As the holiday season swiftly rolls in, this year I’ve compiled a list of sustainable and ethical gift ideas for a variety of people in your world. This gift guide includes ideas for: the storyteller, the zero waster, the hygge fan, the social justice advocate, the self care supporter, the lover of quirky design, the luxurious friend, and the mini humans. I’ve also included suggestions for eco holiday cards, DIY alternative gifts, and my annual alternative Christmas playlist.
So have a peruse, get inspired, and happy holidays!
FOR THE STORYTELLERS
Made Trade brings together beautifully designed and ethically-sourced items from artisans and makers around the globe, personally hand-selecting the best fair trade, sustainable, USA made, vegan and heritage products to provide as many options as possible.
These beautiful coasters from Slash Objects are made from 100% post-consumer recycled rubber, sourced from local USA manufacturers, also making them vegan friendly. All their products are ethically and fairly made in Brooklyn, New York, and Slash Objects is both a women-owned company and a living wage employer.
Plus, Made Trade provides carbon-neutral shipping and donates 1% of sales to Fibershed, an incredible charity dedicated to creating and supporting regenerative fiber systems and “carbon beneficial” clothing supply chains.
Lochtree aim to create a fresh approach to sustainability, helping ordinary people on the journey of creating a more eco-friendly home. From the kitchen to the bathroom, their marketplace provides sustainable alternatives that are high quality and convenient to use, while helping you live a more minimal, slow and sustainable lifestyle. They’re a place where everyone is welcome. From the lifelong environmentalist to those who are just beginning, they’re here to make progress steady and simple for all.
Plus, Lochtree believe in giving back. They are a member of 1% for the Planet, a global network of organisations that commit to giving 1% of sales revenue back to the planet, as well as OneTreePlanted, who plant a tree for every Lochtree purchase or email subscriber. Thus far, Lochtree has planted over 500 trees. They also have partnerships with OffGridBox, who provide clean water and solar energy to those in remote areas, and Rozalia Project, who fight marine pollution through cleanup and education.
MY TOP PICK: The hand wash and on the go hand soap are refillable, packaged in recycled glass, and made with organic oils and moisturising aloe to cleanse and nourish, or the Cora ball which collects microfibres in your laundry, preventing shedding of plastic pollution into our oceans when you wash your clothes.
Beacon & Armour
Established in 2018, Beacon & Armour’s jumpers are inspired by heritage and stories of the past. Their jumpers are spun from local, 100% British wool, are ethically made in Great Britain, and are designed to last a lifetime and be treasured for decades to come.
MY TOP PICK: the absolutely gorgeous Guernsey jumper. This design is inspired by traditional jumpers created on the island of Guernsey in the 17th century, which were predominantly worn by fishermen as they kept them warm and dry whatever the weather. The unique stitch patterns in these jumpers were created to represent a sailing ship’s rope ladder, breaking waves, and pebbles, stones and sand.
Can’t afford it all at once? You can also spread your payment out over 4 months with no added interest.
Little by Little
Little by Little Jewellery create food-inspired jewellery (what a combination) that is transparent, sustainable and beautiful. Each piece is ethically made in Peru using a mix of locally sourced recycled and sustainably sourced virgin metal (they are also aiming for closed loop production in 2019). Jewellery comes in recycled packing that is made in the UK, and Little by Little also partner with Action Against Hunger. With each item sold they donate the funding to pay for three day’s supply of therapeutic food to nurse an acutely malnourished child back to health.
MY TOP PICK: their new Mustard Collection launched just in time for the holidays, Inspired by, you guessed it, mustard seeds, I absolutely love how delicate, interesting and versatile these pieces are.
The Way We Move Through Water
The Way We Move Through Water is the debut poetry collection written by poet, and friend of mine, Lino Anunciacion. It is scenic verse; dealing with the legacy of our pasts, pain, history and redemption. It’s really beautiful, and your financial support goes directly to a wonderful individual! If you want to support talented and emerging POC artists this holiday season, this book is a great place to start.
