It’s been a big year for the conversation around plastic, and it’s encouraging to see more people than ever before committing to lowering their waste, however that may work for them.
With this in mind, I decided this year to compile a few different gift guides depending on the priorities and interests that your loved ones may have started exploring this year. So here is the first: ideas for zero waste and plastic free gifts this Christmas.
The idea for WAKEcup began as a response to the billions of single-use coffee cups that end up in landfill around the globe. Their low waste reusable alternatives are created from sustainably sourced materials such as ethically farmed organic bamboo, stainless steel and double-walled glass.
Their zero waste starter kit is the perfect gift for anyone who’s interested in reducing waste but doesn’t know where to begin. It includes a range of on the go essentials to begin a low waste journey: a reusable water bottle, reusable coffee cup, reusable straws and a vegan backpack (made from paper!) to carry it all in. Not only do they help your loved ones dramatically cut their waste, but they look good too.
Plus, 10% of WAKEcup’s profits go directly to their charity partners The Marine Conservation Society.
If you’re a person that has periods, menstrual cups can be a gamechanger. They save money, time, and the planet by preventing millions of period products from ending up in landfill. And, once you get the hang of them, they’re also incredibly convenient too. It can, however, sometimes be a little nerve-wracking to take the leap or even know how to get started.
Organicup is my favourite option for those who are new to the cup. As well as being a brilliant menstrual cup it comes in plastic-free packaging, and everything is designed with a beautiful minimal aesthetic that still makes it a lovely gift to open too. If you want you can also include OrganiWash, which can be used to clean the cup and may help those who are more nervous to get started. Plus, check out my guide to menstrual cups for newcomers here, to help your loved ones out as they begin this new journey.
SHOP HERE – use the code unicorn20 to get 20% off at checkout
Founded in 2016 by Tytti Sofia Hongisto, Mahla Clothing is a conscious, slow and sustainable fashion brand based in Copenhagen. They also have an incredible eye for upcycling. While nearly 60% of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of production, Mahla works to turn this tide by creating many of its pieces from pre-consumer waste (material left over from production such as deadstock fabrics) and post-consumer waste (materials that has been purchased, worn and then discarded by a consumer) sourced from across Northern Europe.
Mahla produces limited runs and bespoke garments based on demand, all of which are manufactured in their Danish studio or a small ethical sewing atelier in Tallinn. My personal favourite of theirs is this bumbag, made from velvet sourced from old theatre curtains!
Reverse Christmas Cards
This year the Stop Ecocide team have created an eco-twist on seasonal giving. Instead of giving cards, you can use these reverse cards to ask friends and family to sign up as an Earth Protector instead of buying you a present.
These cards are made with 100% recycled paper using vegetable inks, designed to encourage people to buy less this Christmas and focus on what matters most.
Agnes LDN originally started as a project to use up leftover fabrics from founder Sophie’s fashion degree. She decided to make vegetable bags to encourage people to choose loose fruit and vegetables instead of packaged, and continued to expand into other products alongside her own low waste journey. Agnes LDN now sells a range of grocery bags, bento bags, cutlery pouches, furoshiki wraps, napkins and more. All pieces are handmade by Sophie or her boyfriend from fabrics such as organic cotton, and each piece features beautiful designs and a commitment to craftsmanship.
Tea & coffee
There are a few options you can explore here.
For tea, The Singing Leaf sell a variety of loose leaf organic teas that use locally grown and foraged herbs, handcrafted in small batches in the UK. While they have multiple blends, my personal pick is the loose leaf tea gift set.
For coffee, the GDS 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 (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.
Alternatively, you can also look into a French Press, which doesn’t need a filter at all. Combine with direct trade beans for a winning ethical combo.
Rio Nuevo Chocolate
Rio Nuevo chocolate is direct trade, single estate, bean-to-bar chocolate that is also vegan, palm oil free, and handmade in small batches in Cornwall. But, it also has no plastic packaging, each bar is wrapped in paper and cardboard only. I gave the brandy chocolate as a gift last year and it was very well loved.
