For the environmentally-conscious shopper, buying Christmas gifts can prove a tricky business.
While most of us want to give presents to those we love, choosing eco-friendly gifts without a hefty carbon footprint is a minefield of single-use plastic, environmentally-damaging business practices and poorly-made items that break quickly after purchase.
What’s more, evidence shows that the excessive consumerism practised at Christmas is taking its toll on the planet, with a study by waste management company Biffa estimating waste increases 30 per cent in the UK every festive season.
Other businesses produce their products through unethical means, involving poorly-paid factory workers in their supply chain while purporting to be “ethical”.
Shopping in person is a great way to support the high street, but this does make it more difficult to know where your purchases have come from, and how they were made.
Luckily, increasing commercial awareness of the climate crisis means that retailers are beginning to adapt, with an array of options available to shoppers looking for eco-friendly, ethically-sourced gifts.
Our regularly-updated list of 29 e-retailers selling eco-friendly, ethical gifts below offers options for birthdays, Christmases and other celebrations which won’t leave you feeling guilty.
Some of the stores listed help the environment, while others channel money into good causes, helping those in poverty or making the world a better place. Read on for places to find the perfect present and do good with your money. And if you can’t find something in here, it’s also a good idea to hit up your local charity shops, where you can help support local causes and give thousands of items a new lease on life.
Socially responsible and eco-friendly gifts
The Big Issue Shop
The Big Issue isn’t just an award-winning magazine sold by people who are homeless and vulnerable – it also has a shop, in which every item listed is made by a company with a positive impact on society, whether that’s a charity, social enterprise or a firm that reuses and recycles materials to help the planet.
All the products use sustainable sourcing methods, while some also set out to make a social statement. In the words of Big Issue founder John Bird: “What we sell helps”.
Here’s a run-down of some of the best items on sale at the moment:
‘Save the Sloths’ bamboo socks: We all feel like a sloth sometimes. And now you can save them too! 10 per cent of profits from these thermo-regulating bamboo socks made by Bare Kind are donated to an animal conservation or rescue charity that supports the animal on the sock.
This cute unisex baby hat is perfect for anyone with young kids in your life, and every purchase will help an child in need.
From Babies With love will channel every penny of profit from its ethically-sourced designs into helping abandoned children around the world.
Every penny of profit from our unique, ethically sourced designs goes to support abandoned children around the world.
Lamya earrings are handmade in India by artisans, these beaded earrings are beautiful and sustainable.
Each design is unique due to being hand-crafted, and comes from Daughters of the Ganges, (DOTG) an organisation which employs women in India to help them achieve financial independence.
Ecoffee Cup is a “new generation” of reusable takeaway cups, created with the world’s fastest growing and most sustainable crop: bamboo fibre.
The material is naturally sterile and won’t flavour-taint your drinks and the cup has a re-sealable no-drip lid, making it perfect to take with you everywhere you go. You’ll be able to get your morning fix with peace of mind.
The #WEARABIGISSUE brand is art apparel that makes more than just a fashion statement. A collection of artists in collaboration with +rehabstudio have come on board to create the work, which raises awareness of the plastic waste in the world’s oceans.
Homeless tartan bowtie: This bow tie is perfect for formal occasions throughout the year and comes in a gorgeous tartan pattern.
The design is “homeless” tartan from Slanj, a company which offers part of its profits to organisations tackling homelessness in the UK.
The Green Turtle
It’s not just The Big Issue which is attempting to make a difference when it comes to sustainable shopping. In a busy world where we all have a million and one things to do, it can be hard to avoid plastic. But fear not, The Green Turtle is all about eco choices. Lorna, who runs the eco-friendly online shop, wants to help you conquer the journey to zero waste and sustainable living.
Best selling products include everyday goods, such as sandwich wrappers, soap bars, bamboo dishcloths and natural deodorant. There are also a range of gift sets, from the “eco-love” set to natural love heart bath loofah.
Huski Home, a family-run company based in London, creates eco-friendly coffee husk travel cups and other reusable products.