Green Banana Paper
Based in Kosrae, Micronesia, Green Banana Paper create vegan, organic, plastic free accessories. They create opportunities for local subsistence farmers to earn extra income from unwanted banana plants, using this waste material to create banana fibre paper, which is biodegradable, hardwearing, rapidly renewable and water-resistant. Their small-scale factory works to directly employ and train as many local artisans as possible, paying them 50-150% more than the minimum wage, and the factory utilises the natural resources of the island to create a low impact manufacturing process.
MY TOP PICK: The Vegan Bifold Wallet. I’ve had mine for nearly two years, it’s still going strong and I love it. It also leads to many a conversation, as a lot of people don’t know Micronesia exists!
FOR THE ZERO WASTE ENTHUSIAST
PlanetCare’s goal is to eradicate microplastic ocean pollution. Synthetic fabrics shed plastic microfibres into waterways when washed, which ultimately end up in our oceans. PlanetCare’s washing machine filter stops the problem at the source, catching 90% of harmful microplastics before they flow into wastewater. It’s such an effective solution that it was the first to receive the ‘Ocean Clean Wash’ label, awarded by Plastic Soup Foundation.
PlanetCare’s solution is also completely closed loop. Their filters are easy to install on any washing machine and use reusable cartridges that are replaced every 15 – 20 washes. Simply send the cartridges back (without cleaning the fibres away), and PlanetCare professionally remove and repurpose the caught fibres on their end. They also refurbish the cartridges to be used in future, taking full responsibility for keeping microfibres out of the environment and avoiding waste at every stage.
Use the code FRANCESCAPLANET10 for 10% off
grünBAG create their bags from recycled industrial materials, both diverting waste from landfill and making them incredibly hardwearing, and the perfect investment. Their backpacks are made from surplus truck tarpaulin, which is waterproof, strong and stain-resistant, and are hand sewn in Denmark. They’ll keep even your most prized possessions safe from the elements, while their designs are minimal, functional and totally unique.
MY TOP PICK: The Alden backpack, designed by the founder of Ecocult herself. It has so many helpful compartments, and I LOVE this colour!
The ultimate plastic free phone case, Pela’s alternative is home compostable, BPA-free, non-toxic, and ethically made in Canada, plus it’s made using Canadian flax that would have otherwise been burned. Beautiful, functional and fair to the earth.
MY TOP PICK: Lead The Way Rose Quartz case
Guppyfriend’s wash bag is also designed to stop synthetic garments from releasing harmful microfibres into the environment. Made from fully recyclable polyamide, the bag reduces friction so stops your synthetic clothes shedding as much, and it catches any microfibres that are released.
Cacao Pow Deodorant
This aluminium free deodorant bar is made in the UK in small batches from mainly organic cacao, comes in a glass jar, and can last from 3 – 6 months. It’s unisex, cruelty free, vegan, doesn’t stain clothes and has a lovely chocolatey smell (that disappears when you apply it). It’s also beautifully designed, and perfectly stocking sized.
SAYA designs‘ wooden hair sticks are uniquely handcrafted by artisans in Bali and utilise waste materials. They recycle root wood; left behind by loggers on old commercial plantations across Indonesia, which otherwise would take hundreds of years to decompose and have little value for the soil. For every hair stick purchased, SAYA Designs also buys and plants up to ten seeds of endangered trees through their partner organisation GAIA.
MY TOP PICK: The Frangipani hair stick.
GreenBook is a customisable, erasable notebook to last your entire life. Choose the pages you want (eg. to do lists, note paper, habit trackers and yearly, monthly, weekly and hourly planners) and organise how you prefer, but each is a whiteboard page that can be erased and rewritten in endlessly. The book comes with a non-smudging refillable pen and erasing spray (made in Germany and the UK using non-toxic, low impact formulas) and the pages, although designed to last, are able to be recycled at the end of their life.
MY TOP PICK: Sanny Van Loon limited edition books
Retrospecced are a social enterprise that upcycles retro and designer glasses frames. They are partnered with Vision Aid Overseas, taking the best donated vintage and designer frames and selling them on to you, customised to your specific sunglasses or prescription needs. They also donate 20% of the profits directly to Vision Aid Overseas, and work with local opticians to repurpose old glasses cases by using them to house their products.
Made from sustainably sourced organic bamboo, this reusable coffee cup is designed to be able to be used at least 1,000 times. It has a double lining of stainless steel to keep drinks hot or cold for hours, and comes with a lid that can be twisted to closed or open positions, making it easy to take on the go. For those who may not be keen on a conventional reusable cup, this one makes life even easier by coming with a handle.
