Green gift ideas

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Thursday, December 1, 2011

At this time of year many organisations are thinking about gifts for their stakeholders. Gifts are an excellent way to show appreciation, but they also send signals to stakeholders about the values of the organisations giving the gifts.  

Some ideas for gifting that help to signal a strong commit to sustainability are:

Locally handmade products:

  • Handmade grass products from Inina, an Eshowe based craft cooperative, or designer Ilala Palms products, from Khumbulani craft, show that gifts can be made from renewable materials.
  • Jewellery made from recycled beads from Khubulani Craft and Inandi Crafts or paper hand made from newspapers and sugar cane waste from Inina.
  • Umcebo design produces art pieces such as chandeliers and lampstands from beads, reused waste and scrap metal, and Ukhamba Craft  produces hats, brooches and mats from textile waste and plastic.
  • The Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust employs local crafters who produce a variety of beadwork crafts such as Christmas decorations, necklaces and tableware.

Sustainability products for the home:

  • An energy monitor or a low flow shower head help receivers to become more sustainable themselves.  These and other gifts that support sustainable choices are available from

Donating a tree:

  • Food and Trees for Africa run an initiative whereby a fruit or indigenous tree can be bought and donated to a disadvantaged school, community, or organisation on behalf of an individual. Organisations can then purchase trees on behalf of their stakeholders and present them with a certificate that Food and Trees for Africa supplies. Seeds, garden tools and a permaculture start-up kit can also be purchased for disadvantaged communities and schools.


  • There are numerous conservation organisations to support. Money can be donated on behalf of stakeholders to show a company’s commitment to conservation of the earth’s resources. Donations to the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA), KZN Wildlife, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF- South Africa) can be made.
  • The Wildlands Conservation Trust has a range of conservation projects that aim to restore ecosystems and support livelihoods. The Wildlands “Green-preneur” programme helps unemployed individuals to earn a living from recycling and growing trees through a barter system.

Local charities:

  • Support the local children’s home, school or old age home by donating money on behalf of stakeholders or purchasing items that the facility needs, such as stationery or uniforms. The stakeholder can then be provided with a card from recipients.
  • Similar to Oxfam’s Unwrapped Initiative, Gifts for good SA enables an individual or organisation to purchase specific goods such as a birth certificate, stationery, a school uniform, food parcels, seeds or an HIV test for a disadvantaged individual on behalf of a stakeholder. The stakeholder is then sent an e-card that shows what has been purchased on their behalf.

Organising a tour for stakeholders:

  • Another idea would be to take stakeholders on a tour of an organization or initiative that promotes sustainability. In Durban the “Markets of Warwick” tour provides the opportunity for individuals to support local informal traders at Warwick Junction and to better understand the contribution of traders to the informal economy.

Amanda Botes