“We believe that everyone has the power to create a brighter future and through small changes in our everyday lives, we can see a renewable world in our lifetime,” Founders Lisa and Luke say on their website. The couple has also been fighting food poverty by donating food items to the Bexley Food Bank.
Once you’ve bought the perfect gift, the next stage is to make it look pretty and pass it on to someone special. That’s where Re-wrapped come in.
The London based company specialises in ethical wrapping paper, cards and notebooks. Founded in 2011, it uses 100 per cent recycled unbleached paper and cards and only uses environmentally friendly vegetable-based inks, this means all of their products can be recycled. They also support the non-profit sector and 5 per cent of all their profits go to charity.
Their most popular time of year, unsurprisingly, is Christmas, but they have a range of products for Birthdays or any other special occasion.
Wearth, based in London, works with brands to try and make it easier for customers to “shop and live more consciously”.
Launched in 2017, the company has partnered with more than 250 independent UK brands and has a large range of eco-friendly and ethical products.
As well as many bundles available to help with eco-living, there is a massive gift section, ranging from organic sleep gift sets, self-care bundles and the flagship Wreath Gift Box which features a collection of the store’s most popular eco-friendly gifts.
The Little Market
The Little Market is a non-profit that features ethically sourced and artisan-made products. They sell a variety of items, including bath products, candles, tote bags, kitchenware, decoration, and jewellery.
On their website, they write, “We are committed to upholding the dignity of artisans, celebrating their cultural techniques and traditions, and bringing attention to social justice and human rights issues faced by their communities.”
They have a major gift section on their website but simply browsing through the pages, you’re sure to find something gorgeous for that special person in your life.
Lucy & Yak is a unisex fashion brand that first started in co-founder Lucy Greenwood’s basement in 2017. Now it’s a highly successful online brand with three brick-and-mortar stores in Brighton, Bristol, and Norwich.
The company is committed to ethical and sustainable sourcing of their clothes, and they say that 98 per cent of their fabrics are organic or recycled. They used 100 per cent organic cotton, and recycled polyester made from recycled bottles, and natural dyes. To counter the effect of global shipping on the brand’s carbon footprint, they previously moved to sea shipments, which has the lowest impact in terms of transport.
Lucy & Yak also use carbon offsetting to plant trees and partner with a number of organisations to give back to the community, including working with Thread Ahead to provide clothing to refugees in the UK, donating to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), and working with a foundation in India that aims to send girls to school.
They also have a gift guide on their website to help you find the perfect thing for your friend/sister/father/uncle, or you can visit their shops in person to get recommendations from a staff member.
We Are We Wear are co-owned by two Black women who advocate for body positivity and prioritise a sustainable approach to fashion.
They sell swimwear, lingerie, and comfort clothes in a variety of sizes, including providing for plus-size people all the way up to sizes 28-30 (3XL), aiming to make their customers feel comfortable, confident, and sexy.
A “vast majority” of their products are made from recycled materials and sustainable fabrics and they are aiming to produce 100 per cent sustainable swimwear by 2023. They also certify safe working conditions and living wages for the factory workers who make their products.
It may be cold outside, but with Valentine’s Day coming up in a couple months and plenty of warm holidays to be had next year, look no further for the perfect intimates or swimwear gift.
Girlfriend Collective is a conscious fashion brand that sells activewear like leggings and sports bras that are made using only eco-friendly dyes and recycled fabrics. Each item starts with 25 recycled water bottles that are collected and sourced in Taiwan, as well as fishing nets and other waste, and the brand says they divert an average of 25 per cent of plastic from landfill.
Their packaging is 100 per cent recycled and recyclable, and being sustainable is one of their top priorities.
They also partner with EcoCart to provide a carbon-neutral option for order placed with them, directing carbon offset funds to projects like planting trees or building wind farms.
The gym bunny in your life will easily be able to work out at their leisure with Girlfriend Collective’s high-quality and eco-friendly activewear.
Have you ever considered how environmentally friendly your caffeine-hit is? The Eco Coffee Company has become a hit for their “honest, responsible and delicious” brew.
