Sustainable homemade gifts that no one will ever want to re-gift
Making a meaningful gift is an art. Nevertheless, to surprise and make your loved ones happy with a gift, you don’t have to be rich or a “Fine Arts graduate”.
Sustainable gifts are very trendy, especially in recent years; and it’s not only me who thinks so: just type the words on the most used search engine and you’ll get over 10 million results!
However, I highly doubt that to make happy a friend or a relative ” a true environmentalist”, buying the umpteenth kit for the cultivation of mushrooms, the plantable pencils or the set for sprouts, from the “dreaded and colossal cartel for online purchases”, can guarantee the desired success.
I’d like to specify right away that I’m obviously referring to tangible ideas that we can prepare ourselves at home, with the commitment and sincere care that our loved ones deserve, so let’s talk about sustainable homemade gifts.
The way I see it, for a gift to be sustainable it must:
– be made with local and/or fair-trade ingredients: this reduces CO2 emissions and negative consequences on the climate; moreover it generates an input on the local economy, meaning the common wealth for workers;
– contain zero plastic (except the one to be recycled): this year let’s make a gift also to the environment and to future generations, avoiding objects and packaging containing plastic, which is everywhere, even in maternal milk;
– be useful to those who receive it: no more knick-knacks or objects that are of no use to anyone; it is time to reduce, if not eliminate, thoughtless consumption.
And here are some delicious ideas for sustainable homemade gifts that no one will ever want to re-gift!
Idea number 1 – Homemade jam
Made with organic and local fruit, perhaps with little sugar – this is my husband’s favorite gift, as he loves his oatmeal sweet and fragrant.
If this year your friend in question has been doing really well, you can be more generous and give a nice basket of mixed jams; for example lemons, oranges and chestnuts (find out how to make chestnut jam here).
For the lemon jam you can use 600 grams of untreated lemons, 200 grams of brown sugar and 75 g of water, with the following procedure:
Soak the slices of the lemons (well washed) for 2 nights, changing the water at least 2-3 times. Then boil them together with sugar and water for about 1 hour; after that put them in jars following the procedures indicated by the Ministry of Health.
Idea number 2 – Sundried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil
I just got a big jar of these a few days ago – with all my good will, it’s hard to get them to Christmas lunch, as good as they are.
So if you listened to me and made your own sun-dried tomatoes for the winter, you should now have the raw material for sustainable homemade gift number two.
But don’t worry, in case you don’t have them (read this article for the next tomato season) you can also buy them: better if organic, they don’t cost much even then.
The procedure is very easy:
soak the sun-dried tomatoes with red wine vinegar (or just water; or put them in oil still dry, without soaking); after squeezing them of the vinegar lay them in a sterilized jar, along with coarse salt, garlic to taste, capers, thyme, oregano (optional); fill with evo oil, pressing everything well so that air bubbles come out.
You can also gift them without putting them under vacuum, to be kept in the refrigerator for a maximum of 7 days; otherwise, perform the classic procedure of preservation (they would last 3 months), always following the instructions of the Ministry of Health.
Idea number 3 – Lacto-fermented vegetables (Sauerkraut) rich in probiotics
Here’s a gift that’s definitely healthy, easy to prepare and really very economical, even using organic and seasonal vegetables: after all, how much do you want cabbage to cost!
You’ll hit the jackpot if the recipient of this sustainable gift is someone who is aware of the value and importance of probiotics.
The process is very simple:
Wash a cabbage well and cut it finely into strips. In a large container, mix it with rock salt or non-iodized sea salt (it should have a concentration of 2.5% per 1 kilo of vegetables – in other words, use about 1 tablespoon of salt) and release the liquid from between the cell walls.
In a large sterilized jar place 1 garlic, some coriander seeds, bay leaf and black pepper seeds if you like; add the cabbage strips along with its water and repeat at least 2-3 times the stuffing with the garlic and the rest.
Place a weight on top of everything so that the cabbage is soaked in its own water, then close the lid.
Vent every 24 hours for 5 consecutive days leaving in a dark and cool place (otherwise, the risk of explosion due to the gases produced by lactic acid bacteria, is more than likely).
After about ten days your sauerkraut will be ready and rich in probiotics: starting today, you will bring them to the table of the New Year.
