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Ethical Shopping

20 online shops for sustainable Christmas present ideas

There’s no need to resort to single-use plastic this Christmas – there are plenty of eco-friendly gifts out there for you to choose from.

For the environmentally-conscious shopper, buying Christmas gifts can prove a tricky business. 

While most of us want to give presents to those we love, choosing eco-friendly gifts without a hefty carbon footprint is a minefield of single-use plastic, environmentally-damaging business practices and poorly-made items that break quickly after purchase.

What’s more, evidence shows that the excessive consumerism practiced at Christmas is taking its toll on the planet, with a study by waste management company Biffa estimating waste increases 30 per cent in the UK every festive season. 

Shopping is a key contributor to individual carbon footprints, but with some businesses cynically “greenwashing” by using the language of environmentalism to mask unethical practices, it can be hard knowing whether the outlet you’re shopping at is truly responsible. 

Other businesses produce their products through unethical means, involving poorly-paid factory workers in their supply chain while purporting to be “ethical”. 

Shopping in person is a great way to support the high street, but this does make it more difficult to know where your purchases have come from, and how they were made. 

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Luckily, increasing commercial awareness of the climate crisis means that retailers are beginning to adapt, with an array of options available to shoppers looking for eco-friendly, ethically-sourced gifts. 

Our regularly-updated list of 20 e-retailers selling eco-friendly, ethical gifts below offers options for birthdays, Christmases and other celebrations which won’t leave you feeling guilty. 

Some of the stores listed help the environment, while others channel money into good causes, helping those in poverty or making the world a better place. 

Read on for places you can find the perfect present and do good with your money.

Socially responsible and eco-friendly gifts

The Big Issue Shop 

The Big Issue isn’t just an award-winning magazine sold by people who are homeless and vulnerable – it also has a shop, in which every item listed is made by a company with a positive impact on society, whether that’s a charity, social enterprise or a firm that reuses and recycles materials to help the planet. 

All the products use sustainable sourcing methods, while some also set out to make a social statement. In the words of Big Issue founder John Bird: “What we sell helps”.

Here’s a run-down of some of the most exciting items on sale at the moment. 

Slanj homeless tartan products: Slanj is a company founded by Brian Halley to address the issue of homelessness. 

Halley designed a special “homeless” tartan which is printed on everything from ties to face masks and cushions, offering a portion of profits to community organisations involved in tackling homelesness.

Amala Chai: You might have tried a chai latte in your local coffee shop, but Amala Chai is betting you haven’t experienced real chai, which pays homage to the ingredients from India while supporting those who produce them.

Run by friends Akhil & Archie, Amala Chai sells authentic chai tea mixes, with tea and spices directly sourced from family-run farms in Assam & Kerala.

Their spice suppliers’ commitment to supporting local farmers have led Amala Chai to donate 5% of all sales from their masala chai kits to help their mission. These funds will support grassroot initiatives for rural farming communities in Kerala.

Ecoffee Cup is a “new generation” of reusable takeaway cups, created with the world’s fastest growing and most sustainable crop: bamboo fibre. 

The material is naturally sterile and won’t flavour-taint your drinks and the cup has a re-sealable no-drip lid, making it perfect to take with you everywhere you go. You’ll be able to get your morning fix with piece of mind it is not hurting the planet. 

The#WEARABIGISSUE brand is art apparel that makes more than just a fashion statement. A collection of artists in collaboration with +rehabstudio have come on board to create the work, which raises awareness of the plastic waste in the world’s oceans. 

And for the finale of our Big Issue shop round up,Goldfinger is a social enterprise that creates furniture and objects from reclaimed and sustainable materials to help benefit both people and the planet.

Their team of skilled artisans and trainees have delivered projects to clients such as John Lewis, Gail’s Bakery, Tom Dixon, Whistles, Leon and Inhabit Hotels. Even better, all Goldfinger profits support its social impact.

