Metro Gift Guide 2019: Sustainable Gift Ideas Everyone Will Love
This list keeps the right balance of thoughtfulness and practicality, keeping in mind how it also benefits our health, community and environment, as much as how much joy it will spark.
I personally don’t want to splurge during holidays mainly because I want to avoid adding to the clutter and secondly, to be spared from the "carmageddon" and the chaos that comes with holiday sales.
I also agree that we shouldn’t have to go broke just to express love, although I'm pretty guilty of doing the opposite of that. Which is why this list of carefully curated gift ideas is especially close to my heart because it is just the right balance of thoughtfulness and practicality, keeping in mind how it also benefits our health, community and environment as much as how much joy it will spark.
Organic Veggie Basket
Bukid Fresh is a farm-to-table e-commerce that delivers zero-waste. Which means the vegetables and fruits we order come in a charming bayong. As we are the third biggest plastic polluter in the world, it is imperative that we avoid unnecessary packaging especially single-use ones. Formerly known as E-Magsasaka, this start-up aims to empower farmers to receive fair pay for their harvest by selling directly to us, the consumers. Bukid Fresh was first introduced to me by my good friend and social entrepreneur Juana Yupangco of Mesa Ni Misis, now most of our friends have been regular clients since. Order here.
Theo Philo is an award-winning global Filipino chocolate that exclusively celebrates local flavours like green mangoes, barako coffee, and can you imagine, Adobo? This Balikbayan favourite comes in the most intricate gift-ready packaging that is personally designed by the founder himself, Philo Chua. They have also come up with chocolate coated dried mangoes and an instant drink. Purchase here.
Coscao is the first none-dairy chocolate that is healthily sweetened by coconut nectar produced locally. With export quality Cacao beans from Davao, this guilt-free alternative chocolates is the obvious treat for your fit fam. Available at Healthy Options.
Wholesome Snacks & Specialty Dates
Chef Roby Goco of Cyma and Green Pastures recommended Rosel Dates to me before when I still had a gluten-free bakery line. They have the most accessibly-priced premium dates in the country and they recently launched their Pili-coated dates which I tell you, are better than caramelized macadamia. Dates have one of the lowest glycemic index too. You can also choose them plain, with walnuts, as a syrup or even a paste. Rosel Dates are available at Salcedo Market, contact them at (0917) 5286396.
Ritual coconut granola is one of those munchies that I as a baker can easily make but would rather just buy if they are this good and at such a friendly price. I’ve been hoarding for my friends and family since—best to call ahead to see if they have stocks as it sells fast. Baron Method crackers keeps me satiated when I know I’ve been over doing it on “good sugar,” ideally energy should come from complex carbs and these makes it yummy to snack healthily. Baron Method is located at Shangri-La Plaza Mall.
Spreads & Jams
I used to not get why people liked spreads and jams until recently, when it was all I could manage to prepare in between shoots and meetings. I love how I can just top in on toast, boiled sweet potatoes, vegetable cold cuts, and even just a dip for a banana or apple. That’s instant fuel for the body. The healthiest spreads and jams can be found in Down to Earth, Healthy Options branches, Real Food BGC and Molito and The Naturale Market, Burgos Circle BGC.
Nutritionist's Gift Crates
Baron Method curated a nutritionist approved pantry crate that features msg-free seasonings, gluten-free snacks, meat-free alternatives, organic condiments and can even include a gift certificate for a professional assessment with founder and esteemed nutritionist Harvie De Baron, who made a name for his successful work with olympic athletes and in reversing chronic and auto-immune diseases. This expertly curated pantry that celebrates food as medicine is available in the Baron Method clinic at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall or can be ordered online. Log on here.
Family Farmed Organic Products
Lorenzo's Sanctuary was recommended to me by friends from the south who are big fans of their family recipes. Supporting Lorenzo who is differently gifted with autism sends an encouraging message that even if we fall into a different spectrum, we can still create positive impact in our community and in this case, through their dried fruit mixes, homemade jams and tastefully spiced vinegars which can all be ordered in a holiday basket. Check out @lorenzosanctuary on Instagram.
