Nothing in this post is sponsored. It's just things I like and would be happy to give or receive. Images from the respective websites. I'm UK based, as are many suggestions.
Gift giving can be hard. It's especially hard if you're looking for gifts that are ethically made and sustainably sourced, and also do some good in the world. Many of us who are trying to go zero waste may have asked to reduce the amount of presents we receive, but we are still often in the position to be buying presents for other people. So, how do you navigate buying gifts for those you love while reducing the impact of them?
With that in mind, here is a gift guide for things you might think of giving this Christmas:
Not only can these be beautiful but they are very functional, and can help people move away from wasteful coffee pods, towards using loose coffee. Bodum and Le Creuset do great cafetieres and French presses. Bodum offers spare parts to help you repair it if needed and Le Creuset have a well-established guarantee. Give with a bag of Fair Trade, Organic, plastic-free coffee from Percol (which is now sold in most supermarkets), or refill a beautiful container from your zero-waste shop, if you have one.
If you're buying for a tea drinker, think about gifting a tea pot with a metal tea filter to enable them to swap to loose leaf, which often tastes better and avoids the plastic that is commonly found in tea bags. We use this one from the London Pottery Company and love it, especially as the filter can be removed and used separately in a single mug!
Generally home cooking is less wasteful than buying pre-prepared food, so helping people cook for themselves is a great way to avoid waste. Tailor the choice of book to their cooking ability, their kitchen set up, how busy they are and what they usually eat.
We are currently loving the Roasting Tin cook books by Rukmini Iyer, which have recipes where everything can be made in one tray in your oven, to save time and washing up! We especially love the Green Roasting tin with vegetarian and vegan recipes.
Falcon Enamel bake tray
Falcon enamelware is timeless, with its distinctive white and blue rimmed design, but it now comes in other gorgeous colours too. Enamelware is porcelain fused onto heavy-gauge steel making it incredibly strong and durable, with a long lasting colour. It's oven safe, dishwasher safe, but can even be used on gas and electric hobs, making it incredibly multipurpose. An item like this would be one that lasts you for life, and is a great item to gift someone who is starting to cook more but without overwhelming them with 17 different items!
Stoneware dinner set from Aerende
Aerende is an online shop selling beautiful 'life-improving homewares" and gifts, which have been made in the UK by people facing social challenges, who would struggle to access or maintain conventional employment.
Each piece of this dinner set has each been handmade by adults living with learning disabilities within a residential estate as part of the Camphill Village Trust, and are perfect for everyday use.
Respiin offer gorgeous textile items like cushion covers and throws which are made from recycled wool from unwanted clothing. Not only are they beautiful but they're putting to use material that would otherwise end up in landfill. These beautiful items would be great in any home and help you avoid turning up the heating this winter.
Dip & Doze bedding
I have some bedding from Dip and Doze and it's honestly the softest bedding I've ever owned. It's also fair trade and organic, which makes it even dreamier to sleep on. Although these pieces are more of an investment, you know that everyone is getting a fair deal along the supply chain and that definitely helps me sleep better at night. Their quilt covers also have skipped the plastic and have buttons made from coconut shells instead.
They also offer bathroom towels and bathmats if that is what you're looking to gift someone instead this Christmas, perhaps with some plastic free shampoo bars and bath bombs.
Made the same way since 1945 in France, Duralex make the most durable glasses in the world, as well as being very classical styles that will never go out of fashion. Their glassware is tempered for maximum strength, and they're also shock and thermal shock resistant, making them virtually unbreakable. I am loving this set of 6 whisky glasses, although their glass classic tumblers are also a beautiful gift. This glassware is so good that it is even featured on the BuyMeOnce website because of it's high quality.
This Kombucha is made in London and Holos was created to help support survivors of human trafficking in the UK. With an estimated 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK today, the work of Holos Kombucha is making a difference by giving a portion of their profits and through activities to create life-enriching opportunities for survivors of trafficking. One in every four people employed at HOLOS is a survivor of human trafficking, helping them gain confidence and employability skills. Basically it's kombucha with a conscience.
Tony's Chocolonely chocolate
Christmas is usually a time for lots of treats and lots of chocolate. But did you know a lot of chocolate has slavery in its supply chains? Yup, slavery. Doesn't taste quite so sweet any more. Thankfully that's where Tony's Chocolonely comes in. Their mission is to produce 100% slavery free chocolate, which is still Fairtrade, but just even better! At first it seems more expensive, but at 180g per bar it is double the weight of a traditional chocolate bar making it pretty much the same price as traditional fairtrade options. It has now thankfully come to the UK and can be found in several supermarkets for you to snack on this festive period to your hearts content.
Urban Honey from Local Honey Man
For those of you who buy and eat honey, buying locally sourced honey from beekeepers who are actively involved in looking after the bee population is the best way you can get it. This honey gift set from Local Honey Man is a great gift idea. Supermarket honeys are allowed to contain a proportion of syrup meaning they are not pure honey, where as this is 100% honey. As this is also made in the UK, if you live here then you know the honey isn't having to travel from across the world to get to you so it has a smaller carbon footprint.
Condiments from Rubies in the Rubble
Since 2012 Rubies in the Rubble have worked with farms to collect the fresh fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste due to aesthetic imperfections or imbalances in the supply chain and turn them into delicious condiments. With a third of food wasted globally, and much of it before it even leaves the farm, initiatives like this are great at reducing food waste but also providing great gift option and stocking fillers!
