Sunday, 22 November 2020

Teaching environmental sustainability to kids through the love of books!

Children are the future. They are the ones who will have to face the consequences of the planet's sustainability issues, and probably the ones who will need to find solutions to environmental problems that they are inheriting from us. What we teach them today is going to affect their life choices and decisions in the future, so we need to make them aware of what is possibly the most essential element of living and surviving - our planet!

Teaching children about sustainability will give them the opportunity to become sensible about their environment, realize the importance to live in harmony with nature, and as grown-ups, they will be able to take responsible lifestyle decisions. What we learn as children become the foundation of our habits, values, and priorities. We have both the duty and the joy to instill in our children the right ones.

Our educators do a marvelous job in providing knowledge to our children, but it is more powerful when the parents or guardians enrich their children's awareness, first and foremost by giving a good example at home, and secondly by investing in good quality books. Recently I discovered a new small local business which provides Subscription Boxes for children. They have a different topic every month. To my delight, their very first subscription box is called 'Follow Your Curiosity' and it focuses on the planet and environmental sustainability. I was immediately thrilled! 

There are 2 books. One is '100 Things to know about planet Earth', exquisitely illustrated and accompanied by an innovative online section where you can find several videos, fact-sheets and quizzes. The recommended age is 8+ however it is so colourful and playful that younger kids will certainly enjoy reading it with an adult and discovering all these wonders of the world. 

The other book is 'Helping our Planet', a very interesting guidebook with practical and helpful checklists and calls to action that will motivate the reader to explore sustainability issues in their everyday life such as eating, shopping, traveling, ways to save energy and cut down on waste. 240 pages of wisdom gems to implant in our precious future generation. 

In the box you will also find a large world map perfect to hang in the kids' room, a colour-in sheet of planet Earth and 2 flashcards with cute and funny facts about animals.

Fijgo's 'Follow your Curiosity' makes a great and significant gift for the children in your family this Christmas. After all, what makes a better present than education? Instilling the love of reading books early gives a child a head start on expanding their vocabulary and building independence and self-confidence. It helps children learn to make sense not only of the world around them but also the people by building socio-emotional skills, and of course, imagination. 

As Jacqueline Kennedy said, "There are many little ways to enlarge a world. Love of books is the best of all."

You can learn more about and order the Subscription Box from HERE

Follow Fijgo Books on Facebook

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Hosting an Eco-friendly Christmas Party

It is without a doubt the time of year when we consume and buy the most. By all means, let’s celebrate and enjoy together this special occasion, but we can do it without damaging further our environment. Think about all the non-recyclable single use stuff that goes to waste during Christmas and end up sitting in landfill for hundreds of years … bunting, tinsel, bows, wrapping paper…. Whether you are the host, or the invitee, there are a few really simple tricks for a party that doesn’t cost the ‘Earth’ – both financially and ecologically. Yes, having a zero-waste party will actually save you money!


With all the bursting shop displays and markets popping up in every town, it is difficult to resist the temptation of buying something. The most important ‘green’ aspect to consider when buying something is where it was made. Buying local is important as it has a very low carbon footprint. Most mass-consumed products are made in Asia, even branded products. Choosing handmade and home-made is an excellent choice as you are buying a genuine product, that can be personalised to your wishes, all the while keeping a circular economy. However, it is becoming increasingly popular to buy ‘experiences’ rather than products. The choice is practically endless and it is a very sustainable choice. Classic options are cinema tickets, pass for museums or archaeological sites, dance or music lessons, spa, gym, concert tickets, etc… For an original twist, consider buying tickets for a lecture or a summit that you have heard them showing interest for; or a workshop about gardening or to learn how to grow food at home if they have a green finger; an exteme sports experience such as zip-line or an escape room activity, if they are the adventurous type; or perhaps a voucher to use one of the many alternative methods of transport now available in our country. If you are looking for inspiration to purchase eco-sustainable gift ideas, take a look at Eco Market’s Christmas Gift Guide.


