Home Lifestyle Your guilt-free gift guide

Your guilt-free gift guide

Climate-friendly gifting ideas that would make Gretha Thunberg smile


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At the end of 2018, few people cared as much about the impact of our consumption on the planet as they do at the end of 2019. Now, thanks to the efforts of activists, scientists, devastating climate events, and of course our slow economy, we could be heading into Scrooge’s idea of a perfect Christmas.

That would be very sustainable, but no fun at all. At Twyg, we’ve thought long and hard about gifting and have devised a guilt-free guide.

First, think about making a donation to a charity in someone else’s name and give a bit back in the process. Some charities will even issue a certificate or card with the details of the donation, to give you something to hand over on the day.

You could also buy an experience instead of another thing that might very well end up on a landfill one day soon. We like the idea of memberships to yoga studios, film clubs, the Two Oceans Aquarium, museums like Zeitz Mocaa, national parks and botanical gardens.

This year, it’s perfectly acceptable to gift second-hand goods. Books, clothes, accessories, knick knacks, kitchenware…Markets can be Christmas fairs with the right mindset. Think creatively: a second hand picture frame plus a beautiful postcard could become a fresh new artwork. Tacky ceramic cats plus a coat of spray paint plus an air plant could be millennial kitsch chic. With a carefully wash and iron, second hand clothes, will be as good as new.

Finally, if you must buy new – buy consciously. Shop local, shop sustainable, shop mindfully. Below is our carefully curated list of gifts, both conscious and beautiful.

1. Lola & Co Organics

Olwethu Yekwani's skincare range serum.
Olwethu Yekwani’s skincare range serum.

Olwethu Yekwani launched a skincare range for the growing number of consumers of beauty products who want natural, organic products that haven’t been tested on animals. She believes that consumers must inform themselves and that they have the power to choose well. This year, we suggest buying her multipurpose balm and facial serum. The balm is a mix of shea butter, coconut oil, lanolin, castor oil, bees wax and vitamin E. You can use it on your hands, body and hair! The facial serum is made from a blend of oils, including rosebank, calendula, grape seed, argan, marula and baobab, as well as vitamin E. It’s for your face and neck.

  • Cost: Balm: R180 and Serum: R175
  • Order via Instagram: @lolaorganics

2. KhweenSheBar

Kwheenshebar’s Turmeric Soap and Koosh Cream.
Kwheenshebar’s Turmeric Soap and Koosh Cream. Photo: Georgie Wood

This duo pack of soap and cream is a gift that will keep giving. Once you’ve tried Kwheenshebar’s Turmeric Soap and Koosh Cream, you’ll not go back to commercially made products. The cold-pressed bar contains turmeric, raw shea butter, organic coconut oil, carrot oil and water. The soft and emollient cream is for both skin and hair and contains unrefined shea butter and organic hemp seed oil.

  • Cost of duo pack: R360
  • To order Whatsapp: 082 586 3809

3.Your Badge Statement bag

Big urban shopper bag.
Big urban shopper bag.

We’ve loved following this Cape Town bag brand. The upcycled urban shoppers deliver a meaningful message through an environmentally conscious ethos aimed at highlighting the importance of good bag habits. Its iconic silhouette, born from the shape of the world’s most widely used shopping bag, is made from a repurposed high-density polyethylene (HDPE) decorative shade cloth, selected because of its strength, durability and recyclability.


4. Kare Mesh expandable tote

Kare Bags are made from 100% unbleached cotton yarn.
Kare Bags are made from 100% unbleached cotton yarn. Photo: Georgie Wood

We love these gorgeous reusable shopping bag from Kare Bags made from 100% unbleached cotton yarn. The small company is woman-owned, community-driven and products are locally, ethically and sustainably made in Cape Town. The tote doubles as a handbag and a shopping bag.

5. Plasticity clutch bag

Plasticity clutch bag
Plasticity clutch bag.

Plasticity is a small business based in Graaff-Reinet in the Karoo where these unique and functional products are designed from discarded plastic from the community and environment. Products are created to inspire hope and change, at an individual level.

6. Pichulik bracelet

We love this woman-owned, fair trade jewellery and clothing company. Every season, the talented people at Pichulik produce a collection with an inspiring story. For this guide we recommend these bracelets to brighten up any look.

7. Ivygrace earrings

Ivygrace earrings
Ivygrace earrings.

Ivy Nhlapo is a self-taught creative based in Langa, Cape Town. She often works with waste to create new products, like bags. These earrings come in a range of colours and are light and easy to wear.

  • Cost: R100
  • To order call Ivy on 071 084 8055.

8. Chasing Bees swimming trunks (for the men)

Chasing bees is a small family-run enterprise based in Cape Town that makes a range of patterned swim trunks. The swim trunks are all designed, printed and sewn in Cape Town. Chasing Bees supports environmental conservation by giving a minimum of 5% of the profit on each pair of trunks sold to ujubee.com, an organisation dedicated to the study of wild bees and other pollinators and the conservation of their habitat.

Chasing Bees swimming trunks.
Chasing Bees swimming trunks.

9. Akina Label (swimwear for women)

Akina Label’s swimwear
Akina Label’s swimwear.

Akina Label’s swimwear is made from 78% Recycled Polyamide and 22% Lycra Elastane. Their yarn is made from EcoNyl, a regenerated nylon which comes from consumer waste found in landfills and oceans around the world, such as fishing nets and various textiles. Their products are cut and sewn in their factory in Cape Town and packaged in a 100% recycled plastic zip bag.

10. Waste Wise: 169 Ways to Save the Planet by Helen Moffett

This is a great gift. You can dip in and out of for years to come. Helen’s  tried-and-tested plastic-free tips are an essential guide to conscious living. The published poet, author and editor has always been waste-free and waterwise. She says, “My parents were green: an environmental botanist and an organic gardener. They both grew up on farms, and so did I for the first eight years of my life – in the thirsty Little Karoo. Having watched my parents deal with every scrap of waste our family produced for decades (there is no garbage collection from farms) means I’ve never been able to take an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude to waste.”

Published by Bookstorm), this book is available at good bookstores for about R226.00

On another note

Not only should you take care about what kinds of gifts you buy, try to reduce how much you do buy. We suggest you introduce a Secret Santa or White Elephant system, which can be fun. All you need to do is assign each person in the family to buy a present for another person anonymously. Often, a maximum and minimum price range is set. In this way, everyone gets one gift, hopefully something they will love.

Oh, and remember to think about the wrapping: if it’s shiny and glittery, it’s likely not recyclable. Either skip the wrapping this year and rather go for upcycled options (newspaper, colourful scarves, random fabric, scrap paper – that “too good to throw away, but we’re not really using it” wrapping paper from your birthday three years ago).

Above all else, enjoy your holiday and each other. Be safe and see you on the other side.

  • Follow us on Instagram @twygmag and twyg.co.za for all things cool and sustainable especially fashion. Additional reporting by and Emma Jones-Phillipson and Georgie Wood.
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Jackie May
Jackie May
Jackie May has worked in big and medium-sized mainstream media organisations in London and South Africa for more than 25 years. In 2019, she founded Twyg, an agency that creates content, campaigns and events to creatively inspire a transition to sustainable living. She launched the Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards in July 2019. Prior to launching Twyg, Jackie edited the South African edition of the international women’s fashion magazine, Marie Claire and was the Cape editor of the national newspaper, The Times. She has written a memoir, frontpage newspaper stories, countless stories, features and columns. She is on the South African team for Fashion Revolution. Jackie has an MA in Philosophy from the University of London and is currently studying at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch. She lives with her family in Cape Town.

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