This year it’s easier than ever before to buy sustainable gifts for your nearest and dearest, whether that’s something homemade, second hand, or a carefully considered new purchase. Have a good think about what each person likes and might really want or need before you shop, and what impact any presents might have, to give them a gift that’ll benefit both them and the planet.
What to look for
Materials are important, for example, sustainable materials such as bamboo or rice husks, or something upcycled or recycled. Manufacturing matters too: carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative methods, processes which reduce water consumption, and zero-waste manufacture are all increasing.
The purpose of a gift can be to make a sustainable life easier as well: consider buy-it-once-keep-it-forever presents, reusable gifts that reduce the need for single-use items, and anything attractive that can reduce waste of some sort. Another thing to look out for is gifts and/or packaging that are recyclable – ideally easily recyclable, or even rapidly compostable after use.
Food and drink
Edible or drinkable gifts are generally a good choice, and there’s something to suit most tastes.
Natural History Museum x Cooper King Discovery Gin 70cl | £39.00. Buy here.
For starters, this is delicious. The Discovery Gin contains 11 botanicals, including basil, lemongrass and clove, which really bring out the angelica notes in the base and give a herbal character, making it versatile enough to drink on the rocks, with tonic or in a martini. It’s also cold-distilled using 100% renewable energy, and for every bottle sold 1kg of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and one square metre of traditional British woodland is planted – making it carbon negative. Drink lovely gin, save the planet.
CUCIELO Rosso and CUCIELO Bianco vermouth 75cl | RRP £25.00 each. Buy at Ocado (save £3), Amazon (save up to £3), or Master of Malt (up to £3.05 off).
Quality Italian vermouths crafted in Turin, made in harmony with nature and packaged with sustainable or 100% recyclable materials in a stunning Art Deco style. These complex vermouths make great gifts for any cocktail enthusiast, and can be used in spritzes, martinis, negronis, manhattans and more. The bianco has floral notes, rounded off with soft vanilla, ripe fruits, and just the right amount of bitterness, and the rosso is bold with caramelised orange, rhubarb and spices, and an off-dry finish.
One Gin Sage & Orange Zest G&T | £2.95 at Real Drinks.
A pre-mixed gin and tonic from small producers One Gin, with a herby, zesty flavour. Aluminium cans are capable of being endlessly recycled, and their reduced weight makes transportation more energy-efficient. The rest of the spirits section at Real Drinks is also worth a look for a range of interesting cocktails that would make nice stocking fillers.
Graceburn from Blackwoods Cheese Co | £20.00 for all 3 flavours.
Good news for cheese lovers: there’s a cheese company that’s recently won a string of awards for its tasty offerings that are made from organic milk using zero-waste processes. Graceburn cheeses are soft, creamy feta-style cheeses that are marinated in flavoured oils, including Original (garlic, thyme and pepper), Truffle (cold-pressed rapeseed oil and black truffle flecks) and Chipotle Lemon (chilli and lemon zest). The milk comes from a farm that uses regenerative land management so successfully that the resulting milk is carbon negative. NB: contains raw milk.
Sea Arch Drinks Gift Pack (non-alcoholic) | £20.50. Buy here (get free p&P with code: FREESHIP).
This thoughtful, stylish alcohol-free gift pack includes a 25cl bottle of Coastal Juniper spirit plus one Sea & T and one Rose Sea & T ready-to-drink can. The Coastal Juniper is light, refreshing and herbal, and the rose version is fruity with a strong bitter note so it might appeal to negroni fans. The company has made an environmental pledge to have the lowest possible impact on the environment and all of its packaging is plastic free and recyclable or compostable, and even the paint on the bottles is solvent free. Throughout December and January, £1 from every pack sold will be donated by Sea Arch to support the research and conservation work done by The Seahorse Trust.
Prodigy Chocolate Bars, 35g | £1.75. Buy 1 get 1 half price at Holland & Barrett.
Vegan, palm-oil-free chocolate bars with organic ingredients and a rich flavour. They also contain less sugar than standard chocolate and have compostable plastic-free wrappers and boxes, plus some of the proceeds go to recycling initiatives. For a festive treat try the choc-orange or choc-hazelnut versions.
Health and beauty
The cosmetics industry has started to catch up with the demand for cruelty free and sustainable goodies that are both attractive and reasonably priced.
Sprout Makeup Pencils | £9.95 each. Buy at Amazon.
Well, I absolutely love these. Creamy, long-lasting eyeliners in black or brown, and mid-brown brow pencil that’s firmer and ideal for creating realistic hair-like strokes. They’re vegan, hypoallergenic, cruelty free and plastic free. Put any shavings into the compost as you go along, and when you’re finished you can easily recycle the sugar cane cap and actually plant the stub at the end to release wildflower seeds and grow bee-friendly plants. The range is small, and that seems sensible for the eye colours, although I do hope that the brow pencil has at least a couple more inclusive colours added alongside the original in due course.
Planet Revolution Eyeshadow Palettes | RRP £18.00. Buy at Revolution (on offer £12.60) or Superdrug (on offer £10.80).
A newish sub-brand from Revolution Beauty, Planet Revolution is green and vegan and includes some real treats such as this – the world’s first recyclable and biodegradable palette. It’s made from wood pulp and has the feel of plastic but can be composted after use. Simply click-out the keepsake mirror and dispose of the Fibreform palette and FSC™ card packaging in your recycling bin or home composter. Available in multiple colourways, each palette can be used for creating both subtle, everyday looks and striking makeup for a big night out.
Ethique Sugarplum Tinted Lip Balm 9g | £6.50. Buy here.
There’s a new range of lip balms at Ethique, all made from ethically-sourced, sustainable ingredients. Most interestingly, the tubes are suitable for home composting, plus you get a generous 9g of product in each one. There’s even a tinted one for a hint of colour. The whole Ethique range makes fantastic stocking fillers, from solid shampoo to body wash bars.
The Natural Spa Spiced Orange Bath Soak 225g | £5.50. Buy at Considerate Beauty.
Know anyone who’d love a good soak in the tub? This spiced orange bath soak from The Natural Spa smells lovely and is a perfect relaxing winter warmer. It’s also vegan and plastic-free. The cellulose pouch is compostable and all of the stickers are printed using compost safe and vegan inks.
Paper Plane Avocado Sugar Scrub Bar | £7.95. Buy at Considerate Beauty.
A luxurious natural scrub bar with cocoa butter, avocado and olive oil to gently buff away dead skin and leave body and feet soft and smooth. A solid, long lasting vegan beauty bar with 100% natural ingredients, in fully recyclable packaging.
Planet Revolution Reusable Facial Sheet Masks 2-pack | RRP £4.00. Buy at Revolution (now £3.20).
Washable, reusable organic cotton sheet masks – where have you been all my life? Single use sheet masks are not good for the environment, however you look at it, so why not try these washable ones instead? Team it with any serum (brightening, hydrating, soothing etc), then put your feet up and relax.
Are you looking for more eco-friendly gifts this year?
Part 2 of my sustainable gift guide is here.
Disclaimer: All products are samples provided by PRs, or things I’ve tried out at press events, apart from Revolution and Ethique which I purchased myself. I’ve only included things I really like.