The Green Turtle

It’s not just The Big Issue which is attempting to make a difference when it comes to sustainable shopping. In a busy world where we all have a million and one things to do, it can be hard to avoid plastic. But fear not, The Green Turtle is all about eco choices. Lorna, who runs the eco-friendly online shop, wants to help you conquer the journey to zero waste and sustainable living. 

Best selling products include everyday goods, such as sandwich wrappers, soap bars, bamboo dishcloths and natural deodorant. There are also a range of gift sets, from the “eco-love” set to natural love heart bath loofah

Huski Home 

Huski Home, a family-run company based in London, creates eco-friendly coffee husk travel cups and other reusable products.

“We believe that everyone has the power to create a brighter future and through small changes in our everyday lives, we can see a renewable world in our lifetime,” Founders Lisa and Luke say on their website. The couple has also been fighting food poverty by donating food items to the Bexley Food Bank.  

The Big Issue Shop

The Big Issue is turning 30!

Shop our specially designed t-shirt collection and more at bigissueshop.com

Re-wrapped 

Once you’ve bought the perfect gift, the next stage is to make it look pretty and pass it on to someone special. That’s where Re-wrapped come in. 

The London based company specialises in ethical wrapping paper, cards and notebooks. Founded in 2011, it uses 100 per cent recycled unbleached paper and cards and only uses environmentally friendly vegetable-based inks, this means all of their products can be recycled. They also support the non-profit sector and 5 per cent of all their profits go to charity.

Their most popular time of year, unsurprisingly, is Christmas, but they have a range of products for Birthdays or any other special occasion. 

Wearth 

Wearth, based in London, works with brands to try and make it easier for customers to “shop and live more consciously”. 

Launched in 2017, the company has partnered with more than 250 independent UK brands and has a large range of eco-friendly and ethical products. 

As well as many bundles available to help with eco-living, there is a massive gift section, ranging from organic sleep gift sets, self-care bundles and the flagship Wreath Gift Box which features a collection of the store’s most popular eco-friendly gifts.

Environmental and ethical food and drink

The Eco Coffee Company 

Have you ever considered how environmentally friendly your caffeine-hit is? The Eco Coffee Company has become a hit for their “honest, responsible and delicious” brew. 

The firm prides itself on supplying coffee from ethical and sustainable sources. It employs a “robust” environmental policy offering a large selection of products from plastic-free tea bags to reusable mugs – all great eco-friendly gifts for the coffee lover in your life. 

Toast Ale Companion Series Beer

Beer fans will want to move quickly on this one – Toast Ale are coordinating production of a limited-edition collection of 26 beers that use surplus bread that would otherwise have gone to waste. 

Toast Ale, who coordinated the series, has supplied pre-prepared surplus crumb and shared expertise with the fellow breweries – including Guinness and Adnams – to enable the creation of their new beers.

There’ll be just 2,600 boxes available for purchase, with £26 from each sale invested in conservation and regenerative agriculture projects. 

Boxes of the beers will be available for purchase on Friday, October 15 for £89.95 on Toast’s website.

TheVeganKind 

Experts agree that we need to eat less meat if we’re to hit our climate targets thanks to the considerable carbon emissions created by meat production. 

TheVeganKind supermarket is one business trying to push people in the right direction. A small family-friendly business that wants to “inspire the world to be kind and go vegan”, they describe themselves as a 100 per cent “vegan online shopping heaven” and stock over 5,000 vegan and cruelty-free products. 

Ethical and environmental everyday items 

Who Gives A Crap 

Who Gives A Crap believes everybody deserves “some seriously soft toilet paper”. 

Founded in Australia in 2012 and with offices in the UK, and the USA, the company uses loo roll to make a difference. There are 2 billion people around the world who don’t have access to a toilet. Now, Who Gives A Crap donate 50 per cent of their profits to building toilets and improving sanitation in the poorer countries around the world.

The business also has fun while doing it, and admit there are a lot of jokes to be made when flogging toilet paper. They say their paper is perfect for anybody with a “nice bum”. You can even have it delivered to your door but bosses are careful to make clear they mean your front door because having it delivered to your bathroom “would be creepy”. 

