Christmas presents needn’t cost the earth.
Billions of gifts are exchanged across the globe each year, and many of these are discarded.
To make sure your present doesn’t end up in landfill/trash the plant, a) choose wisely and b) go for a gift that’s eco-friendly, ethical and/or sustainable.
It’s cool to care about the planet and your fellow human beings, so forget everything you know about ethical gifts. Below are some gems which we would very much like to receive in our stockings.
Wink, wink, Santa.
Oh, and don’t forget to wrap them in an eco-friendly manner, too…
1. Deep Blue Dreams tea gift set, T2, £38
The majority of tea bags contain plastic, would you believe? This is a real blow to environmentally conscious tea lovers, but all is not lost.
What did humans do before the tea bag was invented? Loose leaf, that’s what.
Treat your tea bagging friend to a cute teapot and some loose leaf loveliness from tea afficionados, T2 – how about this Deep Blue Dreams set which features a limited edition fine bone china teapot/cup and a box of Sweetest Dreams herbal infusion?
If that doesn’t float your boat, T2 make plenty other teapot/tea flask options, and all are cute as hell. They’re the sort of thing you might not justify buying for yourself, so make a lovely festive gift.
Heads up, their Sleep Tight infusion is (in our humble, yawning opinion) the nicest bedtime brew we’ve ever tasted.
2. S’well rose geode reusable water bottle 260ml, John Lewis, £25
S’well makes some of the prettiest drinks bottles we ever laid our eyes on, and this one is no exception. Its smaller size means it’s perfect for someone who doesn’t drink much water on the move, or who just wants a mini bottle to stash in their bag on a night out.
As with other S’well beauties, it’s vacuum sealed and keeps drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12.
Despite its mini dimensions, it can still fit ice cubes through the bottle’s mouth.
Also available in 500ml and 750ml if your recipient is on the parched side.
3. SteriPen Ultralight UV water purifier, Hill and Dale Outdoors, £64.95
The SteriPen Ultralight is a portable UV water purifer that makes one litre of tap, water butt or creek water safe to drink in just 90 seconds.
It’s the perfect gift for backpackers travelling in countries with dodgy tap water, who don’t want hundreds of plastic bottles on their conscience, especially in developing countries with no recycling systems.
Simply USB charge the device, wave the wand around in your reusable water bottle and you’re good to go. The device kills 99.9% bacteria, viruses and protozoa in clear water.
The pen hardly takes up any room in your bag, and it really is super light, so you’ve got no excuse for not taking it on your adventures.
The lamp lasts for around 8,000 one litre treatments, and a fully charged battery will clean 20 litres. So, you’ll save yourself a pretty penny as well as the environment.
4. Ibex coin pendant necklace, Boodi, £45
Boodi is a small, independent jewellery brand, by Sarah Marafie.
All Boodi jewellery is made from recycled gold or silver scraps, meaning no unnecessary, environmenally harmful mining took place. Gemstones are sourced from mines with carefully monitored working conditions.
Sarah works closely with her supplies to ensure her brand is ethical and sustainable.
Her coin necklaces are made using old coins, and make unique, ethical gifts.
Plus, 10% of sales from this necklace are donated to Friend Animal Sanctuary in Kent.
5. Muhle hexagon safety razor, Executive Shaving, £45.50
Disposable razors are a burden on the environment as the majority can’t be recycled, ending up in landfill once they go blunt.
Go old school with a safety razor – the only bit which gets thrown away is the blade once blunt.
This one’s pretty chic and will impress anyone having a nosey while taking a leak in your bathroom.
You just need a bit of practice getting used to safety blades, but once you do, you’ll be away!
6. Dalit mens shaving gift set, Ethical Superstore, £21.95
Want an ethical cosmetic set to go with that eco razor?
What about this fair trade, cruelty-free shaving brush and soap set? The brush is made with high quality, man made bristles, and the mositurising sandalwood scented soap is handmade with natural ingredients by women in Kerala.
The wooden shaving bowl is crafted by workmen in Kerala.
Buying from Dalit means you are contributing to their work with the Dalit people of India, particularly their support of street children. Lovely.
7. Foreo Issa 2 sensitive silicone sonic toothbrush, John Lewis, £169.99
Bamboo toothbrushes are all the rage for eco-friendly manual toothbrush users, but what about those of us who don’t feel like a regular toothbrush does the job?