Idea number 4 – A beautiful bouquet of edible herbs and flowers
No, the poinsettia is not a good gift idea for an environmentalist.
To be able to grow a tropical plant in a temperate climate like ours, you need greenhouses; and since it is a photoperiodic plant, it needs lots of lighting and many phytochemicals.
As an alternative I propose a beautiful bouquet, able to satisfy all the senses and rich in nutraceutical properties.
To ensure that it remains a sustainable gift, buy strictly herbs and smells from organic farming: in the end they do not cost much.
The bouquet I recently received contains bay leaf, thyme, mint and rosemary: beautiful and very fragrant. But you could enhance it further with dried chillies, nasturtium flowers, or marigolds (for those who live in hot areas).
Rummage around the house among the things to recycle to wrap it: in case you do not find anything, a cloth napkin will be much appreciated.
Idea number 5 – Scented and dietary cookies
A nice box of cookies, made with little extra virgin olive oil, whole wheat flour, little sugar (better not refined) and that can maintain their crispness for up to 20 days, immediately brings the Christmas spirit into the house.
Iatlian wine cookies are vegan and can be made with orange peel and cinnamon, or fennel seeds or hazelnuts (to see the super easy recipe click here).
Idea number 6 – Fruit leather rolls filled with dried fruit
A delicious and healthy gift, 100% natural that will win everyone over… But intended only for real friends: because it requires a little more effort than other recipes, if you don’t already have the main ingredient: the fruit leather (in this article you can see how to make it with seasonal fruit).
If you already have the fruit skin, the process is very simple: just cut it into strips, fill with a filling containing nuts and peanut butter (or almond butter) and create small rolls to eat in one bite.
Place them inside small paper cups and create a package that can add a touch of magic to the tastiest of sustainable homemade gifts.
Idea number 7 – An herbal tea mix for those long winter nights
All you have to do is head to the herbal store and buy your favorite dried fruits and herbs and give them as gifts on their own or with enticing mixes.
I have an advantage because I love to forage, that is, collect fresh ingredients from nature itself and dry them myself: such as linden, hibiscus, chamomile, eucalyptus, mallow, blackberry flowers, rose flowers, pomegranate flowers, etc.. Or fresh or dried fruits such as apples, oranges, rose hips, lemons, red berries, quince; and of course spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, mint, rosemary, sage etc.
The mix I prefer when I’m feeling down physically is composed of: flowers and leaves of lime, lemon peels, orange, dried or fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks; to be completed with 1 tablespoon of honey and lemon juice.
When I want a romantic and reassuring herbal tea I use: cinnamon sticks, cloves, karkadè, dried apples and some rose flowers; already sweet thanks to the presence of apple and cinnamon, it does not require other sweeteners.
Idea number 8 – Potpourri of lactic ferments, yeasts and microorganisms in general
Self-production is the key to a sustainable existence; never having to buy bread, yogurt, kefir, kombucha and so on again is the best gift to receive when you care about health and environmental issues.
Sourdough starter is easily prepared at home (read my successful guide here); while for yogurt, kefir grains (both milk and water) and kombucha scoby, you have to go to the pushers (also called donors). The only thing you have to do is sanitize the glass containers and add a few spoonfuls of your treasure, thus accomplishing the most beautiful demonstration of friendship: sharing.
In the same way, gifting directly the sourdough bread with carob flour, spelt bread with liquid sourdough, yogurt which is far better than store-bought ones, ready-made kefir or kombucha could be even more appreciated by some friends.
Idea number 9 – Sprouts grown by you
No one can remain indifferent to the tenderness and nutraceutical richness of sprouts.
They are the favorite gifts of those who want something reliable, plus you are spoiled for choice: alpha alpha, lentils, broccoli, mung beans, mustard, red cabbage (also beautiful to see) are waiting to become a joy for the eyes and the immune system. They cost little and the only two things they require are water and a little love; and they meet all the criteria of sustainable gifts: local, plastic-free and very useful.
To find out all the steps you can read about them here.
Dear friends, whatever you have decided to gift, I am sure it will be heartily appreciated.
Otherwise you can always make a donation in the name of the person receiving the gift, in favor of environmental associations; or even in favor of CHE Food Revolution that tries to bring some awareness to your food choices, without the annoying and conditioning interference of advertisements!
Happy revolution, merry Christmas, and bon appétit to all