Toiletries & cosmetics
If your loved ones have refill options near them, help them out with these refillable shampoo and conditioner bottles. There’s even a travel set, to help those on the go. Or if they’re ready to try solid options, Acala have a range of shampoo bars and dry shampoo options here.
Cacao Pow’s aluminium free deodorant bar is made in the UK in small batches from organic cacao, comes in a glass jar, and is said to last up to 6 months (although mine lasted 12!). It’s unisex, cruelty free, vegan and smells delightful. Plus it’s perfectly stocking sized.
If you’d prefer a different choice, Acala also have a range of plastic-free deodorants here.
Who Gives A Crap
Who Gives A Crap provide brilliant low waste toilet paper made from recycled paper or bamboo, and without any bleaches or toxic dyes. They also come delivered in bulk plastic-free packaging, and they look great! Their limited Gift Edition in collaboration with artist Karan Singh has just become available, helping you to give your friends’ bums a gift this year with some sweet toilet paper and beautiful designs.
Plus, 50% of profits go to hygiene and sanitation projects around the world.
Tabitha Eve founder Debbie originally began creating products to replace her disposable kitchen ware, and soon others were asking for some in order to help them do their bit too. And so Tabitha Eve was born, creating plastic-free alternative products from ethically sourced fabrics. Their studio opened in March 2018 and Debbie works with a range of talented sewists to ensure all your orders are sewn up as quickly as possible. I love their make up remover pads and sponges.
Retrospecced are a social enterprise that rehome glasses. In partnership with Vision Aid Overseas, they take the best secondhand vintage and designer frames and sell 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 unwanted glasses cases as cases for your new frames.
Lara Intimates are a zero-waste underwear brand, creating their pieces from unused surplus luxury lingerie fabrics that would have otherwise gone to landfill. Each piece is created in-house in their all-female studio in central London, and items are made to order to your specific measurements.
Guppyfriend’s wash bag is designed to stop synthetic garments from releasing 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 so you can stop them from entering waterways.
Indoor Compost Bin
For the friend who’s serious about lowering their waste, one of the best places to start is our food footprint. Help them along on the journey with a food scrap collection bin or, if your budget is higher, a full compost bin.
OHROS make hand-poured soy wax candles. Their Christmas combo are cinnamon & orange and figgy pudding scented, but they have a range of other scents too.
Alternatively, try making your own candles here.
Some of my other favourite DIY gifts include:
- homemade nutella
- holiday cookies
- sloe gin
- infused oil
- infused alcohol
- flavoured salt
- mulling syrup.
- homemade bath bombs
This has been a very successful tactic for me in the past. Secondhand books (who doesn’t love a penguin classic?), vintage jewellery, or clothes from local charity shops have often made their way into gifts I’ve given. As well as local charity shops you can look out for Etsy, Oxfam’s online shop, Vestiare Collective, Depop and more.
If you have a local zero waste shop, why not fill some containers with sweets, dried fruit, chocolate, or peanut butter?
For example, Something Good, Newcastle’s zero waste shop, actually has refillable tins that you can fill with handmade cookies or chocolate slabs, which I will definitely be making use of this year!
Food & drink on the go
While I’m a big proponent of using the containers and cutlery we already have, if you know someone who’s looking for something specific, this wheat fibre lunchbox is fun, and also comes with cutlery included.
Alternatively, this wine bottle and tumbler set keeps cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours. Ideal for keeping drinks cold at summer BBQ’s and picnics or keeping your mulled wine warm. Plus, now that Waitrose is slowly implementing refillable wine, this may become a staple!
ALTERNATIVE FESTIVE MIXTAPE
And, as always, please enjoy this year’s festive mixtape, which of course creates no waste at all!
SPONSORED POST DISCLAIMER: this post contains paid features from some brands. I already had relationships with the brands featured and believed in what they were doing. I would never recommend something I don’t love myself, all editorial decisions my own.