Go Green: Give a Gift in Glass

With December fast approaching, the holiday season is just around the corner! And suddenly you have a long list of family/ friends to buy for, and you find that you are short on ideas (and funds!) on what to buy. I have listed below some suggestions, with links, for easy handmade gifts plus ideas for eco-friendly packaging, wrapping and tagging. All can be presented in reusable glass jars such as mason jars and simple utility jars with screw-on metal lids, and are easy to ‘dress up’ for gifting.


Even staples such as cereal, vinegar, salt and dried herbs can be lovely to behold!



1. Recipe plus ingredients in a jar: The ingredients are presented in visible layers: simply mix and make.


2. Moisturizing Scrub And Shave: Scented with sweet vanilla. A lovely leg shave and/ or skin softening exfoliate. Contains vegetable oils, Epsom salt and vanilla extract.


3. Recipe for Multipurpose Bee Balm by Bea Johnson. I carry a small glass jar in my handbag/ purse for shiny, moisturised  lips and nails and to highlight and moisturise cheekbones and brows. See also her application suggestions below for wood and leather….



4Bath salts/ shower exfoliate: (use fine sea salt, NOT coarse, if you are intending to use it as a skin scrub)…and if you want to colour your salts with all natural ingredients, see Here…..


5.Vanilla extract, looks cute (and smells delicious) in a small glass bottle with screw top. Add a handwritten for a simple recipe (Here’s a suggestion: add a few drops to to tea, coffee, hot chocolate, soya milk etc)  …How to make vanilla extract


6. Homemade muesli in a jar presented with a recipe for homemade yoghurt 


7. A jar of dried fruit and nuts; homemade fudge; green and black olives presented in olive oil with a sprig of garden herbs; small biscuits or cookies etc.


8. Handmade soap in a variety of colours/ fragrances : (find a health shop or farmers market where they make large blocks, and you can slice off the amount that you need) : cut up a piece into small blocks, place in a jar, and add a few sprigs of herbs from the garden.


9. Cleansing grains. I used equal parts of rice flour and white kaolin clay, well blended. This feels lovely on the face, either as is or mixed in with your usual facial soap or cleanser. Use once or twice a week: massage gently over wet skin and rinse well.

This sample is part of a gift to my cousin earlier this year.



10. If making a gift just feels all too much, you can still give a gift in glass! This miniature jar of pure honey comes with a little wooden honey server. Available from Earnshaw’s Natural Products at Sylvia’s Market in Johannesburg




You will want your jar to look special, interesting and “gifty”. Try these simple, natural ideas for eco-wrapping and labelling….


1. Some very easy suggestions here , using an old calendar or even old magazines  or saved wrapping paper.

2. Easiest gift tag: handwritten, and cut out using pinking shears. With recipe for Orange Scones attached…


3. Consider adding colour to natural string and hessian to tie onto your gift: use the natural dyes of beetroot, turmeric, food colouring etc (see here for diy dye!)

4. How to wrap in cloth Using scarves, tea towels, t-shirts, fabric off-cuts, vintage and lace fabric etc (you will find some lovely pre-owned vintage cloth tableware from Hospice and other charity shops)

5. Beautifully natural handmade gift tags,  from the garden and bits and pieces in the home.



Baking soda in a glass jar: must-have in my kitchen; so many uses. Even everyday items look a bit special in glass!





10 Green tips and tricks for November




1.Loaves of bread are a staple in most households and it’s not just for sandwiches! Bread which is less than fresh can be used to make a delicious, cost saving, sweet or savoury Bread pudding. For other suggestions on waste free ways to use ends of bread see point 10 here:


2.Couscous is a very quick and versatile grain that can be used like rice. It requires only soaking to prepare: In a small pot, boil one cup of water (or boil one and a half cups of water if you prefer a softer grain). Add one 1 cup of couscous, stir briefly and remove from the heat, keeping the lid on. Taste for readiness after about 5 minutes; leave for longer if preferred. Enjoy as is, or add seasoning such as salt, butter, oil, herbs, spices and lemon zest. Use as you would rice as part of a main meal, or allow to cool and include in salads.

