Five questions to ask before you get out your debit card

  1. Does your loved one really need it? Everything you buy needs energy to be made and produces greenhouse gas as a result. The most sustainable item is the one you never bought. Would a donation or experience be better?
  2. Was the gift made or grown locally? Transporting goods and services takes energy. Wherever possible, choose gifts that have been made or grown locally. Buying locally will support the local economy and employment, and minimise energy use and emissions.
  3. Is the gift made from biodegradable or recycled materials? Plant-based products generally require less energy than synthetic-based products. Think wood, paper, cardboard, linen, organic cotton. Items made from recycled materials also take less energy to produce in general, generating fewer emissions.
  4. Are you buying from a carbon-conscious company? Do a little research to find out whether your purchase will be supporting a business that is taking action. Look for sustainability certifications(external link) that show a product, service or business is taking measurable steps to reduce or offset its carbon footprint.
  5. How is the gift packaged? Packaging goods takes energy. Choose products with minimal, low-carbon packaging such as cardboard or recycled materials. While you're at it, remember to take bags from home when you go shopping, create an e-card rather than use a paper card, and get creative with your gift wrapping.

"Many of us don’t want or need more stuff - but everyone appreciates a little kindness."

Christine Langdon, Co-founder of The Good Registry

Our top sustainable gifts

  • Plants
  • Bars of soap, shampoo bars or sustainable beauty products
  • Second-hand books by a favourite writer
  • An experience – a massage, concert tickets, yoga classes etc
  • Homemade treats such as truffles or lemon curd
  • Wooden toys
  • Second-hand games consoles and games or tablets
  • Donation to a charity
  • Anything from a business that has strong carbon credentials

Spark joy by donating to charity

If you don’t need more stuff this Xmas, say no to wasted energy and spark joy by donating to a charity.

The Good Registry has 65 charity partners that make things better for the planet, people and animals.

To put that in perspective, if every New Zealander replaced one $10 gift card with a donation to a good cause, that would be $49 million of goodness – and a lot less packaging and wrapping going to the landfill.

You can give Good Gift Cards or create your own Good Gift Registry and ask friends to donate to a charity you choose.

It’s also a great option for corporates to replace branded merchandise.

View all Stories

  • How people power drives climate-friendly business

    The way we shop sends an important message to businesses about what we expect from them, and the idea that acting on climate change can give a competitive advantage is gaining ground.

    • Low carbon choices
    • Living Gen Less

    22 June 2022

  • Unwrapping Christmas – say no to wasted energy

    New Zealand has one of the highest rates of waste production per capita in the developed world. Say no to wasted energy at Xmas this year with our tips for sustainable gift wrapping.

    • Low carbon choices
    • Living Gen Less

    8 December 2020

  • The zero food waste Christmas dinner

    Whip up a holiday menu that can cut your emissions and reduce waste to landfill, without losing any of that flavour.

    • Low carbon choices

    13 December 2021