Green gift ideas for corporates

Submitted by: Margaret McKenzie, Thursday, November 8, 2012

<p>Woven grass products supplied by Inina (Image source: Inina)</p>

Woven grass products supplied by Inina (Image source: Inina)

The end of the year is a time when many organisations distribute corporate gifts.  While gifts are an excellent way to thank important clients and service providers they also provide organisations with an opportunity to reinforce their organisation’s values with stakeholders. 

If you give a gift “it should have integrity and have a story” says Kathryn Kure chief strategist for the eThekwini Community Foundation, a Durban based non-profit.  “A lot of corporate gifts are dumpable, you go to a conference and get the same shoddy pen” says Kure.  She recommends that organisations buy gifts that are well designed, made by local crafters and made from recycled material.   Locally made is particularly relevant in the context of global warming and reducing carbon footprints emphasises Kure.

Some green gift ideas for organisations are:

Gifts made from indigenous grasses

Indigenous grasses are a locally available renewable natural resource.  Since products made from grasses are natural and biodegrade easily they don’t cause pollution or add to waste in landfills when they are discarded.  Inina, an Eshowe based craft cooperative, has a great range of grass products.  Their handmade grass conference bags are a top seller. 

Gifts made from recycled material

There is a growing range of products made from recycled material in South Africa.  Crushed Lemon makes a fun range of products from industrial PVC reclaimed from discarded banners and billboards. Khumbulani Craft sells a range of beaded products made from recycled glass by Hlulani Beads.   Tapestries made from recycled and reclaimed items can be commission from Umcebo design.    Ukhamba Craft makes colourful hats and mats using waste from a nearby textile company.

Second hand gifts

A second hand product may not sound like a good gift, but there are now a number of businesses in South Africa that refurbish second hand items for resale. Reusing old products means less waste to landfill and less environmental impact resulting from new production.  Mint the shop refreshes a range of quirky second hand items and sells the finished products on-line.  

Donations as an alternative to gifts

A number of organisations also allow for donations on behalf of others.  For instance Food and Trees for Africa provides a facility to donate a tree as a gift. Food and Trees for Africa will arrange for the tree to be planted in the name of the gift recipient as part of an existing project with a needy community and send a personalised certificate to the gift recipient to mark the occasion. 

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Margaret McKenzie