As lockdown goes on, and more events like birthdays take place from afar, I put together a list of gifts you can send from afar. Whether it’s for a socially distant special occasion, or just to make someone smile, here are some things you can send to bring joy, while also staying sustainable.
Support prisoners with Redemption Roasters
Redemption Roasters are the world’s first prison-based coffee company. Prisoners are 50% more likely to re-offend if they leave prison without skills and a job, and only 17% of ex-offenders manage to get a job within a year of release. Recognising the need for change, Redemption runs training academies across a growing number of prisons, focusing on speciality coffee skills as well as the soft skills needed for work and daily life. They also operate an entire roastery inside the walls of HMP the Mount, and run a community training lab that allows them to deliver training for people who are in custody. Prisoners are paid for their work in the roastery and, after release, Redemption helps their graduates find work. Redemption itself is the largest employer of recent graduates in their coffee shops, but they can also help graduates by setting them up with interviews with their employment partners too.
But there’s also more to come in 2021! Redemption are about to launch a technician training scheme within prisons: a first-of-its-kind scheme that will teach coffee machine maintenance, offering another path to employment. Plus, the Government’s Kickstart scheme has granted Redemption funding to provide 6 months of paid employment to 20 young people (aged 16-24) who are on Universal Credit. In partnership with the Forward Trust they’ll select candidates for accelerated barista training, which will lead directly into jobs at Redemption stores.
Redemption launch new seasonal coffees every month. They’re sourced from across the globe, with direct partnerships from a variety of direct trade, smallholder farms, collectives and female-only growers. From their roastery at HMP the Mount, you can select from whole beans, ground or pods to suit your preferences, as well as sign up to subscriptions that make it even easier.
Digitally donate to a food bank
While food banks may be under more strain right now, it’s also easier than ever to donate from the comfort of your own home using Bankuet. For every friend who might not want a physical gift for themselves, why not donate to help people in their area instead?
To donate simply choose a food bank, then choose a specific item or bundle. On their find a food bank page you can enter your postcode to find the closest food bank to you, and bundle prices range from £10 – £100. From here, Bankuet take care of everything else. They buy and deliver items specifically requested by the food banks, at the time that is best for the food bank, saving everyone time and money.
Every week, Petalon design two bouquets using seasonal flowers, available for delivery across mainland Britain. Their offering is ever-changing, while keeping waste low. Order before midday for next day delivery, 7 days a week, for £42 all in. 5% of profit from deliveries goes towards bee conservation, and Petalon plant a tree for every 100 bouquets sent by carbon-neutral courier. Plus, all of their packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable.
Lighthouse books is an independent community bookshop for the socially conscious, championing marginalised voices and celebrating diversity. They’re still offering online orders across most genres, but you can also email them directly to request an order from them. No need for Amazon at all.
The Big Issue subscription
For nearly 30 years The Big Issue has helped those facing homelessness set up small businesses selling their magazines. The entire business model is based on sellers working on the streets, which is currently not possible, so they are now offering subscriptions for weekly home delivery. It costs £32.50 for a 3-month subscription (approximately £2.70 per week) and can provide weekly reading material for someone you love, support the network of 2000 Big Issue sellers, and create supported employment opportunities for vulnerable people in the subscription fulfilment team.
Jollie’s are, as always, my favourite socks. While being bright, colourful and comfy as heck (who even remembers shoes at this point), their wear a pair, share a pair principle also means that for every pair sold a pair is donated to a homeless charity in your area. They also recently introduced their sock recycle scheme. All orders now include a pre-paid envelope for you to send old socks to them: those in good condition will be donated to homeless charities, while anything unusable will be recycled into valuable industrial textiles. In return, you’ll receive a promo code for a free pair of socks with your next order.
For those with a sweet tooth, Ocelot Chocolate is a small Edinburgh-based business making artisan chocolate. They source all their organic chocolate ethically from bean-to-bar suppliers, are plastic-free (the inner film on their chocolate is home compostable), and are a certified Living Wage employer. They’re still shipping out chocolate goodness during this time, and each flavour is incredibly rich and unique, plus there are multiple vegan-friendly options.
If drinking chocolate is more up your street, Rio Nuevo is also selling ethical and sustainable single-estate 70% dark drinking chocolate for £10. Also vegan friendly, this drinking chocolate is an absolute dream!
PLUS: if you live in London, Crosstown Doughnuts are still open for delivery for you, or you can donate doughnuts to health workers.
If it’s sustainable skincare you’re after, I wrote a full guide to my top product recommendations here. I tried to include a range of products and price points so hopefully you can find something that’s the perfect match!
Wool & The Gang are a DIY fashion brand selling yarns and knits for everyone from beginners to advanced knitters. For anyone looking to get a bit crafty, or just try out a low-stress hobby to occupy time, their kits can help you learn knitting, macrame, crochet, embroidery and more, while also emphasising the value of craftsmanship and slowing down.
Cafe at home
If you’re in need of beans, you can subscribe to Old Spike, the UK’s first coffee roastery social enterprise. Based in Peckham, Old Spike source, roast and pack direct trade coffee while offering employment to those affected by homelessness. They train and employ homeless people in their cafe, in coffee production, and in delivery, meaning that every bag of coffee you buy contributes to helping the homeless.
If it’s iced coffee you’re missing, Minor Figures is also offering direct trade, vegan-friendly, nitro iced coffee. For each purchase they’re also giving 5% of the total sale value to a coffee shop of your choice to support them during this uncertainty – you just give the name and address when ordering.
For moments of calm
Alice & Peg curate a range of thoughtful, conscious gift boxes containing products from small independent businesses. Each cruelty-free item is handmade in small batches by small sustainable UK makers, and all packaging is biodegradable, reusable or easy to recycle. Plus, £1 from every gift box sold is donated to YoungMinds, one of the UK’s leading charities fighting for children and young people’s mental health.
La Aquarelle create organic sleep masks, eye pillows, and herbal sachets naturally dyed with a variety of plants to help you get better sleep while remaining gentle on the earth. Each product is handmade and dyed slowly, taking up to two days to complete. Choose from organic cotton, organic bamboo or silk for any eye mask, while each sleep sachet is filled with organic French lavender buds.
Lavender bath salts from Bramble & Blossom are cruelty-free, vegan friendly and handmade in England. They combine Dead Seal salts which are responsibly extracted using solar evaporation, organic lavender essential oil, and lavender harvested from Chateau de Gabelle, Provence. Together these ingredients are designed to improve calm and wellbeing, whilst also being kind to the skin.
Some of the only fully regenerative candles in the UK are handcrafted in Alston, Cumbria using beeswax from bees housed on Ted Thompson’s farm. The entire farm is regenerative, based on techniques of permaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, restoration ecology, and holistic management. This means they don’t use artificial chemicals and focus on regenerating topsoil, increasing biodiversity, and improving water cycles.
Hopefully these help the people in your life smile, without feeling like you need to sacrifice on values. Stay safe and happy celebrating!