The most sustainable way of wrapping your gifts is by re-purposing existing materials. A colourful magazine, comic book, children’s drawings, old maps or newspapers are some of the options. This is ideal for wrapping the gifts of your children – fun and different; family members – they know you like things the eco way; and your eco-conscious friends who will appreciate and respect your thought. Once the unwrapping is done, everything can simply go in the recycle bag… or if they are still in good condition, consider keeping them for re-use. If you are looking for a packaging for colleagues or peers, something that is neat and elegant, the best option is to go for plain brown paper. You can easily write on it, or you can create your own rubber-stamp for a personalised touch. Brown paper can go in the recycle bag. Instead of ribbon, buy a roll of earth-colour twine or hemp string. Then use dried leaves, flowers, pine cones, berries or small pieces of twigs to place in the centre instead of a bow. Avoid tape and glue. They make re-cycling impossible and the whole batch would end up in landfill. Tissue paper is a great way to embellish the gift wrapping and it is 100% recyclable. Another alternative to wrapping gifts is cloth – known as the Furoshiki method, it is a traditional Japanese art of wrapping, originally used to transport goods. Clearly the cloth should be re-purposed or used for another gift-wrapping.


The planet doesn’t need more plastic stuff. Here is an opportunity to start brainstorming ways to decorate and embellish your home in an original, stylish and sustainable way this Christmas! There are two simple rules that I follow when it comes to any kind of decor: first, choose a theme; second, less is more. Choosing a theme for Christmas is a personal choice, but if you want to know the most Eco-friendly way, is to follow nature. Twigs, hollies, cinnamon sticks, leaves, flowers, petals, herbs, pine cones… they make faboulous wreaths and centre pieces. They also add a beautiful touch to your existing home decor; a lantern, a candle-holder, a curtain rail, a vase, a frame… You can be creative and make your own ornaments for the Christmas Tree and around the house with these natural and organic pieces. If you have kids, consider a mini craft session where they create their own ornament. They can write their name and the year on them, and it can become a beautiful yearly tradition to look forward to! The internet is bursting with DIY crafts for Christmas. Make sure that your base material is something sustainable, such as wood or cloth. You can also make a myriad of decorations from old Christmas cards. Finally, the lights: they create an amazing atmosphere and we all have them. This year, chose LED lights and only switch them on when really needed. There is no need to keep all the festive lights on all the time. Let the cables sleep at night too 🙂

Food and Drink

While we consider our responsibility towards the well-being of the planet, let us also consider all the other earthlings that share our ‘home’. Going vegan is a personal choice, however choosing not to eat meat or fish for the Holidays is a truly selfless gift you can do. You can find many delicious vegan savoury and sweet recipes or you can always order from an establishment or hire a vegan chef for a home-cook out. Try it this Christmas and discover how Vegan food can be as much delicious and satisfying as any other food! When preparing your Christmas meals, remember the number one priority to choose local seasonal ingredients. The food will result in homely, fresher and tastier food. For a traditional menu, you can easily find the main ingredients from a local manufacturer with whole-some home-made products. Local organic farmers are at the forefront of sustainability as their own livelihood depends on it. Don’t forget to take with you when you go shopping your own container and bags and you won’t be paying for extra packaging. If you are shopping for an exotic ingredient, take a moment to read the label. Where does it come from? What’s in it? Who made it? If possible go for Fair Trade and/or Certified Organic labels. Look for the same labels when it comes to drinks and alcohol too, and invite your friends and guests to try new brands of modern organic, biodynamic and vegan alcohol.

Pre-Party Organisation

Let’s start with one of the biggest culprits for waste at parties: disposable plats, cups, cutlery, straws etc. All you will ever need are reusables. Take the occasion to bring out your finest dinner set. Make sure the dishwasher is always fully loaded – or if you are washing by hand fill up the sink with soapy water and only change it when you really need to. Remember to use eco-friendly detergent so that the water can be re-used to water the plants, for instance. When you go for a grocery haul before you whip up all those (plant-based) Christmas dishes, make sure you buy ingredients that are locally sourced to avoid air-flown emissions. If you’re thinking to purchase some cake, support a local baker, and so on. Make sure that your shopping list is prepared ahead of time, buy in bulk and save on money, time and transport energy. Organise in advance what needs to go in the oven and keep the door closed to conserve heat and save energy. Set up recycling bins throughout your party, for cans, bottles, paper products and food compost. Make sure your guests know where to dispose of their items, and how to do so properly at the beginning of the party – it could be a great icebreaker and with the festive spirit abound, friends & fam may be open to ways they can reduce their environmental impact. According to NSO statistics, Malta throws away 22% of perfectly good and edible food every year due to over-cooking and mis-management. Let’s try and prepare responsible amounts this year and avoid food waste. Team up with other guests and share a ride, call a taxi, or use one of car-sharing options. That way you don’t have to worry about drinking, driving or parking, and you will not be adding to the fumes and pollution in the city. Finish off your eco-party with a gift bag that doesn’t leave behind any waste. Homemade granola bars or gingerbread men wrapped in paper, for instance, would make a great treat. Plants or seeds to grow their own herbs at home, such as the Eco Gardener Kit, would make another green gift.

