Green Christmas gifts guide: where to find your eco-friendly presents in Hong Kong this year
- From bamboo drinking bottles to recycled silk clothing to cork yoga gear, there are plenty of environmentally friendly ways of giving
- We’ve got you covered on what to buy to keep waste to a minimum
Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, but it can also involve a lot of taking.
The overconsumption, overproduction and waste associated with festive seasons are the anathema of the current movement towards low-impact lifestyles that generate minimal waste.
However, there are times when a token of appreciation is necessary – especially if it’s a gift that helps someone shift towards a more environmentally friendly way of living. Even better if it lasts a lifetime.
A sustainable Christmas does not have to mean no presents and no fancy food but, when it comes to eco-gifting, usefulness and sustainability are the name of the game, and it’s great to support local businesses where you can.
For more conscious shopping, a Zero Waste Christmas Market will be held on Saturday from 11am to 5pm at Garage Academy in Wan Chai, hosted by Hong Kong sustainable living website Green Queen.
Make your own
Nothing is as thoughtful as a home-made gift, the go-to for many eco-warriors looking to cut back on waste and push back against the frenzied consumerism of festive buying. We love Nigella Lawson’s famed chocolate salame (vegan version here courtesy of food blog Gregarious Mammal). Hongkonger Hannah Chung, a prominent zero waste advocate, has DIY ideas for food that may have otherwise gone to waste – such as celery salt and peel potpourri – over on Foodie.
Bamboo drinking bottle
Along with straws, a reusable drinking bottle has become one of the token items of the waste-conscious movement, striking back against the damning environmental impact of single-use bottled drinks. There are lots of reusable bottles available, but this sustainably sourced once from Not Just Bamboo has pretty solid eco credentials and looks cool to boot. It’ll also biodegrade if you ever need to dispose of it.
Not Just Bamboo bottle; HK$240 at now-nowaste.com.
Vegetarian Food & Cultural tour
Forget fishballs and intestines: local tour company Hong Kong Greeters now offer a vegetarian version of their famed food tours.
Try xiao long bao, noodle dishes, tofu and even ice cream on a three-hour exploration of Kowloon and New Territories, paired with plenty of fascinating facts about the city.
Perfect for that friend who plans to make 2019 the year they finally give up meat.
HK$495 for adults; HK$225 for children. Visit HKGreeters.com for more information.
Green Queen x Live Zero Christmas Hamper
This year saw the opening of several ‘zero waste’ shops, the first of which was Live Zero in Sai Ying Pun, as an answer to the overpackaging found in conventional supermarkets. Its founders have teamed up with the team at Green Queen to create a giftable hamper comprising zero waste starter items.
It contains a bamboo toothbrush, reusable bags and a plastic-free sponge, alongside a few luxuries like a solid shampoo and a Christmas ornament. Everything comes boxed in a classic Hong Kong bamboo steamer, so there’s no packaging to throw away.
Hong Kong Zero Pollution
Encourage a break from screens during the school holidays and teach children about recycling and sorting waste in this charming game for two to six players from social Enterprise People on Board (POB).
Brought to life by illustrator Laine Tam, Hong Kong Zero Pollution involves collecting waste cards and ‘disposing’ of them in the proper bins to earn energy crystals.
Find for HK$128 at People on Board (option to collect from PMQ)
Recycled silk clothing
As larger fashion brands are still grappling with the concept of environmental protection, independent designers are taking things into their own hands. Su Pei Ho uses deadstock silk – fabric leftovers from mills – to create her delicate, marble-dyed garments which are made-to-order to avoid further waste.
Cork yoga gear
Feel well and truly one with the world next time you’re practising your sun salutations using yoga equipment made from sustainable materials, such as cork, which beats regular plastic and foam-based mats hands down by providing an antibacterial, durable, waterproof surface that biodegrades when disposed of.
Coconut Matter have raised the game for green beauty in Hong Kong, taking the market from homespun to stylish with their range of coconut-oil-based, plastic-free products. Whether it’s their fruity lip balm or subtly scented deodorants, each works remarkably well, making cutting back on waste in the bathroom seem like a desirable choice.
The festive season can be a challenging time for those who do not eat meat or dairy, but Hong Kong vegan bakery Vegelab has come up with a stylish selection of treats containing no animal products. Their plant-based, plastic-free gift set includes an assortment of biscuit within a reusable tin – perfect for gifting, dinner parties – or keeping for yourself.
Christmas Gift Box, HK$180.
Ice alone dilutes your drink, while plastic ice cubes impart a funny taste, can release chemicals, and cannot be recycled if damaged. These plastic-free steel whisky stones keep your favourite tipple cold and support Tai O Community Cattle Group, a local organisation that works to protect the wild cows of Lantau. Whisky stones; HK$120.87 on Etsy
Body care products are the standard go-to gift at Christmas, but why not empower someone to make their own? Learn to make soap that will not cost the earth at a regular series of workshops held in Fo Tan by Eko Savon. The company stands against the use of plastic packaging, artificial colours and fragrances and palm oil. In addition to two dates in January, they’ll also be launching solid shampoo and conditioner classes from February.
Basic soap-making workshop: HK$650, two hour duration.
Eco pet toy
If you have the kind of rambunctious pet that will tear apart every toy thrown its way, at least make sure that the toy is safe to chew and free from harmful substances, easy to repair, and can be disposed of sustainably. Plastic Free HK sells Eco Kitty hemp cat toys, while Hiccup Dog has a whole range of sustainable toys and accessories for your dog.
Socks get a bad rap as a boringly functional gift, unless they’re made by Hong Kong company Eureka Socks, which produces colourful designs with an eco message.
As well as being made from bamboo, which is more environmentally friendly than cotton, for every pair bought, Eureka Socks also donates a set to an underprivileged child or homeless person through its partner charities, and also gives back a portion of its proceeds to parent teacher associations throughout Hong Kong. You cannot get a greener footprint than that.