Lara Intimates are an incredible zero waste brand, creating their bras from unused surplus luxury lingerie fabrics that would have otherwise gone to landfill. Each piece is produced in-house in their all-female studio in central London, and items are made to order to your specific measurements. That’s right, a bra that actually fits.
MY TOP PICK: The Wren Bra
Based in Ishinomaki, Nozomi Project take broken pottery that that is donated to them from all across Japan and transform it into a variety of accessories. Each piece is ethically handmade by women in the local area.
MY TOP PICK: I personally have a necklace, but their Christmas ornaments are always one to watch for a reason. Each design is completely unique!
Megumi’s products are created from donated kimonos, which are consciously upcycled in Onagawa, Japan, by women who were affected by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. All designs are created by a local woman, Kato San, and Megumi produce a variety of products including journals, bags, scarves, ties, hair accessories, jewellery, table runners and more. I particularly love their headbands.
One of the earliest pioneers of ethical coffee, Percol come close to the top of Ethical Consumer’s coffee rankings. They have a carbon neutral supply chain, have been offering single origin and single estate coffee for just under 30 years, and are currently working to go completely plastic free. Many of their coffees come in reusable or recyclable packaging, however their coffee capsules are the real winner, as they’re the first Nespresso compatible capsules that are plant based and compostable (check with your local council, but you should be able to put them in your food waste bin). The holidays may just be the perfect time to help the Nespresso users in your life get a little greener.
FOR A HYGGE HOLIDAY
Lüks Linen‘s multipurpose products are sustainably and slowly created in Turkey. Their cotton is grown in South Turkey and then handed over to local family-run ateliers who spin, dye and weave it in the area it was cultivated, supporting local industries against the rise of mass production. Their products are also either completely handmade or produced using semi-automatic looms, sometimes taking up to two weeks to complete, a process that results in better quality cotton and produces a more durable product, which comes with a 20 year repair or replace guarantee.
MY TOP PICK: the Cemile scarf, aka the cosiest thing I own!
GlobeIn’s mission is to connect artisans to mindful customers, promoting craftsmanship and authenticity from around the world. They have monthly subscription boxes filled with artisan-created items and curated around different themes, or you can buy a one off gift.
MY TOP PICK: The cosy box
GDS Cloth Coffee Filter
For those who like to take the time to create the perfect cup of coffee, this reusable coffee filter is made in Oakland from US-grown organic cotton that is woven in South Carolina. Unlike paper filters which need to be thrown away each day, this filter lasts from 90 – 120 uses, which is 3-4 months, and can be composted at the end of its life. They have filters for Chemex, V60, plus alternatives for No. 4 and No.2 filters.
All Asquith London’s sustainable yoga gear is ethically made in a family-run factory in southern Turkey with GOTS organic certification, while their other fabrics are Oeko-Tex certified. Their pieces are created with a specifically designed fabric that blends organic cotton, sustainably sourced bamboo and a small amount of elastane; this makes them much more durable than high street options while also being naturally anti-bacterial, breathable, sweat wicking and brilliantly stretchy. They also have options for plus size and maternity/post partum bodies.
MY TOP PICK: the move it leggings in navy – perfect for a cosy night at home.
People Tree have been pioneering ethical and fair trade fashion for longer than I’ve been alive, so they really know what they’re doing. They were the first company in the world to receive GOTS certification for their supply chain, and all their pieces are made by artisans and sustainable producers.
MY TOP PICKS: their classic stripe breton, sock set, & handmade mittens.
Teaming up with fellow Swiss brand Pomoca, Baabuk’s Pomobuk slippers combine sustainably sourced natural Portugese wool uppers with manufacturing offcuts from freeride and ski mountaineering skins for the soles. These cuttings are saved from landfill and given new life as a durable bottom for slippers which also gives great grip, even on wooden floors. Each sole is also randomly crafted from Pomoca’s seven shades, so you get a colourful surprise when you open the box.
These guys are huge in the sustainability scene; using eco-friendly and low waste fabrics, ethical factories and tracking their environmental impact. They’re also an accessible alternative brand for ethical fashion newbies.