Lush 

Okay, so you might have heard of Lush before, but with its amazing-smelling homemade cosmetics and bath bombs, we couldn’t leave it off the list.

All Lush’s products are eco-friendly and cruelty-free, and can be purchased at high street stores up and down the country. 

Best Sellers include ‘sleepy’ body lotion, ‘ultrabland’ facial cleanser and the company’s famous ‘dream cream’.

Last Object 

LastObject is calling on fellow “waste warriors” to help them stamp out single-use goods and move toward products made to last. The company’s mission is to create objects that replace single-use items and can be reused hundreds or even thousands of times. 

Based in Copenhagen, they are famed for creating the LastSwab, the world’s first reusable cotton swab, which comes in two different models for different applications, whether general use or beauty. 

Wild & Stone 

Single-use plastic can be hard to avoid – a problem that Wild & Stone are hoping to change. Their array of plastic-free products aim to make it easy to switch to useable, stylish alternatives.

Kat, the owner of the company, said she set up the business as she wanted to help others start living a plastic-free life. 

Products available include household items to organic and reusable food wraps to bamboo picnic cutlery sets. Wild & Stone also has a growing collection of personal care items, including bamboo toothbrushes and cotton buds. 

EcoVibe 

EcoVibe started out as friends working together trying to do their bit for the environment. Today, they sell hundreds of products, from compostable sponges and biodegradable bin liners to coconut fibre scourers. The company says small steps can have a “huge” impact and want to consign single-use plastic to history. 

Boobalou 

Chocolates, flowers and jewelry are always nice, but some couples like to give more useful presents, so this one’s probably for the most practical of gift-givers.

Boobalou is all about eco-living. They want to reduce the amount of waste we create by providing everyday household goods that are reusable and biodegradable. Products to help you create a more eco-home such as organic cotton bath towels, reusable food wrap and recycled stationery.

Wave

Our phones have become our everything, our conduit for socialising, banking, working, dating, you name it. If somebody you love is addicted to their phone then you can be safe in the knowledge they aren’t the only one. 

But what is their case made out of? Is it eco-friendly? It could be with the help of Wave

Created by three friends in the North East trying to spark change, the company has developed the Wave Case. Made from wheat straw, it was designed to be stylish yet biodegradable. “If you are going to protect your phone, make sure you protect our planet too,” they say.

Ethical cosmetics and hygiene products

My Little Eco Shop 

Unfortunately, many of our favourite bathing and showering products are unsustainable and packaged in plastic. One brand trying to change this is My Little Eco shop

Based in Devon, its mission is to cut down on plastic usage and make people more aware of their ecological impact on the earth. 

Items currently on sale include soaps and melts, hair care bars, and other products to make skincare routines zero waste. As far as eco-friendly gifts go, that sounds good to us. 

Fair Squared

FAIR SQUARED sells “refreshingly sustainable” natural cosmetics such as hair and facial care argan, skincare oil, and hair cleansing soap. They do all this under one guiding principle: fairness. 

“Fair trading conditions, environmental responsibility, and a strict “no” to child labour and animal testing – fairness for us is something which should be connected to all areas,” the company’s website says. 

Jungle Culture 

Jungle Culture works with artisans and makers from across the globe to source its products responsibly, helping to build relationships with local communities and also help save the planet. 

Their Bamboo Safety Razors are unisex, sustainable and even come with a user guide for beginners. “At Jungle Culture we have a unique view on product sourcing. We have created an ethical supply chain, powered by small farms, craft workshops and transparent factories,” they say.

Georganics 

Georganics is a business helping people switch from the synthetic ingredients used in most normal toothpaste to ones that are more sustainable.

After struggling to find eco alternatives to conventional toothpaste, founder Alex decided to create his own oral care products, with items now on sale including mineral toothpaste, toothpaste tablets and dental floss. 

The company also wants to help those protect the environment while scrubbing. They sell Beechwood toothbrushes which come in compostable packaging and don’t contribute to landfill. 

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