Things can get a little bit, well, tricky when it comes to ethical Christmas gifts. Whether you’re trying to be more ethical yourself or have a friend who leans that way, the simple fact of the matter is that items truly made in a socially and environmentally responsible that also make for nice presents can seem a bit thin on the ground. And, really, we know we shouldn’t be buying each other extra stuff in the first place.
But if you’re going to do it, do it right. Take look at our pick of the best ethical and sustainable Christmas gifts. We’ve divided them into her and him, but there are plenty of ideas for everyone, no matter your style. And we bet you’ll end up buying some for yourself, too…
Ethical and sustainable Christmas gifts for her
Odylique organic lipstick in Fig Fondant, £18
Pucker up baby, ‘cos this lipstick is packed full of good stuff that you’ll want to slather all over your lips all day every day. Jojoba and shea butter keep things slick and moisturised, while natural minerals provide long-lasting colour. The plastic lipstick case is recyclable, as is the cardboard box it comes in. Now where’s that mistletoe… ?
Vildnis Valdivian dress, £125
Sashay with an extra spring in your step with this dress from Vildnis, which features a pattern inspired by the colours of the Valdivian rainforest in Chile. The real talking point, though, is that it’s made out of plastic bottles that have been recycled to create an elegant, billowing polyester-like material.
Organic Cotton Boxy T-Shirt, £30
A plain white tee is a classic for a reason. Invest in the finest quality and a gorgeous feel with this 100% organic version from Natural Edition. A staple under blazers in winter and or simple and sophisticated tucked into jeans come spring, this top is an out-and-out winner.
Gung Ho Bee Perfume, £85
Yes, we know £85 is a lot for perfume, but hear us out – this particular bottle packs a serious punch. For starters, it’s got a delightfully refreshing unisex aroma with top notes of bergamot, sweet orange, grapefruit and pepper designed to evoke nectar-rich floral fields and orchards. What’s more, it’s entirely pesticide-free, so you’re buying something that’s good for our buzzy little friends that have given the perfume its name. And throw in the fact that the perfume is an innovative dry oil formula that lasts longer and moisturises your skin (but isn’t greasy) and doesn’t use the usual perfumer’s alcohol that leaves chemicals behind on your skin. The perfume is handmade in London, and it comes in a one-off drawstring bag made out of offcuts from Gung Ho’s clothing line. Tick, tick, tick.
Valentina Karellas Danvers scarf, £120
Valentina Karellas Danvers beanie, £50
Blue is literally the warmest colour with this eye-popping scarf, made out of 100% cashmere. Valentina Karellas uses surplus cashmere that’s made to the highest ethical standards – and because the material is so hard to find, once an item is gone, it’s gone. Go go go!
Like the scarf? Buy the hat, too. Valentina Karellas makes everything on a vintage industrial knitting machine and is completely transparent about the production process, right down to the amount of water that’s used to make every product.
Gather & See Little by Little Apple Pip stud earrings, £90
There’s only one word we’d use to describe these apple pip-inspired studs: lovely. They’re more Art Deco than, erm, foodstuff, and clever design means you can wear them two ways; one as a straight-up stud, the other with the larger rounds sat behind your earlobe. Not only does a portion of each sale go to Luminary Bakery – a social enterprise bakery in East London – but they’re handmade in Peru to high ethical standards, too.
Vildnis Jinhae knit jumper, £115
Made out of recycled Italian merino wool, this classic jumper comes in two colours – keep things simple in black, or go bright red for extra Christmas points. The snuggle is real.
Leticia Credido Leggings with Feet, £90
Leggings with… feet? Isn’t that every woman’s dream in winter? These babies are made out of naturally dyed organic-certified heavy jersey that will keep you snug as a bug when temperatures drop. Leticia Credido is an Italian-Japanese Brazilian-born designer based in East London who suffered with sleep for years before deciding to channel her creative energies into establishing a sleepwear brand that encourages slowing down and taking time to rest.
The Natural Edition Stretch-Tencel Long Sleeve Top, £39
MAMOQ vegan watch, from £120
Simple, Scandi-esque design means these watches are as versatile as they come (choose the gold case with a dark strap if you fancy pairing up with the snazzy apple pip earrings above). But beyond just looking good, they do good, too. Founder of Votch, Laura Way, vowed never to use animal products after suffering a rare and painful skin condition. The strap is made out of vegan leather, and the timepiece will arrive tucked up in an eco-friendly felt pouch and box.
Rapanui organic smock jacket, £75
Waterproof? Check? Stylish? Check? Lightweight? Check. This organic canvas wax shell jacket is just about everything we dreamed of and more. It comes in both a smock and zip-up version, and the fit is just right for sitting on top of a snuggly winter jumper. We’ll take one of each, please.
