MY MONEY

Five Christmas gifts that save your pocket and the planet

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Australians receive more than 400 million unwanted gifts at Christmas.

A large amount of resources go into producing these gifts that often will end up unused or in landfill. For many, buying these gifts puts a strain on finances. Instead of buying "stuff" why not try these ideas to help both your pocket or the planet?

1. Give the gift of time or skill

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When I was a kid, rather than spend my pocket money (which usually had been confiscated for some misdemeanour), I used to make up vouchers for Christmas for my dad: vouchers like "one car clean" or "dig five rows of the allotment".

I got to spend time with my dad and these vouchers cost me nothing but time, (except for the time I accidently didn't dilute the car cleaner and a black car suddenly looked grey. I ended up spending a lot more time with my dad as I was grounded).

2. Give someone the experience of learning that skill they always wanted

Has your loved one always wanted to learn guitar, how to write a book, car maintenance or sourdough baking?

There are great resources for courses such as Workshop or We Teach Me. These courses are not only fun but great for meeting like-minded people.

You could be responsible for someone finally writing that book they always wanted to write or meeting their neighbours as a result of bad drumming!

3. Make something

Why not take one of the workshops yourself and make something.

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You can learn a new skill and could be making your own soap, candles, cheese or beer, all personalised, cheaper and potentially better for the environment than shop bought.

My family are going to be subjected to a lot of hand cream this year after I took a handmade skincare workshop.

4. It's a fix

We've all got that one thing (or lots) that we value but we haven't had time to get mended. Why not surprise someone by fixing that thing for them?

If its not your skill set, repair cafes are popping up all over now and cost nothing but time, you can also pick up a new skill and meet new people too.

Repair cafes like The Bower can cover clothing, electronics and furniture. It's a free advice service and not a guaranteed repair but definitely worth a try.

5. Regift

Perhaps a controversial one but if you are not going to use something, don't just keep in a cupboard or throw it away. There are always those gifts that we get given from multiple people, like tools.

Give these to someone you think will appreciate them, or if appropriate to a tool library like the Inner West Tool Library where they can be used multiple times. Just don't regift anything back to the same person accidently!

It's a wrap

And finally, Australians use more than 150,000km of wrapping paper during Christmas - enough to wrap around the Earth's equator nearly 4 times.

If you are going to wrap a present why not get creative? Use something that you are not going to use anymore like an old map book.

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Lexi Airey is chief executive officer of customer-owned Gateway Bank. Lexi is passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle that is good for both the pocket and the environment.
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