Have you all survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday? I sure hope so. Because today is #GivingTuesday and that’s not a way of saying “give away the stuff you bought in the weekend sales and then start shopping all over again.”

Giving Tuesday is about giving something back, and to mark this year’s hashtag frenzy, I wanted to highlight Send A Cow’s #DontWasteChristmas campaign. They recently carried out a survey with a bit of help from YouGov, and figured out that almost 60% of us will receive at least one Christmas gift we don’t really want this year. They estimate that in the UK alone, 60 million gifts given this year will have been unwanted.

The good news is, there were positive responses from huge numbers of people who also said they’d be happy to receive charitable donations instead of (or as well as) stuff under the tree.

Unwanted Christmas Gifts Xmas Waste Big Ben

Ever wondered what 60 million unwanted Christmas gifts might look like next to Big Ben? Well now you know.

Gift ideas from Send A Cow

There’s something for just about any budget in Send A Cow’s selection of giving gifts, from a £7 donation of gardening tools so that a family can grow their own food, up to and beyond a £99 donation to creating an allotment. Anything you go for helps to support families living in poverty in places like Uganda and Kenya, and it’s not all food-related – you can sponsor a child’s education, pay for a bicycle or fund the installation of a tap in a location with no running water.

You can still give your loved ones a Christmas pack telling them all about the donation you’ve made in their name, or if you’d rather keep things zero-waste, you can keep things simple and send an e-card instead.

I know some herbivores in my readership might not immediately be won over by the notion of sending a cow or chicken as a gift, but I think it’s important to bear in mind that not everyone in this world has the privilege and luxury of choice. When I was in Ghana I saw first-hand the difference that a gifted goat can make to a family in need, and though I spent my time there planting fruit trees and helping with other development tasks, I think it’s important not to write off other forms of human aid because of a tunnel-vision focus on animal activism.

Kenya Vegetable Garden Charity Gifts

Other Christmas inspiration

Last year, I put up a post about places you could find ethical Christmas gifts – things that you can put under the tree, but which fund charities or are super eco-friendly. This week, I’ll be sharing a new post on alternative Christmas gift ideas, focusing on things like charitable donations and experience days that can be given without gift wrap – and which might help to avoid a little bit of waste this year.

There ain’t nothing wrong with revelling in festive lights and the giving of thoughtful ‘things’ you’ve spotted for the ones you love, but if you’re struggling to buy for someone this year and are thinking of hedging your bets on another DVD or pair of socks, consider sending a charity gift that could really make a difference to somebody’s life.

Thank you to Send A Cow for providing the images for this post, and for donating one of their #DontWasteChristmas gifts to a family in Africa on my behalf.

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