MY TOP PICKS: Love Your Mother hoodie, Yellow beanie, Pyjama set
FOR THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE
These socks are ethically made in the UK, feature some incredibly fun designs and come packaged in tins that can be repurposed or recycled. Using the principle wear a pair, share a pair, every pair of Jollie’s socks sold is matched with a pair donated to a homeless charity in your area to be distributed to their service users. You can see their full list of partners here.
MY TOP PICK: The skippers are available in organic cotton, I personally love the yellow.
ARTICLE 22’s jewellery is ethically and sustainably produced in Laos, the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. Artisans use metal from bomb shrapnel to create unique pieces, and each piece purchased clears 3 square metres of land through financially supporting organisations who safely & expertly clear bombs. As well as providing sustainable economic development, fair income (at least 5x local minimum wage) and community investment, this endeavour also returns land that had been sitting unused for decades back to Laotians for redevelopment and agriculture.
MY TOP PICK: Arrow Bangle
Know The Origin
Both a staple in the wardrobe and in my gift suggestions, Know The Origin are one of the most transparent fashion brands I know. Their own collection has a fully traceable fair trade, organic and sustainable supply chain, while their wider online store features a collection of pieces from brands who meet their thorough ethical and sustainable requirements.
MY TOP PICK: I love their colourful basics, but this year my pick goes to the Optimist Tee created in collaboration with Birdsong; the embroidery was done in the UK through a community sewing school in East London, which provides sewing lessons for women from low income backgrounds and people with disabilities, and money from sales goes back into providing support for the group.
This Is A Good Guide
Written by Marieke Eyskoot, this book is as beautiful as it is practical. It’s packed full of useful tips covering sustainability in fashion, food, home, work, beauty and more, and it shows that sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing style. It’s an interesting read that makes ethical living attainable and fun, and includes interviews with sustainable pioneers and a directory of brands, stores, restaurants and sustainable destinations across the globe. Plus it looks great on a coffee table!
Not everyone wants to receive a physical gift at Christmas, and there are plenty of people in need who they would rather see a gift go to. In this case, please considering supporting War Child’s work in Yemen on behalf of a loved one, as Yemen is currently in the midst of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. War Child were the first international NGO to register in Yemen since the war started, and their team is on the ground distributing emergency food vouchers (each voucher helps a family buy food for a month) and educating on hygiene to stop the spread of cholera.
FOR SEASONAL SELF CARE
Zuela create lingerie with wellbeing in mind, as they aim to break down the stigma around mental health. Their pieces are comprised of bamboo and organic cotton (their lace is currently nylon, but they’re sourcing a sustainable alternative for future designs) which are created in Turkey and sourced from a small family-run company that specialises in organic textiles. All of their pieces are then handmade in the UK and packaged in sustainable materials. Each bra also contains a built in pocket full of ethically sourced crystals to promote wellbeing, and 5% of Zuela’s net profits are donated to Mind Chairty, in aid of mental health.
MY TOP PICK: Quartz Bra
The best haircare discovery I’ve made in years, Hairy Jayne’s products are sulfate free, paraben free, naturally derived, vegan, cruelty free, and made in Brixton, London. Their bottles are recyclable, but you can also order plastic-free refills and keep the same ones for life. Their products are incredibly nourishing, and you can definitely feel the difference compared to other products.
MY TOP PICK: create a custom gift box
Run by Swedish designer Ida, Kinder Prints are printed in small batches on earth friendly paper in Malmö, then picked up by Ida and her bicycle.They are then shipped in packaging that is 100% recyclable and plastic free.
MY TOP PICK: this Flower Girl print that was inspired by Ida’s experiences of mental health and self care.
Sukin’s beauty products are made in Australia using natural ingredients and are cruelty free, vegan, sulfate and paraben free and non GMO. Their packaging is recyclable or reusable, and their supply chain is carbon neutral.
MY TOP PICK: the oil balancing cleanser, detoxifying facial scrub and paw paw ointment can help your skin survive even the worst of winters.
