Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year – a chance to relax, spend time with loved ones and chomp through your favourite chocolates before anyone else gets a look-in.
But it’s also the single most stuff-laden time of the year, with a flurry of gifts exchanging hands throughout the season. We each spend an average of £381.60 on Christmas gifts every year, and as a nation we waste millions of pounds on unwanted gifts.
That’s not only a huge waste of money, but it means tonnes of items are being shoved into drawers and into the backs of cupboards never to be seen again – a big waste of the energy and other resources needed to produce them in the first place. And, of course, a lot of the usual Christmas pressies – shower gel gift sets and novelty stocking fillers, for example – are already laden with plastic, which takes a major environmental toll.
But environmental worries needn’t interfere with the spirit of Christmas – ‘tis the season of giving, after all! Here are our top tips for gifting a bit more eco-consciously this December.
1. Ask them what they actually want
This is a bit of a radical idea in a world obsessed with the perfect Christmas morning surprise, but simply asking your loved ones what they want can save a lot of wasted money, not to mention potential disappointment. If you get a general idea, you can then put a personal stamp on it with your choice of colour / style / size / flavour / etc.
2. Keep the receipt
…and just in case you get it outrageously wrong, tuck the receipt in an envelope in the package. That way they can swap it for a colour, size or flavour that they actually want (or exchange it for something completely different that they’ll actually use).
3. Give the gift of a shared experience
Having something to open on Christmas morning is a major part of the day, but not all the gifts you give have to be physical items. Consider vouchers (official or homemade) for a fun activity after Christmas. It could be tickets to a show, a trip to the zoo, a fancy dinner somewhere, or even an IOU for something like babysitting! After all, memories will last much longer than any artfully-packaged gift set.
4. Don’t do presents at all
Probably not a feasible suggestion if kids are involved, but for the adults in your life, why not simply opt out of gifting altogether? Instead of fretting about what to get your picky sister-in-law, or buying your cousin yet another set of bath bombs, agree to go gift-free this year. You might even choose to give the money you would have otherwise spent to a good cause (or splurge it on yourself – no judgement here).
Charities to support this Christmas:
5. Choose sustainable gifts
But if gift-giving is firmly on your agenda, make sure the items you buy are ethically-produced. Ethy is home to hundreds of independent makers and sustainable brands that put the planet at the heart of everything they do. And what’s more, ethically-produced gifts are better quality and way more unique than anything you’ll find in the usual high street stores.
Make sure you order early, though. Because these special items aren’t mass-produced they will take a little longer to arrive!
Here are some ideas.
SUPPORT SOCIAL CAUSES
Christmas is a time for kindness and thinking about our community. A great way to take action on this and support your community (local or national or even global) is by choosing to buy from organisations that help our communities thrive.
ethy's sustainability standards for Thriving Communities include organisations that are bettering communities. Actions can range from championing equality and promoting the well-being of their people to engaging with the community to deliver wider social or environmental value. Some of these verified brands are:
BEAUTY AND TOILETRIES
Boasting Marie Claire's award for Best Sustainable Makeup Brand 2022, Seeds of Colour is all about gorgeous makeup whilst minimising the environmental impact. Using innovative technology, the company extracts pigments from organic fruit and vegetables to create award-winning naturally-coloured cosmetics packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
Their Lip, Cheek, Lid natural makeup cream in wintery berry red is our favourite this year:
A smoothy natural pigment for lip, cheek and lid that love a pop of colour. Dermatologically tested for all skin types.
Ocean & Bee are a female-led online marketplace on a mission to simplify green living. They use their platform to showcase the work of independent British brands and aim to support the sustainable livelihoods of talented artisans who respect the planet. Check out their gift boxes made for sustainable pampering!
Natural Organic Family is founded on the principle that every ingredient matters. We like their multi-award winning Vitamin C Serum with potent blend of vitamins A, C, E & Hyaluronic Acid that helps to boost collagen production, smooth fine lines & wrinkles and soothe & tone the skin.
Kutis create hand-poured natural deodorant and skincare using a careful blend of high-quality, ethically-sourced ingredients, including lots of scrumptious smelling essential oils.
For more ideas see the selection from ethy verified beauty brands:
Loft & Daughter aims to empower you to express your individual sense of style without compromising on your values. From beautiful handcrafted jewellery to environmentally considerate homewares, Loft & Daughter offer a collection of carefully created lifestyle products that recognise the skilled artisans that made them.
We like these absolutely adorable cushion covers. Loft & Daughter's first block print cushion range is made in partnership with a women’s cooperative and printed on soft organic cotton twill, finished with their signature chunky handcrafted tassels. Featuring a traditional Indian paisley & peacock print in delicate grey & soft blue, on a natural ivory base cloth.
Inspired by a 5000-year-old dyeing process, GIBIE was founded to provide the finest bath linen through an amalgamation of modern design and traditional natural processes. In contrast to conventional, chemical-intensive textile production processes, GIBIE uses herbal dyeing methods with sustainable materials like bamboo and organic cotton to create their collection of luxury linen. A quality gift that lasts for many years to come.
Fine Cell Work is a charity that makes beautiful handmade products in British prisons, many designed in collaboration with the UK’s leading contemporary designers. We love their range of comfy squishy cushions that come in a wide range of trendy, unique styles.
Forget cheap, mass-produced furniture. For quality pieces with a difference, Little Tree Furniture is a must-visit. Operating under the mantra ‘woodworking with a conscience’, each of their pieces are entirely unique, made from reclaimed wood that could have been anything from a fortress door to a fishing boat!
Explore more brands and ideas for home-related Christmas gifts here:
Lowie is a sustainable womenswear brand striving to preserve traditional handicraft techniques and heritage elements while placing environmental impact at the heart of everything it does. Gift ideas include edgy and colourful hats, socks and scarves. But our favourite for this Christmas would be Rachel Jackson's stylised Art Deco padlock necklace, an icon of love and symbolic of indestructible bonds. Inscribe your sweetheart's initials on the reverse. Love lock hangs on a luxe, adjustable-length rolo chain.
Lucy & Sam offer high quality, unisex baby & toddler clothing that is both sustainably made and fabulously fun. They currently have a campaign you may want to take a look at here.
It’s not Christmas without new socks, and Wild Socks fit the bill perfectly. The sale of every pair of soft, snuggly and eye-catching animal print socks goes to support charities that protect animals and sea life around the world.
For more gift ideas also see the below brands:
Below is a selection of ethy verified brands that offer that little bit of fun for your stocking fillers.
Or you can simply search here on ethy by keyword or product you're after!
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