the world, but it will encourage you to continue making these changes for your own health.
Read about our 10 sustainable alternatives for your morning routine HERE.
Merry Christmas everyone. Stay safe (and sustainable) out there!
With love from the team at Positive Earth!