Healthy Pantry Picks
Echo Store pioneered organic stores in the Philippines to make community-based products accessible. Popular for healing teas, fair-trade coffee, organic produce and healthy snacks it is a go-to for msg-free and all-natural condiments that makes for a healthy and practical gift that even the most discerning taste will appreciate. Available in Echo Store branches in BGC, Makati and Centris.
I love how Keto demonised carbs and has since then been debunked about it by both the Dietary board and the Doctors Association. Unrefined carbs is the body’s primary source of energy and is brain food; I like to get my resistant starch which, doesn’t immediately convert to sugar in the form of whole grains, which makes for perfect addition to any pantry:
The Naturale Market is a zero-waste health store at the heart of Burgos Circle that caters to mindful consumption by encouraging customers to bring their own containers and bulk buy complex grains that helps with weight management like Sorghum, Adlai, Whole grain rice, and local flour alternatives. Located at Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City
Real Food is a neighborhood whole foods store that carries some of the purest ingredients that you wont otherwise find else where in Manila. They sell activated nuts and seeds, dehydrated and freeze-dried fruits that are not sweetened, dairy-free cheeses, ready-to-eat meat alternatives to name a few. You can also request a charming organic fruit and vegetable picnic basket that will surely be adored. Located at Icon Building, Bonifacio Global City, and Molito, Alabang.
Ritual started the zero-waste movement in the Philippines and remains to be the first choice for hard-to-get local delicacies that’s thoughtfully sourced from different provinces and sold as seasonings, condiments and ready-to-eat favorites. Ritual also offers accessibly priced personal care, cooking oils, natural sugar and chemical free detergents. A personal favourite is the mushroom and Palapa seasoning that adds umami to any dish, here in photo, featured with other healthy condiments from Baron Method and the Naturale Market. Ritual is located at Languages International, Pasay Road, Makati.
Healthy Options exclusively offers alcohol-free wine and sparkling juices for merry-makings that don’t lead to hangovers and regret the morning after. I personally prefer to be extra responsible for the drinks I bring to parties as get togethers can easily get very overwhelming and it is always better that everyone have a clear head while they are having fun and are not given any excuse to cause unnecessary drama that usually comes with intoxication. Available at Healthy Options stores
Basilur Tea offers a festive Christmas premium tea collection complete with a musical box that makes a nice center piece for an after-dinner tea. Log on here.
Sekaya is a healing tea collection introduced to be by meditation coach Sara Black. They are the first in the country to offer blends specifically intended for skin cleanse, better digestion, sharper memory apart from their standard black and green tea. For the Holidays, Sekaya offers a limited tea set collection perfect for your next afternoon sit-down. Log on here.
Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Not only are they sustainable, they also don’t leak and are perfect for travels. Some of our favorites include the latest release from Human Heart Nature, a community-driven business that provides livelihoods to communities, Naked bars from Healthy Options and Lush, and eco bars from The Naturale Market. Available at Healthy Options stores; Lush stores; The Natural Market at Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City. Human Heart Nature is available at leading supermarkets and Beauty Bar.
When you’re particular with your food, you also start to pay attention to the quality of wares it is served in. I drive all the way to Crescent Moon in Antipolo to get the latest design from esteemed pottery artist Lanelle Abueva and to thrift-shop excess mugs, plates and bowls commissioned by the best restaurants in the country. You can treat yourself to a plant based buffet in their garden restaurant and will never forget their famous suman and tsokolate to complete the experience, Crescent moon also offers scheduled pottery classes. Log on here.
Zero Basics deodorant can keep up with my active lifestyle and keep me from smelling like I walked for an hour to escape traffic (which I do). It has all-natural ingredients and is refillable! Personal care for me, next to food, must be the most conscious when it comes to zero-waste options since we go through them so quickly. Check them out at @zerobasicsph on Instagram.
