Discover present-perfect products that are kinder to the planet
If you’re stuck for presents this holiday season, browse some of our favourite green gifts that we’ve spotted this year.
It’s that time of year again. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, the next month or so is full of rich celebrations, involving delicious food, reunions with family and friends, and – one of the most central parts of this season – gifts.
As much as the holiday period offers a lot of fun, it’s also the most wasteful time of year. For example, it’s estimated that at Christmas each year, every person in the UK receives two unwanted presents – and virtually one in every five of these gifts gets thrown into landfill. This equates to almost 23 million presents every year. As well as representing a huge waste of money, it’s also detrimental to the environment.
Our culture of over-production and over-consumption, which reaches its peak this time of year, is using up natural resources far quicker than they can be replenished while generating massive volumes of greenhouse gas emissions. And with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales looming, it’s easier than ever to fall into the trap of ‘buy, buy, buy’ and be swayed by all of the enticing ‘one day only’ discounts – even for items that we don’t need or even want.
Certainly, it’s easy to over-buy during the holidays. But being sustainable and climate-conscious doesn’t necessarily mean you have to opt out of the gift-giving festivities altogether – it just means shopping more responsibly. For instance, there are thousands of brands that are a part of positive-impact networks like B Corporation or 1% for the Planet, which have all proven their commitment to both people and planet. Choosing items from these kinds of companies, with verifiable track records of sustainable and ethical manufacturing, can help to make sure any presents you buy this holiday season are as good for the planet as they are for your friends and family.
Don’t know what to get for your brother or best friend? Struggling to pick a present for your work’s Secret Santa? Take a look at the Springwise Stocking – our top 10 gift ideas – for some festive (and eco-friendly) inspiration.
Chocolate might be a delicious treat, but its impact on the planet is far less appealing – and it all starts with the cocoa bean. To combat the deforestation associated with chocolate production, the great-great-great-grandson of John Cadbury (creator of Cadbury chocolate) developed a climate-friendly alternative in Love Cocoa. A fellow B-Corp and 1% for the Planet member, Love Cocoa is committed to making its products both socially and environmentally sustainable and plants a tree for every item sold – whether that’s an advent calendar, a box of vegan truffles, or a luxury chocolate bar. Read more
The WWF estimates that between 500,000 and 1 million tonnes of fishing gear is either lost or deliberately discarded in the ocean every year, making up around 10 per cent of marine plastic pollution. UK startup Tangle is putting this abandoned equipment, known as ‘ghost’ fishing gear, to good use – by turning it into premium dog accessories. Tangle encourages fishermen to donate their old nets instead of dumping them, and this equipment is taken to Tangle’s recycling facility. The raw materials are then used to create strong and durable dog leads, bowls, and throw toys. Read more
The negative environmental impacts of mining are well-established. As well as generating substantial greenhouse gas emissions, the mining process is also responsible for biodiversity loss, water contamination, and air pollution. If you want to find some beautiful jewellery pieces without the significant environmental footprint associated with common mining practices, look no further than Canadian brand Mejuri. Earlier this year, the jewellery company announced a partnership with startup Regeneration, which retrieves materials from the waste rock of old mining sites and restores any damaged ecosystems. As well as using these regeneratively mined minerals, Mejuri also prides itself on incorporating recycled metals into its products, and supports various inclusion-focused charity initiatives. Read more
We don’t tend to think of footwear as contributing to carbon emissions and global waste, yet the sheer number of shoes made each year takes a huge amount of resources. One company working to address this problem is Thaely, a brand that makes trainers entirely from recycled waste and natural materials. Around ten plastic bags and twelve plastic bottles are used to create the fabric and laces of each pair, and the soles of the shoes are crafted from natural or recycled rubber – making them entirely vegan. Read more
Looking for a gift that keeps on giving? A subscription box could be the perfect choice – like Germany-based Ingarden’s home microgreen-growing kit. The company offers a subscription service as well as one-off buying options. Each kit comes with everything needed for assembly: seed pads to grow the greens, and two refills of the customer’s choice. The microgreen crops that are available include radish, arugula, bok choy, kale, garlic, and mustard. Read more
When plastic waste isn’t recycled properly, it ends up polluting our oceans and littering our landscapes, creating a widespread and pervasive problem for the planet. Social enterprise EcoKaari (’Eco Artisan’) has developed a unique solution to this scourge: upcycling waste plastic into handcrafted fabrics. The fabrics are created by women and young people from poor backgrounds – providing them with much-needed employment and upskilling. Available items include everything from laptop sleeves and wallets to yoga bags and tablecloths. Read more
Candles are a staple for this time of year. They’re great for building a cosy atmosphere and are a great go-to option when you’re coming up short for gift ideas. But did you know that over 35 million candles get sent to landfill each year? If you want a greener option, take a look at Siblings. Rather than throwing out your used candle when the wax is all gone, where it will potentially clog up landfills, Siblings encourages consumers to clear out their favourite containers and reuse them. The company offers candle mixture refills made from eco-friendly coconut wax, available in a variety of enticing scents. Customers can either buy a ‘forever vessel’ from the company, or simply use any suitable container they already have at home. Visit the website
Working with local Greek artisans, designer Alexia Mintsouli decided earlier this year to use an ancient sea plant to create luxurious marble tables, which he released as part of the Oceanides collection from his studio Alex Mint. By basing production in Greece, near where the material is collected, the studio greatly reduces transport costs and carbon emissions. Additionally, the collection of the biowaste saves money for local municipalities who would otherwise have to dispose of it. The tables also have the additional benefit of sequestering the carbon absorbed by the plants. The collection consists of three tables – a square coffee table called Oceanus, and two round tables, the Tethys and Calypso. Read more
The textile industry isn’t renowned for its sustainability, but ways to reduce emissions include working with recycled materials and designing products for longevity. Materials science company GroundTruth is doing just that, by making carbon-neutral, vegan, recycled plastic backpacks that have a 10-year performance guarantee. The company’s 38L Hybrid Duffle Pack also incorporates the company’s latest technology – hardware made from captured carbon, and could be a great gift for any outdoorsy relatives who are also climate conscious. Every duffle uses 123 plastic bottles for the exterior fabric, and the interior fabric is made from recycled fishing nets. Read more
Every day across India, millions of people visit Hindu temples and leave puja offerings of fruits and flowers to the gods, and Adiv Pure Nature is giving these offerings a second life. The female-owned company creates organic textiles, many of which are coloured with dyes made from temple flowers. Items like dresses, cushions, napkins, and scarves are available for purchase. Read more
Written By: Matilda Cox
22nd November 2023