A Greener Mothers Day
Written by Julia Schafer
Being a Mum I am looking forward to Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. I tend to think that the real Mother’s Day is actually the birthday of my one and only child as this is the day I truly became a mum, but then we can’t distract from the special day of the birthday boy to make it all about ME now, can we?
We tend to get caught up in the consumerism of Mother’s Day and I recognise that I have been known to rush off on Saturday before and buy the gift I think my Mum would like rather than spending time thinking about a gift that expresses my love for her. So this year it is my intention not only to think about the sentiment behind Mother’s Day but also to consider Mother Earth and the impact of my gift purchases on the environment.
If you, like me, are wanting to leave a lighter footprint on the Planet this Mothers Day I have put together this list of five things you can do to celebrate your Mum that won’t cost the Earth or put a dent in your bank account and I hope it inspires you to follow suit and think twice before you purchase mass-produced, over-packaged goods with no sentiment attached.
Hand Made Gifts
Remember when you were in Primary School there was a Mother’s Day stall? Dad would give you a few dollars (or even cents in my day) and you would file past all the doily covered toilet rolls, some lovingly crocheted coat hangers, potted plants and handmade bookmarks and would select things that you were sure your Mum would absolutely love. Handmade gifts never go out of style and generally have no packaging associated with them.
Weekend markets are particularly great places to go to source packaging-free gifts but even better what about using your own skills and making something with love. How about this year you cook a batch of scones or one of my favourites, Banana Bread, wrap it up in a lovely linen tea towel and pop it into a basket with a jar of locally produced honey. This will give Mum four presents in one and she will appreciate the effort that you have gone to by making the gift yourself.
I’ve found some lovely local businesses through Instagram and by interacting with the local Facebook Community Group. By connecting with local producers and makers you can lighten your footprint on the planet by cutting down on the distance your gift has travelled to make it to you.
My Mum particularly likes lovely, fragrant soaps for the bathroom and so this year (spoiler alert Mum) I am going to buy her some handmade soaps from a local family business. The soaps come in brown paper bags which can be reused or composted and I will probably pair them with either a hand-crocheted cotton washer, some linen napkins or a scarf to package the soaps and add to the present.
Mother's Day is a time of year when we get together as a family and the siblings come from far and wide to be with Mum. This calls for a family lunch, usually al fresco amongst the trees and roaming chickens in our back yard. This year, being that it is also MY Mother’s Day and I don’t want to do any dishes, I am going to set the table with compostable plates and napkins. These days you can buy all manner of bamboo and compostables for the dinner table. By using compostable plates, serving trays, cups, serviettes and bamboo cutlery it will avoid me, or any of my guests having to spend the end of a relaxing day up to our armpits in dishes and all of it can go in the worm farm or compost heap to add nutrients to the soil.
Adult colouring books are definitely the flavour of the month and you can either Zen Doodle your own or buy from the local newsagent fairly cheaply. What better accompanying gift than a box of Sprout Coloured Pencils! Available from Wood Have Thought these pencils once they have been used and sharpened to a stub can be planted in a pot, given some water and sunshine and will grow into a variety of herbs and flowering plants. A unique gift that has multiple uses and keeps on giving!
Cut flowers, whilst lovely have a very definite use-by date, but potted plants last forever (with a little care and attention). If flowering plants are not your Mum’s thing then consider potting up a herb planter that she can keep on the kitchen bench or window ledge. It’s a great way to avoid those plastic tubes of herb pastes and packaged herb cuttings that you get in the supermarket and they make the kitchen smell terrific!
Mother’s Day cards have been out in the shops for about a month now and whilst it is lovely to write out your feelings for your Mum in a glossy, sparkly card it does leave an impact on the Planet that it would be better to avoid. Cards made with glossy finishes are not recyclable or compostable and that glittery stuff is basically ocean choking microplastics.
Have you heard of Seed Cards? Usually sold in flower shops, small boutique homewares shops or online, these cards are made with recycled paper, printed with water-based non-toxic inks and are embedded with seeds for flowing plants and herbs. You can write your sentiments to Mum in the card and once Mother's Day is over she can plant it in a pot, water it well and be rewarded with a living gift for years to come.
I hope this has given you a few different ideas for Mother’s Day this year. I’m sure your Mum will be delighted to receive any or all of them and you can feel great about putting in some effort, supporting Australian small businesses and leaving a lighter footprint on the Planet.
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