What We Gave (and Received!) this Christmas!

A Mindful Christmas List?

Little by little, Jared and I are on a journey to being more mindful with our purchasing in life.  It all started with food but once we dove in there, we’re realising that there’s more to every purchase than meets the eye.  With the gifts Jared and I gave and put on our lists for Santa we tried to be meaningful and mindful with things that are fun and thoughtful but also thoughtful to people and the planet from start to finish.  It’s a slow journey of baby steps but we’re trying to make the move to fair-trade and ethical sourcing on everything we buy, and to eliminate trash wherever we can.  So as we planned for the holidays, we wanted to do Christmas in the same vein! Yes, it made gift planning a little more arduous of a task, but it was actually fun to discover what’s out there that can make a great gift and also do good at the same time.

So what did we give and get?

Within my family, we did big secret santa exchanges between our different homes across the globe! If you know me, my first secret santa gift was predictable! I found a locally salvaged and restored cast iron skillet for my brother (yes, santa just got a little less secret!) it was a beautiful piece and buying used/restored is that little bit better for the environment as it would have otherwise become trash. A cast iron skillet will last for life making it one of my favourite gifts to give! It’s also non toxic and healthy – a win all around. For my other secret santa I invested in a piece from a company I love that was going out of business, it meant I could get a really good value for the budget we’d all stuck to, but again it used up what would otherwise be waste. I added to it a travel bottle of Dr Bronners soap, (my go-to fair-trade, organic and non toxic brand), and a bar of fair-trade chocolate.

 
For stocking stuffers, we bought some other fair-trade chocolate pieces, and Dr Bronners lip balms  along with pure beeswax candles from a local store to help people eliminate the toxins that can come with a regular candle, and all natural organic tooth picks! 
 
Kids under 18 weren’t in secret santa which let me buy my sweet baby nephew a gift (happy auntie!!)- he decided not to have his birthday before Christmas, but there’s an Oli and Carol beetle bug waiting for you when you’re born little man! It’s a made from 100% natural rubber, eco friendly, and fully baby safe bath and play toy, and they come in the best shapes and designs!
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For Jared I bought from the same company that was going out of business and scored a gorgeous backpack, and added to it a glass coffee cup he’d been wanting.  Glass is a really safe and clean drinking option as it’s inert, doesn’t leach chemicals like any plastic does, and there is no question on contents of any paints and varnishes. So that one’s going to the office with him for his 3pm aeropress moments.
 
We gave and received a few gifts from Everlane, one of the leading companies for transparent ethically made clothing. Clayton was given a perfect pair of chunky knit grey mittens that I love, and a stylish striped longsleeve tee.  We gifted my sister in law my favourite easy wearing charcoal sweatshirt, that I love for lounge wear but the simplicity and cut makes it nice enough for wear out of the house too, and is perfect for a capsule wardrobe.  Also on the ethical clothing mission, my parents gave Clayton money for a new coat, which we used at Patagonia to get him a (gorgeous!) toddler coat.  Patagonia are leaders in eco friendly and ethical wear, and well made clothes mean multiple kiddos will end up sporting that jacket, which is great, cos it’s so stylish!

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One of my huge desires for the next year is to stop taking a to go boxes, from anywhere. We’ve already eliminated plastic bags, and this is my next step!  I know it’s going to take work, but thanks to my parents in law I now have a great tiffin box that I can keep with me to take leftovers without using a disposable container! Two well sized sections and a small one as well, it’s perfect for packing food to go, or restaurant leftovers. (My biggest challenge to myself is in ordering takeout and asking them to put it in my own box!). In the same vein, but actually more for health, we gave some 30oz stainless steel to go cups with stainless steel straws.  Eliminating plastic, styrofoam and even paper to go items is great for the environment but more importantly.

 
One of the most exciting for me was something I haven’t been able to do easily for two years.  Running a food business means I can’t paint my nails, but since I’m slowing down in 2017 I did some research on a safe and non toxic nail polish and Jared’s family surprised me with two from Aquarella! I love the colour and knowing my son can chew on them, and my body can wear them, without putting anything in our bodies we don’t want. (And I’m so excited about having nice nails!)
 
And finally, I gifted myself (cheating!) a few new ethically made clothing items on a trip to whole foods where I unexpectedly found a fab selection and picked up a great easy T shirt from Satvaan ethical sports wear brand I love!
 

Is is worth it?

Shopping this way, even though it took more thought and work, actually made each piece so much more exciting for me to land on and buy, and to know that we were getting and giving items that had benefit beyond our own generosity within our families.   And it’s fun to see family introduced to great new brands and ideas, and to know gifts are doubly doing good!
 
What are your favorite places for ethical shopping? Or if you’re new to it, what’s an area of life you could begin to shop or gift more mindfully this year? Drop me a comment below – I love hearing!