Couscous is easy to find in cardboard packaging as opposed to plastic, which is another reason to buy it! I have yet to find it in bulk buy bins, which would be even better, of course. See point 9 here for suggestions of brands that are packaged in cardboard/ paper rather than in plastic:


3. Here is a good ‘standby’ for dishwasher detergent powder, if you find you have run out of your usual: In your dishwasher’s detergent compartment, place 1 teaspoon of your usual liquid dishsoap (whichever brand you normally use for hand washing your dishes) On top of the dishsoap, place 2 tablespoons of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). Close the detergent compartment. Then fill the rinse compartment with white spirit vinegar, and close the compartment. Wash a full load of dishes as normal. Even better is my chemical-free recipe here , which is the one I have been using regularly for over a year now, with good results.


4. Make your own cooling peppermint spray with water and essential oils. I carry a 100ml spray bottle with me at all times (it lives in my handbag :)), especially in hot weather. Use 100 ml of water, preferably distilled, or at least pre-boiled and cooled. Add 6 drops of peppermint essential oil and stir to combine. You can also add a large pinch of epsom salt to soften the water and assist blending of the oils with the water. (Scroll down to the foot of this page for suppliers of oils, salts and containers).


5. Use Tea as Self-Tan. I use normal black tea (Five Roses is a well known brand) or else the Khoisan black tea (such as their Earl Grey) which is produced in South Africa. If you are a well established Zero Waster, you will no-doubt favour loose teas, as opposed to teabags. At the moment I use both options. The teabags are the most convenient option for my Self-Tan recipe as follows: place a teabag in a cup and add a little boiling water, just enough to thoroughly moisten the teabag. Leave for at least 5 minutes for the water to draw the natural dyes from the tea leaves. Then use the teabag like a sponge to ‘paint’ the dye onto the legs. I find this is the perfect way to add a little pop of colour to winter white legs. Be sure not to add cremes, lotions or oils to the skin just before self-tanning, so that the colour can be applied smoothly.


6. Make use of Wiki-How! Here is one of my recent searches on using leftovers….


7. Give up stickers pasted onto jars (creates waste), and write straight onto the jar with a permanent marker. This jar of curry leaves has been living in my freezer compartment. Once used, the black marking washes off easily and the jar is ready to be re-used.



8. You don’t need a salad spinner. Simply wrap your rinsed greens in a clean cotton kitchen towel, making sure that you can grab a fistful of cloth at the ends, so that the cloth becomes a bag containing your greens. Go outside or lean out of the window and SWING THAT CLOTH AROUND WITH MEANING till the contents come up (almost) dry.



9. Buy a small coffee grinder for whole spices and seeds, or use the grinder attachment on your blender. Freshly ground spices are much more flavoursome and mouthwateringly aromatic than previously ground (and possibly long on the shelf) spices from your supermarket. And the same applies to seeds such as flax, pumpkin, sunflower etc. I grind up a fresh batch of mixed seeds every few weeks which I keep in the fridge to sprinkle over oats and use in my gluten-free pancake mix. Simply wipe clean with a dry cloth between uses.


10. And lastly, as well as your general household waste and recycling, make sure that you are managing your ‘bigger’ waste and recycling, such as e-waste and industrial waste.

Go to Remade Recycling Here…


Remade Recycling, established in 1987, is a trader of all grades of recyclable material.

Remade provides a multitude of waste management services specialising in the minimisation of waste and collection of recyclable waste. Remade is operational in most of the major regions in South Africa.

Remade Recycling is a member of the Institute of Waste Management and is very active in the war against waste. By partnering with customers and communities and providing an off-take for most recyclable products, Remade promotes separation-at-source of recyclable and non-recyclable waste.