Featured in the same photo is my new obsession from Healthy Options, the Ayurveda Soothing Touch in Lavender Salt Scrub to get me through the night after a very emotional day. The salt doesn’t just cleanse the body but also residual energy we imbibe outside while the Lavender soothes and calms. I cant live without this anymore. Also in photo are Lush staple masks and lotions which honestly if I can just afford them all the time, I would stock on.
The Naturale Market and Healthy Options have a lot of zero-waste oral care as well like bamboo tooth brush, reusable cotton buds, biodegradable floss. I know Ritual has biodegradable cocoon facial scrubs. Loofas and metal ear buds as well. Zero Basics also has as shown in this photo, a teeth whitening tooth paste with activated charcoal which is really effective.
If unlike me you actually have a backyard or at least a decent balcony, then this grow kit from Down to Earth is a really good therapeutic diversion. If you don’t end up killing it, then you know you have a really good chance at growing your own urban vegetable garden. Also available in Down to Earth which I advocate for but haven’t gotten to doing is the Bokashi method for composting all our food waste.
For Your Fur Babies
Okay single as I am, I am guilty of channeling my motherhood instincts to our dogs. Which is why I am so happy that there are options for me in the Naturale Market for all-natural, sustainable pet care such as these biodegradable poop bag which is really a non-negotiable for all pet parents. Available at The Naturale Store, Burgos Circle, BGC.
City Plants carries a generous variety of both indoor and outdoor plants that comes in sheek pots. The owners are very hands-on and each plant ordered comes with care instruction which is especially crucial for people like me who kills cacti. They're happy to advise you which kinds are best fit for your home and your lifestyle and even help you curate your own Boho corner. Check them out on Instagram @cityplantsph
For a Good Cause
Mingo is a zero-waste instant meal consisting of mung beans (Monggo) rice and malungay (moringga). I would purchase several thousands worth of these for calamity victims. It’s important to be conscious of what kind of help we extend as we are responsible with how this affects them. I am especially a big fan of how Mingo does not come in plastic and is an all-natural health food which means I know that by donating this product as a present for those who need it most, I am nourishing them and I am not harming the environment and I am also supporting the livelihood of women who are behind this hero brand.
For those who like to stock-up on food in their car to give away to those who need it on the streets, this is also a very good alternative to crackers. Log on here.
For a Healthy Tummy: Kombucha
Boocha Mama is a probiotic sparkling drink that is an easy swap for cocktails with festive flavours like Blueberry, Acai, Peach, Lychee, Hibiscus, Rose, Lavander amongst many. Brewed by Singapore-Chef-in-Hiatus Inah Lee, Boocha Mama is that one drink that is a treat to the body that you can actually enjoy. Follow them on Instagram @boochamama.
Natural Christmas Decor
Fake plants and plastic flowers are my biggest turn-off so although I've learned to live with China-made trees and decor during Christmas, nothing says class more than displaying the real thing.
This festive Down to Earth wreath is made of real acorns and fragrant pine leaves, Eucalyptus and Cypress with natural herbs and cinnamon sticks. I got one for myself and gave it to my partner’s sister to decorate her hospital suite last week to add Christmas cheer in her space. My only wish is that I got a couple more for my own home. I can't recommend this enough. Order here.
Take Root's Kale Chips is the only crisps I allow myself now when I binge watch Netflix. It doesn’t give me bloat and since its dehydrated, not fried, I am assured that there are still nutrients in there. Who can go wrong with Kale right?
Their energy bars especially the one with Spirulina is also a favorite of mine but I try not to stock on their granolas as its addictive and I do end up finishing a pack in one sitting. Available at Real Food, or log on here.
Gift guide photography by Ronan Capili (unless stated otherwise)
Product styling by Kate Paras-Santiago
Curation and text by Weizel Gulfan