We’ve been searching long and hard for an environmentally friendly electric toothbrush option and while we discovered that there isn’t a 100% perfect option (most brush heads can’t be recycled) there are a few worthy of your attention – including this one.
The Foreo Issa 2 only needs charging once a year (yes, once a year) off a one hour charge. That’s pretty epic. It also has a ‘lock’ system, meaning it won’t accidentally go off in your bag when in transit.
The sensitive version contains two brush heads – one with a hybrid of bacteria-resistant silicone and polymer, and one with pure silicone bristles, which are much kinder on your gums.
Upoing the eco factor – each silicone brush head lasts an entire year (compared to other electric toothbrushes which require a head change every three months), while the hybrid head lasts six months.
Unfortunately, the heads can’t be recyled – if Foreo create versions that can be, they’ll have a powerhouse of a toothbrush – but the fact they last longer than most means less landfill.
The brush heads have a built in tongue cleaner on the back, which sounds great but is actually pretty useless, unfortunately.
However, the Foreo Issa 2 is rare in that it looks damn good in your bathroom, as well as doing a solid job on your teeth, making it the perfect gift.
Also comes in mint, and the non-sensitive version comes in a whole host of colours.
8. Sustainable round yoga mat, The Form, £79
It’s ironic that yoga is all about being at one with the world, yet many modern yoga mats are made with toxic, environmentally harmful materials that can’t be recycled.
Enter The Form – these mats aren’t just carbon neutral – they’re carbon negative.
The mats are made from 100% recycled materials, including natural tree rubber and plastic bottles, which is pretty epic. The mat is also fully recyclable, as is the packaging it comes in.
This is the world’s first round yoga mat, but it doesn’t just look good – it does a cracking job too. It’s thick enough to cushion your creaking joints, and grippy enough to stop you slipping over and looking like a fool (the top layer is actually designed to get grippier the more you sweat, which is handy when you’re leaking from every pore).
The grid on the mat is super useful for getting your alignment right, and the circular design is perfect for a home practice. It means you don’t have to keep moving your mat/craning your neck to see the YouTube video you’re doing, as you can lie on it any which way.
If you’re buying this for someone who practices at a studio, you’re best off getting them one of The Form’s regular shaped mats, so they don’t piss anyone off taking up too much space in class.
The range of cool designs make these mats perfect for a gift. Plus, the carry strap doubles up as a yoga strap.
9. Elephant Branded recycled rice wash bag, Ethical Market, £30
Sadly, many products made from recycled rice sacks are pretty naff but this is an exception.
The main body of this bad boy is made from recycled rice sacks from Cambodia, while the handle is created with upcucled off cuts of motorbike seat covers. Pretty damn cool.
On top of this, the product is ethically made, and for every wash bag purchased, a school stationery set is hand delivered or a child in Asia or Africa.
Elephant Branded also do a selection of rice sack laptop cases, holdalls and totes, if they’re more your thing.
10. Vegan collection chocolate hamper, Seed & Bean, £40
If you’re looking for a gift for a food-loving vegan, then look no further – dairy-free chocolate daddies Seed & Bean have outdone themselves with this collection of 12 vegan chocolate bars.
That’s every single flavour in their dark chocolate range. *drools*
This cute (and reusable) wicker basket hamper gives the lactose intolerant/vegan in your life the chance to try some wild flavours like chilli and lime, lemon and cardamom, and lavender. There’s also classically delicious options like coffee espresso, Cornish sea salt, and mint.
The coconut and raspberry bar is also a really good time.
We can confirm that the orange and thyme flavour is basically a vegan Terry’s Chocolate Orange substitute. You’re welcome.
Seed & Bean chocolate is made in the UK in small batches, is fair trade and organic, and the packaging is fully recyclable and compostable.
11. Ethical vegan skincare, Novel Skincare, from £15
Not only is this unisex skincare brand 100% vegan and cruelty-free, but 10% of all profits is given to charities like Room to Read, a charity supporting female literacy in the developing world.
Products come in a (optional) recyclable cardboard ‘book’ – which is actually way too cute to recycle and should be kept to fill with trinkets – making a cute gift for the ethical beauty lover in your life. Each jar is fully recyclable.
The products are made from natural ingredients, and free from stuff like sodium laurel sulfate and artifical colours. Plus, they’re all made in the UK, using ingredients mostly sourced from the UK, thus lessening their carbon footprint.