BEEN Islington backpack, £229
BEEN make these backpacks by hand in London entirely from premium recycled materials. They make the lining and zips from recycled bottles. The main body is from leather offcuts and trimmings reconstructed into patented recycled leather. As well as looking stylish you’ll be organised too, with three internal pockets and a discreet zipped pocket at the back to keep your valuables safe.
The Odylique selection box, £27
All the best bits from a Suffolk-based beauty brand that only uses fairly traded, cruelty-free organic ingredients, from the Calming Rose Super Tonic to the Gentle Herb Shampoo. And, extra bonus – all the packaging is recyclable, too.
Ethical and sustainable Christmas gifts for him
The Level Collective Mountains Water Bottle, £30
These medical-grade stainless-steel, 100% BPA-free and dishwasher safe reusable bottles from The Level Collective look so good that you won’t even want to use a disposable plastic bottle again, no matter how convenient.
The sale of each bottle supports Miir’s Boise Bicycle Project. The charity provides training and opportunities for women coming out prison to repair bicycles for children in their community. This helps to rehabilitate, empower and reconnect people to their communities.
FAIR. Extra Old Rum, £33.34
Think Human, Drink Fair is the strap line of this spirits brand, which ensures its top-quality tipples are made from Fairtrade ingredients. FAIR.’s award-winning rum is made from sugar cane grown using sustainable farming methods on small farm plots and aged in American bourbon barrels for a smooth, gentle vanilla finish. One of those ethical Christmas gifts for him that keep on giving.
Leticia Credido Essential Oil Before Sleeping Candle, £25
Elvis & Kresse Fire & Hide wallet, £90
There’s no doubting that this beautifully handcrafted wallet is an upgrade on the tatty, worn-out thing your giftee is currently toting in his back pocket – and for extra brownie points, you can have the wallet monogrammed too.
An impressive 100% of Elvis & Kresse’s raw materials are rescued or reclaimed, and this particular wallet is part of a collection that rescues every decommissioned fire hose from all fire stations in London, saving the materials from landfill. Plus, the exterior is rescued leather and lining is made from parachute silk. As well as giving the materials a second chance, Elvis & Kresse donate 50% of their profits to the Fire Fighters Charity.
RiLEY Recycled Cashmere Beanie, £65
This beautifully soft and stylish beanie is crafted in Scotland using Re.VerSo yarn from Italy, which is made out of pre- and post-consumer fibre waste. It offers the same quality as virgin cashmere, but with a much smaller carbon footprint. This is what cutting-edge eco-friendly innovative technology looks like, folks – and we can tell you that we like what we see.
MAMOQ, Stand4Socks, £9.99
Is it even Christmas if you don’t give or receive a pair of socks? But instead of buying a run-of-the-mill version, opt for one that gives a little back, too. If we all chose to buy an ethical sock that gives back, just think how much good we’d do! For every pair you purchase, Mamoq gives another pair of thick, antibacterial socks to a homeless person.
Stand4Socks do exactly what their name suggests – they stand for something. Each pair of socks is linked to a different cause associated with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and they’re made in factories with high ethical standards in Turkey.
MAMOQ, True Boxers, £19.99
You wear pants every day, so you might as well make sure they feel pretty darn comfortable. You want to treat those sensitive areas right, if you know what we’re saying. True Boxers uses Oeko-Tex certified poplin cotton signifying environmentally friendly practices throughout the entire textile supply chain from fibre to fabric. It also ensures products are free from harmful, or toxic substances. They work with European supply and manufacturing partners who share a commitment to fair production and sustainability.
The White T-Shirt Co. Sleep shorts with pockets, £36
Christmas is the perfect opportunity for new PJs. These sleep shorts have deep pockets and a tie waist for relaxed lounging – ideal after pigging out at the Christmas meal. Plus, they’re made from organic cotton which is soft and naturally breathable, so perfect for sleepwear.
The Level Collective, Roll Top Mini backpack, £179
This backpack will take you straight from city working to country leisure pursuits. Each one offers beauty and functionality and is handcrafted in the UK from weatherproof hybrid waxed organic cotton. It has a 9-11 litre capacity with hand-cut and clever compartmentalisation for your laptop and water bottle.
The Level Collective offer a lifetime repair guarantee with their backpacks. Plus, any repairs needed in the first three years are free, making this purchase a no-brainer.
Patagonia, ‘Gift of Giving’
What ethical Christmas gifts can you buy the people who have it all? Well, until 31st December if you make a donation to a grassroots environmental NGO fighting to protect the planet, Patagonia will match it pound for pound. You can select the organisation according to location and send a digital eCard, print a card from home, or pick up a physical card in any Patagonia store to gift to your loved one.
Patagonia are matching all donations made on Patagonia Action Works up to £10,000 per donation until they’ve reached a maximum match of $10,000,000.