The firm prides itself on supplying coffee from ethical and sustainable sources. It employs a “robust” environmental policy offering a large selection of products from plastic-free tea bags to reusable mugs – all great eco-friendly gifts for the coffee lover in your life.
Toast Ale Companion Series Beer
Beer fans will want to move quickly on this one – Toast Ale are coordinating production of a limited-edition collection of 26 beers that use surplus bread that would otherwise have gone to waste.
Toast Ale, who coordinated the series, has supplied pre-prepared surplus crumb and shared expertise with the fellow breweries – including Guinness and Adnams – to enable the creation of their new beers.
There’ll be just 2,600 boxes available for purchase, with £26 from each sale invested in conservation and regenerative agriculture projects.
Boxes of the beers will be available for purchase on Friday, October 15 for £89.95 on Toast’s website.
TheVeganKind supermarket is one business trying to push people in the right direction. A small family-friendly business that wants to “inspire the world to be kind and go vegan”, they describe themselves as a 100 per cent “vegan online shopping heaven” and stock over 5,000 vegan and cruelty-free products.
Grind is a sustainability-focused coffee company that also owns and operates a number of cafes across London. They sell home-compostable coffee pods for Nespresso machines, which will naturally break down in your compost bin, as well as producing coffee that is organic and ethically sourced from sustainable farms across the world.
According to their website, at least 29,000 plastic and aluminium coffee pods end up in the landfill as they are usually not recyclable. That’s where Grind comes in – their entire range is 100 per cent plastic free and their pods are certified as compostable.They have an entire page dedicated to gifts so you’ll be sure to find something for the coffee-obsessed person in your life.
The ultimate Gin & Tonic can be made all the better if you know its coming from a sustainable source.First opened in 1837, Bullards Spirits is now committed to sustainability with their “Eco-Project.”
All of Bullards’ bottles are handcrafted in the UK to reduce the carbon footprint of importing them, and they encourage consumers to re-use their bottles by purchasing an eco-refill pouch that can then be returned to Bullards free-of-charge for recycling. The bottles can be topped up as many times as you want, reducing waste and carbon emissions from landfill.
Their packaging is also 100% plastic-free and recyclable, and the company funds climate positive projects around the world to offset the carbon emissions they produce.
The gin lover in your life will be pleased to know that their festive tipple isn’t further contributing to climate change.
Who Gives A Crap
Who Gives A Crap believes everybody deserves “some seriously soft toilet paper”.
Founded in Australia in 2012 and with offices in the UK, and the USA, the company uses loo roll to make a difference. There are 2 billion people around the world who don’t have access to a toilet. Now, Who Gives A Crap donate 50 per cent of their profits to building toilets and improving sanitation in the poorer countries around the world.
The business also has fun while doing it, and admit there are a lot of jokes to be made when flogging toilet paper. They say their paper is perfect for anybody with a “nice bum”. You can even have it delivered to your door but bosses are careful to make clear they mean your front door because having it delivered to your bathroom “would be creepy”.
LastObject is calling on fellow “waste warriors” to help them stamp out single-use goods and move toward products made to last. The company’s mission is to create objects that replace single-use items and can be reused hundreds or even thousands of times.
Based in Copenhagen, they are famed for creating the LastSwab, the world’s first reusable cotton swab, which comes in two different models for different applications, whether general use or beauty.
Single-use plastic can be hard to avoid – a problem that Wild & Stone are hoping to change. Their array of plastic-free products aim to make it easy to switch to useable, stylish alternatives.
Kat, the owner of the company, said she set up the business as she wanted to help others start living a plastic-free life.
Products available include household items to organic and reusable food wraps to bamboo picnic cutlery sets. Wild & Stone also has a growing collection of personal care items, including bamboo toothbrushes and cotton buds.
EcoVibe started out as friends working together trying to do their bit for the environment. Today, they sell hundreds of products, from compostable sponges and biodegradable bin liners to coconut fibre scourers. The company says small steps can have a “huge” impact and want to consign single-use plastic to history.