Try the Modern History treatment which plumps skin and promotes cell renewal or Drawings, a black clay mask which draws out all the gunk your polluted city has deposited on your skin, without leaving it feeling tight and dry.
12. Organic cotton long kimono, Very Kerry, from £120
It’s surprisingly hard to find a kimono that’s a) pretty and b) made from natural fibres (why oh why do people make robes from sweaty synthetic fabric?) so we were pretty excited to find these.
Very Kerry kimonos are made from either organic cotton or bamboo, so you can lounge around in a breathable manner.
Plus, these kimonos are made under working conditions that are ethical, hygienic and safe so you can swan around in your fancy robe guilt-free.
13. Enlighten natural radiance collection gift set, Nude by Nature, £38
Nude by Nature is an ethical Australian beauty brand, that’s PETA-certified cruelty-free, and uses only natural ingredients.
Now, Nude by Nature foundations and BB creams are bloody excellent, but buying someone foundation as a gift is a terrible idea unless you know their exact skin type and colour.
So, instead, we’ll suggest to you this gorgeous gift set featuring a highlighter stick, bronzer and brush (made from synthetic fibres instead of animal hair), that comes in a cute bag that you’ll happily use as a makeup bag, or a weekend washbag.
This gift set is cruelty-free, but isn’t vegan as the products conatin beeswax. The majority of Nude by Nature’s products are vegan, but some contain lanolin/beeswax, so check the ingredients before you purchase.
14. Reusable customisable coffee cup 295ml, Frank Green, £24.99
We love a reusable coffee cup here at Metro.co.uk, but these Frank Green ones are pretty special.
The stainless steel cup keeps your drink hot for 10 hours, and unlike the ones that emulate takeaway coffee cups, this one’s a flask so you can chuck it in your bag when you need your hands to hold on for dear life when standing on the bus.
This is better than your average flask though, as it can be sipped from withut unscrewing the lid – all you need to do is push the button in the lid, and you can drink away. This leaves you one hand to hold onto the bus/train for dear life.
Importantly, these cups look the part, and the best bit is that they’re customisable, allowing you to mix and match the colours of the lid, button and base of your cup.
In as little as 15 uses, you’ll have offset the environmental impact it took to make your cup, and all components are recyclable at end of life. Winner.
15. Insulated wide reusable drinks bottle 592ml, Klean Kanteen, £27.95
Looking for a gift for an eco adventurer in your life? This insulated bottle is practical yet cool, in its array of bright colours and larger than average size.
The wide mouth means it’s perfect for throwing ice cubes in or for hot drinks, and leak-proof ‘café cap’ means you can take a sip in one twist, rather than having to to take the whole lid off.
Drinks are kept hot for 14 hours and iced for 48 hours thanks to double wall vacuum insulation.
Klean Kanteens used to chip like hell (which kind of added to their charm) bit this one has a powder coat finish making it four times as durable, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that your gift will be used for years to come.
16. Root, Nurture, Grow: The essential guide to propagating and sharing houseplants, Wordery, £11.19
Know someone who loves plants and spend every Sunday at the garden centre? Plants are great for the environment, but even better when you propagate your own.
Instead of buying a new plant every time you fancy a green addition to your house, why not make the most of what you already have, by growing new ones from cuttings?
If that sounds daunting, this beautiful book from Ro Co founders Caro Langton and Rose Ray will teach you how, using beginner-friendly techniques such as stem cutting, rooting in water, runners, offsets, grafting, division and more.
Propagating from what you already have means you avoid buying plants that may have been grown using harmful pesticides.
Share the love by nurturing cuttings and then distributing among friends. A great gift for a green-fingered, eco soul.
17. Scented rapeseed wax candle pot, Aerende, £45
Aerende make chic as hell sustainable homeware gifts, all made in the UK by people facing social challenges, who are unable to access or maintain regular employment.
This limited-edition, wax candle has a soothing mix of organic essential oils and is made using rapeseed wax as it’s more sustainable than other options.
The pot is handmade at a residential community supporting adults with learning disabilities in Gloucestershire and the wax has been scented and poured by a social firm employing adults with learning disabilities in Brecon, Wales.
The packaging is recyled and recyclable, and Aerende claim this is the most ethical candle available in the UK.
Plus, you can give the beautiful pot a new life once your candle has burned through.