Gifts that don't cost the Earth

Don't you just love it when someone gives you a present that shows how much they care for you? Something you need or will enjoy, or has personal meaning, given with sincerity? It doesn't have to cost the earth, in either sense. All the material things in the world can't make people happy.

This pages is for gift ideas with transition in mind: minimal greenhouse gas emissions, made locally - ideally both - and some of them cost very little or even nothing at all. These are the suggestions we have had so far - Do tell us your ideas!

Low-carbon gift ideas from Mill Road Winter Fair

Thank you to everyone who contributed these - there are some great ideas! And a big thank you to Rebecca and the people at Wintercomfort who made the tree that these ideas were attached to.

  • Seeds for vegetable plants - or the plants themselves e.g. fruit trees/bushes
  • A lesson in a skill that you can you and they might want to learn e.g. sewing, crochet, knitting, bike repair, cookery, DIY, playing the guitar
  • Offering to sort out one of their kitchen cupboards (or all of them) or some other part of the house (ideally somewhere you know they'd like you to sort out or they'd like some help with - some people are quite possessive over their kitchen cupboards!)
  • Eco-friendly gifts (good selection on-line, better still bought locally)
  • Choose a library book they'll like and wrap it up, then offer to return it for them (make sure they know it needs returning and by when!)
  • A family concert - perform some music/dance for your family - or perhaps some artwork
  • Plates/bowls made from leaves (e.g. this leaf bowl as demonstrated at our skillsfest
  • An IOU for doing the washing up (or any other household chore that will be appreciated)
  • Origami frog from recycled paper
  • Something from your allotment
  • Create a recycled calendar
  • A jigsaw which you've already done and are willing to pass on (providing it's still in good condition)
  • Trees for planting
  • Seeds for a herb garden
  • A jigsaw puzzle with a picture of a family photo on it
  • Home-made biscuits/cakes
  • Theatre tickets
  • Box of vegetables from the garden
  • Cuttings from garden plants potted up
  • An umbrella made of recycled plastic

Experiential gifts

  • A gift of hospitality: an invitation to a family meal, or just tea, at a time of their choice
  • A voucher or promise of a massage, perhaps with aroma therapy (you can buy the oils and do it yourself or offer a session with a local professional)
  • You could plan for a whole day of leisure in Cambridge: don't forget the Botanic Gardens (at any time of year), and the museums, many of which are free, as well as bookshops, cafes and cinemas.
  • Go-Ape in Thetford Forest - miles of cycling and walking trails with obstacles to challenge your agility and team work.
  • Tickets to the theatre or to a show: don't forget there are many amateur and fringe productions at the Mumford Theatre, ADC theatre and the Junction as well as the more famous Arts Theatre and Corn Exchange. The Arts theatre also offers a membership scheme: 35 single or 50 for joint for 1 year, gets you half price tickets or two for the price of one on first nights, plus other benefits including meeting the cast on selected productions.

Skills and education

  • Using or sharing a skill that you have: perhaps making clothes, DIY, singing, cooking ...
  • A favourite recipe - with or without demonstration
  • Vouchers or promises for courses or books on transition skills - there are many sources including
    • LILI (Low Impact Living Initiative) offering a wide range of subjects from how to cultivate mushrooms or make your own skin-care products to generating biogas. Vouchers from as little as 10.
    • CAT (the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales) for energy, gardening, building and all things sustainable.
    • The Soil Association Organic Farm School, offers practical courses at organic farms across the UK in growing food, rearing animals, cooking and rural crafts, learning directly from organic farmers and expert practitioners.
    • Membership of Garden Organic, the UK's leading organic growing charity, gets you discounts on their courses and workshops, free expert advice, factsheets and a quarterly magazine.
    • The Permaculture Association
  • A regular subscription to a magazine such as Permaculture Magazine or The Ecologist (currently with a special offer price of 17 for a year including a free book worth up to 17.50).

Putting in effort to show you care gifts

Something you know they will like

  • A gift donation to a charity or campaign they support
    • perhaps membership of the Woodland Trust, managing and restoring native woods across the country: they have planted 8 million trees!
    • or the National Trust who manage land, coastline and historic houses and gardens.
    • or you send a goat or chicken to someone less fortunate, or make a donation to Trees for Life... (there are lots more of these style gifts e.g. on the Oxfam web-pages).
  • Something beautiful which has been made locally, perhaps jewellery, clothing, tableware, pictures, tools. For a wide selection of arts and crafts and fair trade imported goods try
  • A gastronomic delicacy from Urban Larder (though I gather their range of relishes with names such as 'Vampire Extreme' are not quite what you might call delicate) or anything else from the sources listed on our local food outlets page (map here
  • A bike trailer - to help them reduce their carbon footprint and get fit
  • An electric bike: Electric Bikes in Hope Street Yard off Mill Road has bikes starting from around 500.

Our Mission

Transition Cambridge aims to help Cambridge make the transition to ways of life that are more resilient in the face of rising energy prices and a changing climate.

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