Chocolates, flowers and jewelry are always nice, but some couples like to give more useful presents, so this one’s probably for the most practical of gift-givers.
Boobalou is all about eco-living. They want to reduce the amount of waste we create by providing everyday household goods that are reusable and biodegradable. Products to help you create a more eco-home such as organic cotton bath towels, reusable food wrap and recycled stationery.
Our phones have become our everything, our conduit for socialising, banking, working, dating, you name it. If somebody you love is addicted to their phone then you can be safe in the knowledge they aren’t the only one.
But what is their case made out of? Is it eco-friendly? It could be with the help of Wave.
Created by three friends in the North East trying to spark change, the company has developed the Wave Case. Made from wheat straw, it was designed to be stylish yet biodegradable. “If you are going to protect your phone, make sure you protect our planet too,” they say.
The company states that the pencils can be planted to grow into herbs, flowers, vegetables, and even spruce trees after they have been used – they are made out of certified wood that are ethically sourced and non-GMO seeds.
You can personalise the pencils for the artist or writer in your life as well, making it a perfect and sustainable gift. Sprout have also expanded into producing eyeliner and brow liners that are also plantable so makeup lovers no longer need to worry about their environmental impact either.
Our Place is a cookware and tableware brand that has an extremely important mission – for each of their collections, they donate a portion of their profits to community causes.
The brand is focused on representation and honouring cooking in various cultures, giving back to local people, and hiring a US team which is predominantly women of colour and first-generation immigrants.
Additionally, they seek to ensure that all of their production is ethical in terms of paying above-living wages to workers, sourcing their products carefully, and using biodegradable materials in their packaging. Many of their products, including glassware, are also made from recycled or sustainably sourced materials and the company previously said they are actively trying to reduce their carbon footprint.
If you know of someone who is in desperate need of some new kitchenware, or can’t cook and definitely needs to learn with beautiful pots and pans, Our Place is the place to go.
Unfortunately, many of our favourite bathing and showering products are unsustainable and packaged in plastic. One brand trying to change this is My Little Eco shop.
Based in Devon, its mission is to cut down on plastic usage and make people more aware of their ecological impact on the earth.
Items currently on sale include soaps and melts, hair care bars, and other products to make skincare routines zero waste. As far as eco-friendly gifts go, that sounds good to us.
FAIR SQUARED sells “refreshingly sustainable” natural cosmetics such as hair and facial care, oils, and hair cleansing soap. They do all this under one guiding principle: fairness.
“Fair trading conditions, environmental responsibility, and a strict “no” to child labour and animal testing – fairness for us is something which should be connected to all areas,” the company’s website says.
Jungle Culture works with artisans and makers from across the globe to source its products responsibly, helping to build relationships with local communities and also help save the planet.
Their Bamboo Safety Razors are unisex, sustainable and even come with a user guide for beginners. “At Jungle Culture we have a unique view on product sourcing. We have created an ethical supply chain, powered by small farms, craft workshops and transparent factories,” they say.
Georganics is a business helping people switch from the synthetic ingredients used in most normal toothpaste to ones that are more sustainable.
After struggling to find eco alternatives to conventional toothpaste, founder Alex decided to create his own oral care products, with items now on sale including mineral toothpaste, toothpaste tablets and dental floss.
The company also wants to help those protect the environment while scrubbing. They sell Beechwood toothbrushes which come in compostable packaging and don’t contribute to landfill.
Okay, so you might have heard of Lush before, but with its amazing-smelling homemade cosmetics and bath bombs, we couldn’t leave it off the list.
All Lush’s products are eco-friendly and cruelty-free, and can be purchased at high street stores up and down the country.
Best Sellers include ‘sleepy’ body lotion, ‘ultrabland’ facial cleanser and the company’s famous ‘dream cream’.
Buy a Big Issue Winter Support Kit for £34.99, you’ll receive four copies of the magazine and vendors could receive immediate tools for survival plus access to vital training and employment pathways to escape poverty for good.