These are my personal favourite gifts to give, because you can tailor them uniquely to the recipient. At a time when both buying and receiving gifts can sometimes put pressure on our mental health, opting for an experience gift can lift the stress from both sides, and create space for meaningful memories and some self love instead. Treat someone to a nice meal, a theatre trip or concert tickets, or if you’re looking for a version on a lower budget plan a day that consists of free/low cost activities, but has real thought and planning behind what you’re doing and why the recipient would enjoy it. Visit some free art exhibitions, go on an independent coffee shop crawl, take a day out in the countryside. Whatever works for you, if the thought and care is there, it will be meaningful.
FOR UNIQUE DESIGN
neo • thread
The ultimate in cool upcycling, neo • thread’s idea is that each piece is not old, not new. Clothing isn’t restored to its former glory, instead it becomes something new and unique. Each piece is ethically produced and low waste, whilst also aiming to empower and inspire customers to express their individuality.
MY TOP PICK: Fruit Lady Tee
Hempme’s products are vegan, cruelty free, ethically-made in Australia and certified by Australian Certified Organic (ACO). Their face cream blends hemp seed oil with ingredients like aloe vera, jojoba oil and kakadu plum oil. Their formulas are a rich source of antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins, and are brilliant for protecting, hydrating, nourishing and boosting skin, plus they smell and look brilliant.
MY TOP PICK: the classic face cream. Tried and tested since 2016, and I still love it.
Gung Ho Design
London based Gung Ho Design combines a whimsical aesthetic with designs that are versatile, high quality, and filled with deeper meaning and purpose. Each item is designed by hand by founder Sophie Dunster; created to be both beautiful and to connect people with environmental issues, and with each purchase Gung Ho donates to a corresponding charity working with this cause. Each piece is made from organic cotton which is hand printed in the UK using responsible dyes, whilst the final collection is handmade in London.
MY TOP PICK: the Bee Embroidered Jumper or the Puffin Lifesaver Dress.
While secondhand is always an industry I love to support, not all vintage retailers are as ethical as they seem. If you’re looking for something special and circular this season, then my recommendation always goes to Trendlistr, a Newcastle based vintage store who source each and every item by hand from across Europe, mainly Brussels and France. They scour house sales, vide greniers and a variety of other sources, specifically choosing unique and interesting pieces, and they often sell a mix of pieces that are designer, luxury and playful. In my opinion they’re the best in the business when it comes to vintage.
A lot of their pieces get snapped up fast, so follow their Instagram stories to keep up to date with new pieces coming in.
Combining gender equality, sustainable production and post-punk aesthetics, WYNAD’s clothes are ethically and sustainably made in India, and they donate 10% of all sales to women empowerment projects in rural India. Plus their range offers something for every taste!
MY TOP PICK: Lotus Silk Kimono
Brothers We Stand
One of the biggest problems in sustainable fashion is how lacking male options can sometimes be. If we want to introduce more men to sustainability and get them involved, Brothers We Stand is a great place to start. Brothers We Stand is an online marketplace specialising in sustainable and ethical menswear. Any brand stocked must meet a series of criteria including labour standards, transparency, quality design and durability. They also curate a mix of styles, including both minimal and more interesting designs in their stock to ensure you can find something for everyone.
MY TOP PICK: the Alaska Essential Shirt from Brava Fabrics. Ethically made in Portugal with 100% organic cotton, this is a classic winter staple with a unique twist in the collar design. It’s timeless and luxurious, but with a little more of an interesting story too. Or shop their gift guide here.
Use the code ‘EthicalUnicorn’ for 10% off
FOR LOVERS OF LUXURY
Francis Stories is a Portugal based brand specialising in high quality knitwear comprised of natural, sustainably sourced fibres and ethically crafted in Europe. Their designs focus on beautiful and timeless aesthetics that transcend the seasons, and their pieces are also specifically crafted with quality and longevity in mind. With muted tones and playful, yet understated, features each piece is uniquely versatile, elegant and full of character.
MY TOP PICK: the Izabel, Alexia or Esme jumpers
Based in Denmark, Nordgreen aims to deliver Scandinavian design that is honest, sustainable and puts others first. As well as being sustainably made, Nordgreen donates money to their partner charities with the sale of each watch, allowing you to choose between NGOs working in education, rainforest protection or providing clean water. Each watch comes with a unique serial number, which allows you to track the impact your donation specifically creates.
