A New Message from Eco Savvy

How to have a Savvy Christmas!

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas and welcome to our guide to having an eco friendly Christmas!

As tis the Season to be Jolly we don’t want to go all Scrooge on anybody but we have put together this handy information about some things you can do to reduce your environmental footprint this Christmas. 

We hope that, as well as being kind to the planet, some of these ideas might save some money, and might even be more fun than what you normally get up to at Christmas time!

Zero waste gift ideas

Let’s jump straight in with the biggie! We all know that consumerism is bad but a lot of people still enjoy giving and receiving gifts, and there is nothing wrong with that. A possible compromise could be to give zero waste items:

Eco products

We have a fantastic range of eco products in the Eco Savvy shop in Whiting Bay!

As it is our philosophy to try and help people live as environmentally as possible we try to keep the prices as low as we can and many of these products have no or only a very small mark up. Come in and get yourself an eco bargain!

Seeds

Looking for a present for a veg patch enthusiast, or someone who would like to start growing at home? Why not get them some seeds? 

Real Seeds are an ethical company who provide open pollinated, non genetically modified seeds and encourage growers to save their seeds after growing for use season after season. Two seed companies control approximately 50% of the global seed trade and this puts the future of food production for small growers at risk – Real Seeds are fighting this!

Food gifts

Everybody loves food! There are many Arran businesses producing food and drink, and many individuals making fantastic chutneys, jams, biscuits and sweeties in their own kitchen that they sell at fairs and coffee mornings around the island. You could make an Arran food hamper as a delicious Christmas gift!

Another idea is to bring together old family recipes and put them together into a homemade recipe book. Or look out for the Arran Eco Savvy Recipe Book filled with tasty recipes and food saving tips from Arran folks.

Media gifts

Another zero waste idea is to create a music playlist with songs that hold special meanings or memories. You can do this on Spotify or YouTube and share electronically.

Budget gift ideas

Whilst it doesn’t sound too romantic getting presents for someone on a limited budget means you often put more thought and care into your idea. Some low spend gift ideas:

Secret Santa

Although Secret Santa – where a present price limit is agreed and everyone’s names go into a hat to be picked at random, meaning each person only buys one gift and it is kept secret who the present giver is – is common in offices it can also be used in families, and works especially well in big family groups. 

Here are some other alternative Secret Santa ideas as well!

Book swap

If you have a friend or family member who likes reading why not agree to gift each other your favourite (or top 3 favourite) books. Once you have read them you can then chat about them over coffee or wine!

Charity shop presents

This is a great idea to do with a friend or sibling – why not agree to a budget and commit to buying Christmas presents only from a charity shop. 

The ArCaS and Eco Savvy charity shops both have an incredible selection of items ranging from clothes, scarves, mugs, beautiful glasses, and jewellery. You could buy a frame and use it for a nice photo. Your money goes a long way in a charity shop, for example, £5 would buy you 10 books in ArCaS!

You are not only spending time on a thoughtful gift but also supporting local charities AND potentially reducing items going to landfill!

Experience gift ideas

According to a recent study, in the UK we waste around £5 billion on unwanted Christmas gifts. In fact, for a lot of people gifts rank pretty low on the list of Christmas highlights!

“As for what people are really looking forward to at Christmas, two in five Brits (43.80 percent) say spending time with family is most exciting, followed by getting time off work (17.22 percent), the festive atmosphere (13.34 percent) and food (9.26 percent), compared to the joy of receiving presents (4.13 percent).”

Instead of buying a physical present why not organise a fun day out for example, jump on the bus and go to a part of the island you don’t visit very often, take a picnic with all your giftee’s favourite foods or you could get creative and organise a treasure hunt with a treat at the end.

Have you ever heard of geocaching? It’s similar to a treasure hunt but you use your phone to navigate to containers (geocaches) hidden in outside locations, some are easy to find, some more tricky. There are over 75 hidden all over Arran – enough for a few fun days out!

For something a bit different why not take your friend or family member to a night out at the theatre or to see some live music. The Arran Drama Association runs the One-Act Festival every year at the last weekend in February, where various groups from the island compete. The Whiting Bay Drama Group also does a few nights of drama over the summer.

Help a local charity!

Make a donation to charity instead of gifts. There are lots of organisations on Arran doing amazing work:

Support the fantastic work of COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust) who work tirelessly to protect our marine environment. You can make monthly donations or check out their online shop. The shop in their visitor centre also has some beautiful marine themed, locally made  jewellery that makes a lovely gift! 

Have you heard of the Arran Green Map? This is a map of environmental/conservation focused businesses on Arran, designed and produced by local man, Simon, which he provides for free! You can donate to contribute to his work here!

Did you know that Arran RNLI have a wee shop down on the pier in Lamlash?! Buy a few Christmas presents in here to support their work. Look how cool Arran RNLI are!:

Photo Credit: Nigel Millard

Do you know someone who’s into hillwalking? A great gift idea is to donate to Arran Mountain Rescue. The current Arran team is made up of 28 people who are all volunteers and their work is unpaid.

You can donate online here or alternatively buy some of their products for Christmas presents, like an Arran Mountain Rescue buff or reusable coffee cup, which are available in Arran Active and other shops on the island. Some pics of these absolute heroes!:

Support one of Arran’s local farm producers – Woodside Farm. During the summer they have an online shop where you can buy produce. Or a support membership costs just £10.

£10 will pay for a year’s membership of the Arran Access Trust which does loads of great work on the island promoting and maintaining access and paths.

Shop local

We’re so lucky to live in a place with lots of artists, makers, boutique shops and crafters. By spending your money with local people and businesses you directly help our local economy – every £1 that is spent on Arran goes round at least 8 times! 

The official “Shop Arran” weekend this year is Friday 29th November to Sunday 1st December. Keep an eye on the Shop Arran facebook page for discounts and special offers!

Other ideas!

Homemade Christmas gifts 

Spend some time together as a family and make your own Christmas gifts. Have a look at our Pinterest page for some ideas and tutorials of some simple, but lovely things that can be made at home.

Etsy

A great place to get unique, handmade gifts is the online marketplace, Etsy, where you can buy direct from the individual. This is a fantastic website where you can buy things that are completely unique, or even commission something specific. 

Also Etsy is the first major online shopping site to offset 100% of carbon emissions from delivery so you can buy from them and not have to worry about a negative environmental impact from shipping!