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Ethical Shopping

Black Friday 2021: Eco-friendly and ethical gifts for a sustainable shopping spree

Getting involved with Black Friday doesn’t mean giving up on your principles. Here’s how to shop in a sustainable way this year.

Every year, Black Friday is widely criticised by those who say the holiday encourages excessive consumerism for goods which are rarely ethically sourced or environmentally sustainable

For those uninitiated, Black Friday is a day when physical and online shops offer cut-price deals on all kinds of items, from tech to homeware and clothing.

Falling close to Christmas, the day usually proves hugely popular with consumers looking for cheaper gifts for their loved ones. 

But here’s the catch: many of these deals are peddled by retail giants and fast fashion brands with poor track records on workers’ rights and environmental sustainability.

According to 2020 research by money.co.uk, home deliveries for Black Friday last year generated 429,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of 435 return flights from London to New York.

For the ethically and environmentally-conscious, avoiding Black Friday altogether might feel like the only option – but there is a compromise. 

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There are plenty of retailers out there selling products which avoid exploitation of workers and the environment, meaning you can splurge on Black Friday guilt-free.

To help you have a green, ethical Black Friday, we’ve outlined gift ideas spanning clothing, jewellery, sweet treats and more to help you to spend with a clean conscience. 

The Plastic in Our Oceans T-shirt is available on The Big Issue Shop.

Clothing 

Plastic in our oceans t-shirt: £30 

At the Big Issue, we work to dismantle poverty by giving those in need a hand up, not a hand out. By buying an exclusively-designed Big Issue t-shirt, your purchase will support the creation of a range of work-based opportunities for disadvantaged people.

This “Plastics in our Oceans” t-shirt is designed by street artist Mau Mau and is printed on “Earth positive” material manufactured entirely by sustainable energy.

Plant Trees Relaxed Fit Tee: £20 

This stylish, minimalistic t-shirt can be worn in several different ways, tied up, tucked in or loose, with the intent that it will minimise the amount of clothes you need in your wardrobe. 

It comes from Rapanui, a company dedicated to sustainable clothing. Their products are made from natural materials using renewable energy, with new products made from materials recovered from old garments. 

Sports leggings in glitch print: £79

These leggings are perfect for any sporty types in your life – suitable for all kinds of activities from running to swimming and surfing. 

They come from Ruby Moon, a company which uses sustainable materials to make its garments then gives all profits to empower female entrepreneurs around the world. 

Jewellery 

Arya earrings: £22 

These attractive geometric earrings would make the perfect Christmas gift, with an iridescent shine that comes from a mother of pearl component.

These earrings are hand-crafted by female artisans in India, employed by Daughters of the Ganges, which provides them with secure jobs at a decent wage. 

Geo Interlocking Stacking Bands: £35

These gorgeous minimalist rings are perfect for stacking with other jewellery and have been crafted using recycled silver. 

They’re designed by Atypical Thing, a jewellery company based in Birmingham which creates items from recycled materials and uses 100 per cent recyclable packaging. 

Innovation trinity pendant: £35

This gorgeous gold necklace is made of brass hoops connected by a copper rivet and a gold-plated chain.

The item is made by a person experiencing homelessness as part of Pivot, a social enterprise working to eradicate homelessness. Your necklace will come in a hand-finished box with the name of the maker inside. 

Artwork 

The limited edition wrapping paper is a great way to get a signed print from top artists.

Runes by Terence Wild, print: £75

With this limited-edition print, you can give someone the gift of something beautiful to adorn their wall with while doing good. 

The print comes from Creative Future, which supports artists facing personal challenges who wouldn’t otherwise have their work seen and sold.

Frea Buckler signed wrapping paper: £49.99

Want to wow with your Christmas present wrapping this year – or give someone else the chance to? This limited edition wrapping paper from artist Frea Buckler will do the job.

Every purchase will funnel profits back into The Big Issue’s work on eradicating poverty through supporting the most vulnerable in society.

Food 

Hug in a box (gift box): £28 

Show your friends and family that you’re thinking of them this festive season with the Big Issue’s best-selling Hug in a Box, filled with treats sure to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Each one of the treats inside has a story behind them and a story of people coming together to give back to social and environmental causes that matter.

Profits go to Social Stories Club, which supports a number of social enterprises.

Bee’s Wrap, assorted Set of 3 Wraps: £15

Perfect as a stocking-filler, this set of “bee’s wrap” covers are a sustainable alternative to cling film or tin foil for wrapping up food.

The wraps are made from organic cotton muslin, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin.

Nemi peppermint tea 15 teabags: £4.50

This peppermint tea is a carefully-assembled blend of European, Egyptian and American peppermint designed to give a blast of refreshing minty coolness.

It comes from NEMI teas, a London-based company which employs refugees who would otherwise struggle to find work.

Homeware

Forbidden fruit cushion: £48

The perfect addition to any home, these “forbidden fruit” cushions embrace maximalism and pop with colour. 

It comes from Designs in Mind, a studio where adults living with mental health challenges work together on ambitious, experimental art and design projects.

Biodegradable drinking straws: £4.99 

Avoid plastic waste with these 100 per cent biodegradable straws, made of natural bullrush stems, meaning they are fully renewable and sustainable. 

They’re made by Huski Home, a family-run company which makes eco-friendly, reusable homewares from natural waste.

Hanging glass lantern: £15.95 

Handmade in India, this Moroccan style hanging lantern is made of gorgeous patterned stained glass and can be hung indoors or outdoors.

The supplier is recognized by BAFTS, the British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers as a fair trade importer, where human rights are top of the agenda.

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Support your local vendor

Want to buy a copy of the magazine? We have over 1,200 Big Issue vendors in the UK. Each vendor buys a copy of the mag for £1.50 and sells it for £3, keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor and support them today!

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