MY TOP PICK: the Philospher Watch in rose gold
Use the code FR35 for 20% off the entire webshop
London based KASHKA believe in making beautiful and meaningful jewellery that is also ethical and sustainable. Their pieces are all child labour free and use traceable raw materials, and small scale production. At the same time their designs are sophisticated, elegant and versatile to every need. I’ve met the brains behind this brand, and know their passion for creating jewellery that is modern, inspiring and interesting, without the damage.
MY TOP PICK: Nina Bracelet in Rose Gold
For anyone who enjoys a touch of luxury Untouched World are the best in the business. Recognised by the UN for their sustainability work, their creations are ethically made (normally in Christchurch, New Zealand) from natural materials. Every piece is designed with the full garment life cycle in mind, considering every step of the cradle to cradle journey, whilst also working hard to minimise water use and maximise recycling and waste recovery.
MY TOP PICK: the organic soybean shirt, which is literally made with soybeans!
Pay all at once, or over the course of 6 months.
BY SARAH is a London-based brand, run by sister duo Sarah and Lauren, with the goal of bringing transparency and simplicity to skincare. Their products are created from organic, sustainably sourced ingredients before being hand-blended in England and packaged in glass, and are certified vegan and cruelty free. BY SARAH also value transparency, so each product carries a full ingredient list on the front and scientific names on the reverse, helping bring clarity and understanding to your skin care.
MY TOP PICK: the organic facial oil
MUD sell sustainable, ethically-made jeans made from 40% recycled jeans and 60% organic cotton. They also have a certified carbon neutral supply chain, use mills that recycle their water and produce no waste, and have wash techniques that aren’t chemical intensive and require less water. They also run their Lease A Jeans programme; letting you rent jeans for a small fee each month until you’re done with them, before returning them to be recycled into new products.
MY TOP PICK: I have the boyfriend basin in light stone, and I love them.
FOR THE MINI HUMANS
Leo & The Lion Learn Of Love
Written by my friend Holly of Leotie Lovely; Leo & The Lion Learn Of Love is a picture book for the conscious child, discussing the cause and effect of Love versus Hate with lessons on how to live a life of Love from the wise old Lion. Harnessing the love children so freely emit, the Lion teaches young Leo how to care for himself and the world around him with his heartfelt sagacity. Holly’s words and illustrator Caroline Winneguth’s gentle watercolour scenery use the Lion’s wisdom to communicate the complexities of the modern world in a way which encourages children to work towards a kinder, fairer, more unified and peaceful future.
SHOP HERE – USE THE CODE ETHICALUNICORN FOR 10% OFF
From Babies With Love
From Babies With Love work with the charities SOS Children’s Villages and Street Child, donating their profits to provide a family home, education, healthcare and support to overcome trauma. All their designs are also ethically and sustainably sourced, They use the softest 100% organic cotton, and their toys are made from wood from sustainable sources that come in recyclable packaging.
MY TOP PICK: their nautical nesting cubes or their family gift pouches
Little Difference is an eco-friendly stationery brand that create greeting cards, notebooks, and prints inspired by nature. All of Little Difference’s products are made using 100% recycled paper and 100% biodegradable packaging. Their mission is to make the consumer happy and fulfilled with a uniquely designed product that signifies they have made a “Little Difference” in the world whilst making a net positive impact on nature by regeneration the world’s forests. For this reason they have started a “1 Card, 1 Tree” initiative where they pay for the planting, raising and protection of one tree towards reforestation for every single product sold.
Looking for something a little more crafty? Luckily this is an area I’ve covered in the past. My favourite recipes are featured below:
- Homemade nutella
- Infused alcohol
- Homemade bath bombs
- Cinnamon body scrub
- Homemade bath melts
- Homemade candles
- Nourishing moisturiser
- Hair oil
- Calming pillow spray
- Infused salt
- Revitalising bath salts
- Exfoliating lip scrub
ALTERNATIVE FESTIVE MIX TAPE
As always, something a little different to Michael Buble.
You can see playlists 1 & 2 here, playlist 3 here, and playlist 4 below:
SPONSORED POST DISCLAIMER: this post contains paid features from some brands, and some affiliate links. I already had relationships with the brands featured and believed in what they were doing. I would never recommend something I don’t believe in, all editorial decisions my own.