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Make a Difference 2019

Gifts for good: how to have a more sustainable Christmas

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Deirdre Garvey

Chief Executive, The Wheel

Christmas may be the season for giving, but it is also the season of waste. This festive season each household in Ireland will throw out 44 kilos of packaging waste. Not to mention the deluge of food waste, tonnes of redundant electronic devices and the mountain of discarded toys that will end up in landfill. 

The good news is that, with a little effort and imagination, we can all have a more sustainable Christmas that benefits both the environment and a range of good causes.

Local, sustainable gifts

Social enterprises selling sustainably produced goods are popping up all over Ireland and online. We Make Good on Dublin’s fashionable Fade Street is among the most recent additions. They sell a range of high-quality crafts made by people facing social challenges.

The Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun is home to a unique Eco Store, which sells sustainably made products from over 20 independent Irish suppliers and from their own reuse social enterprises.

If you are hunting for vintage fashion or unique gifts, look no further than your local charity shop. Focus Ireland’s Beloved Charity Boutiques sell both new and second-hand clothing, homeware, jewellery and high-end designer items at very affordable prices. The Irish Charity Shop Association lists more than 450 reputable shops on their website (www.icsa.ie).

Thoughtful giving

For the bookworms in your life, head to Oxfam Books on Parliament Street in Dublin or the SVP Bookshop in Middleton for a hand-picked selection of quality used book. Kids’ Own, an arts charity based in Sligo, publishes a delightful range of books, written and illustrated by children (www. kidsown.ie/bookshop). They recently published an environmental field guide for children called A Beak Like a Banana.

Animal lovers are also well catered for. The ISPCA has a range of animal-themed gifts in their online shop. Ditto Dogs Trust, which sells fun gifts for both your two-legged and four-legged friends.

For the person  who prefers to give rather than receive, Concern, Suas, Oxfam and Gorta offer a range of charity gifts that benefit communities in need, such as eco-stoves, solar lights, bicycles, school lunches and honey bees.

Experiences rather than throwaway goods

Experiences make excellent gifts, and they tend to be more sustainable too. Consider a voucher or annual membership of a community theatre, museum or arts organisation like The Ark, an art centre for children based in Dublin.

Nothing is more personal than a handmade gift. ReCreate in Walkinstown, Dublin 12 is an Aladdin’s cave of reclaimed craft materials. This thriving social enterprise makes art materials and educational supplies affordable and accessible to every sector of the community for all kinds of creative purposes.

Finally, if sustainability is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, visit www.sparkchange.ie where you will find a library of case studies of successful projects that can be replicated in your community.

For more information on The Wheel, the national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises visit www.wheel.ie.

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