Lima Lima Jewellery
Lima Lima makes stunning handcrafted jewellery from a home studio in Swansea. They have an emphasis on sustainability, using recycled silver instead of standard 925 sterling silver, and only sourcing ethical gemstones where workers are paid a fair wage and work under safe conditions.
Brighton Lace underwear
Brighton Lace offers some truly beautiful lace and cashmere underwear sets that are the perfect gift. These gorgeous sets are handcrafted in Brighton from lace sourced around the UK. Brighton Lace cares about creating a sustainable fashion business that gives back – to the individual, local and global community, and is a living wage employer. You'll get to know that the beautiful gift you've given has also been made in a way that empowers the women making them and their community.
If you're not sure what to get for that special person, they also offer gift cards so they can choose themselves.
Water Haul Sunglasses
Made from intercepted waste fishing nets from Cornwall, UK, and recycled into plastic, these sun glasses (including prescription sunglasses) help tackle ocean waste whilst remove the need for new plastic to be made to create these sunglasses. Water Haul is a closed loop production and so accept back any broken pairs to be re-recycled into more glasses, and even offer a lifetime guarantee with 50% discount should your glasses break, as they are designed to last for life.
Norse grooming products
These products are great for any person you know with a beard, or someone who doesn't want their beard to grow in! Norse sells a wide variety of items from beard balms, beard soaps and beard oils, to the reusable safety razors that can shave off your beard should you decide that you no longer want to rock one. All these items come in sustainable packaging to help your loved one reduce their waste whilst looking and smelling great.
Zao refillable Makeup
I love Zao Makeup and I love what they're doing to try to reduce waste. They use bamboo in most of their packaging to try to reduce the amount of plastic they use, although they do still use a little, and they also offer refills which use 90% less plastic than if you were to buy a brand new product. The refillable makeup is initially a little pricier than high street options but the refills are often comparable. So this Christmas what about investing in a refillable version for someone as a treat, and then they can then refill it without covering the initial cost?
Egos slippers from Sancho's
Sancho's is an amazing independent store in Exeter, Devon that is committed to ethical and slow fashion. From paying a UK Living wage, to sourcing low impact fabrics for all of their designs, they value sustainable fabric, transparency, ethical production, and affordable clothing that’s curated for you. Sancho's offers a wide selection of ethical clothing and lifestyle products, and even their own Sancho's range.
These Egos slippers are handmade in Nepal to World Fair Trade standards. They're made of 100% wool and are a great way to keep your toes, or the toes of someone you love, warm this Christmas.
National Trust membership
This year what about giving something that's not really a "thing"? You can give a years membership to the national trust and give them free access to over 500 special places. There are options for individual, joint, family or junior memberships to suit whoever you're giving to. This is a great way to reduce physical waste, give someone something to enjoy all year long but also to help someone fall in love with nature again, which we could all do with more of! If the national trust is not for them, what else may they like to join?
Piccalilly clothes make lovely little clothes for lovely little people. Their gorgeous patterned children's clothes are made from organic cotton and are fair trade certified. What's more, all their clothing is manufactured to the highest ethical standards in fully audited child labour free factories. Because, when you think about it, it doesn't seem right that your baby's clothes are made by someone elses child? They offer clothing from newborn up until 10 years, and even adult ponchos if you fall in love with their prints. They also offer organic cotton muslins and bibs which make the perfect gift for a newborn at this time of year.
If you're on a hunt for a gift for a little one this Christmas time, how about a gorgeous soft gift from Pebble? Their products are all Fair Trade guaranteed and ensure Hathay Bunano artisans in Bangladesh have sustainable, regular and flexible employment. There is a range of soft toys, rattles and wooden teething rings but they also offer blankets, bonnets and booties, and have an organic range too.
If none of these items inspire you then there are some questions you can run through to help you decide if the gift you were thinking of is a good zero waste option:
- Do I think they will truly use this item frequently, for a long time?
- Will they be willing to do the upkeep for this item?
- Do the reviews say this item made to last?
- Is there a good guarantee period on this item?
- Can this item be repaired and does the company offer spare parts?
- Does it help them reduce waste further?
- Has it been made in a sustainable way?
- Have the workers been paid and treated ethically?
- Can I buy the same item second hand?
- Can it be recycled at the end of its life?
An item doesn't necessarily need to fulfil all of these criteria to be a good gift for someone if you know they really want and will use it, but it is just something to think about when shopping.
If you and your family do stockings, try to think just as carefully about these gifts as the bigger gifts to ensure that you're not just buying items to fill space. You can have wonderfully stuffed stocking with low waste, ethically, locally made items without novelty Christmas items. Some ideas are:
- Tony's chocoloney or unpackaged snacks
- Consumables like condiments or honey
- Holos Kombucha
- Canned or bottled drinks like locally brewed beer
- Bath bombs from Lush
- Bamboo toothbrushes
- Bars of solid soap
- Zero Waste Path Shop Shampoo bars
- Cinema tickets
- Packets of seeds
- Gift certificates to an independent coffee shop or restaurant
- Makeup remover wipes
- Charity donations in their name
I hope this article has shown you that buying zero waste gifts doesn't automatically mean buying someone a reusable coffee cup or beeswax wraps (although if they have asked for those things go ahead). Zero waste gift giving can simply be giving a well made item that they will truly love and cherish for years to come. With a little thought and planning we can all reduce some of the waste that is generated at Christmas.