Let’s celebrate responsibly this year. We can all enjoy the festive season with our special humans without the need to over-buy and over-consume. All it takes is a little thought and good will.

Happy Eco Christmas! 🎄🌍💚

Creating positive changes at Christmas time

If there was ever a time that could push us towards positive change, then this is definitely it! This year we all had our share of fear and faith, reflection and prudence. Besides the chaos and the inconveniences, we have re-discovered extraordinary benefits of slowing down the pace of our lives. Covid taught us many valuable lessons, the most important of which is a necessity to live on a healthy planet and maintain a healthy eco-system. Climate change is real. Biodiversity loss is real. Air and sea pollution are real. All these contribute to unsustainability. As citizens of planet Earth, we are all responsible, and we must therefore become accountable for our own actions and habits. Christmas and New Year are traditionaly the most ideal times to bring about change, and our next big lesson to learn is how to live sustainably.

What is sustainability?

To be sustainable, means to be able to maintain a balanced level of give and take. Right now, the planet is in an unsustainable state, for we are taking more than we are giving back - and we are taking quicker than the planet can regenerate by itself. One of the principal problems of unsustainability is consumption. Since the industrial revolution and the invention of plastic a hundred or so years ago, we have been consuming carelessly, impulsively, and negligently. We buy without thinking and we buy things we don't need, and in particular during Christmas time, we are relenetlessly driven into an over-consumption race with the excuse of gifting and celebrating.

Becoming a conscious consumer means that you put thought and care before purchasing anything. Asking yourself questions such as: Where was this made? How did it arrive here? Who made it? Who or what suffered so that this prouct could be created? Celebrating a 'Green' Crhsitams is possible when you choose eco-sustainable products. It means that the products were sourced, manufactured, produced, packaged and transported with respect to the environment. An eco-friendly product is a product that was made with sustainability as a priority guideline.

What is good for the planet is also good for the people

This is a pleasant consequence that not everybody knows about. Eco-sustainable products are not only good for the environment, but also good for people. For instance, sustainable food and beverage products would not contain any dangerous chemicals or pesticides; and Eco-friendly body products would not contain anyd harmful substances. Therefore, if you care about what you put in and on your body, and want to live a healthy lifestyle, choosing sustainable products is the way forward.

Choosing eco-sustainable options

So, let's end this strange and mysterious year on a good note! Let us start taking responsibility for our actions and choose ethical and sustainable gifts for our loved ones taking inspiration from Malta's Top Eco-friendly Gift Ideas, a list created by Eco Market Malta. The list contains a beautiful collection of gift ideas from local green startups, artisans and SMEs. Shopping local is a huge factor for sustainability as it reduces the product's carbon footprint. Choosing to buy products from this list will also eliminate the risk of buying something that only pretends to be eco-friendly as our sellers are well curated.

Malta's Top Eco-friendly Gift Ideas features 30 perfect gifts for your friends and family members. For instance, the Zero Waste Starter Kit is an elegant box ready to be gifted to someone who wants to reduce the use of plastic; while the Eco Gardener Kit is your ideal gift for your green-finger friend.

There are also several gift options for sustainable home appliances, jewellery, clothing, beauty, decor, wellness, children's toys, gifts for the new mum, and unique original ideas such as 'adopt a dolphin'. 

Be the change you want to see

Whether you are buying for an eco-conscious person, or someone who is not yet environmentally-aware, this list offers quality and well-priced gift ideas for everyone. As consumers we can make a conscious choice to bring positive change in our lives, and since actions speak louder than words, your eco gift will also be a message inviting others to make their own positive impact. It is no secret that a meaningful and thoughtful gift is more appreciated than any high-priced item money can buy. This year, let's choose to shop sustainably and responsibly, avoid waste, be kind to the planet and enjoy a simple and 'green' Christmas.