Christmas is an incredibly wasteful time of year, there is an astonishing amount of rubbish going into landfills due to the festive activities.

Studies have found that 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is thrown away in the UK at Christmas, none of which goes into recycling, this is more than the weight of 3.3 million emperor penguins.  The cardboard waste isn’t much better, the UK uses 300,00 tonnes of card packaging at this time of year, equivalent to the weight of 2 million Reindeer.

If you’re hoping to reduce the amount of waste you produce by gifting sustainably this year, here is the complete guide on how to do so.

Why gift sustainably

Whether you’re buying for an eco-warrior, you’re watching your environmental footprint, or you just want to make a difference this Christmas, gifting sustainably is the way to go. By gifting sustainably you are:

  • Supporting small businesses – By shopping small businesses you know your money goes to an ethical company, and often right back into your local economy. Put a smile on both of your faces by buying gifts from small businesses.
  • Protecting the environment – Sustainably produced products and gifts have fewer impacts on the environment as compared to a big corporation. Gifting sustainably enables fewer chemicals, less consumption of fossil fuels, and production with sustainably sourced materials.
  • Protecting workers – If you shop sustainably you are often protecting the working conditions of the staff. These businesses provide higher wages, safer working environments, and a much better work-life balance than big business.
  • It’s better for the planet – Simple as. Shopping at big box stores leaves behind a huge environmental footprint, from the landfill impact, power and water consumption, to pesticides and chemicals used making their way into our water supply. By shopping sustainably you are saying no to these practices, and in turn, reducing your environmental impact.

How to Gift Sustainably

Once you have decided to buy an eco gift you may be slightly overwhelmed on where to start, or what you can even buy. Here are a few different ways you can gift sustainably this Christmas.

Services instead of goods

A gift of service requires very little or no use of natural resources, plastic packaging, and extra waste. These highly personal gifts are a great way to share your time, energy or expertise, and they are as, or more, “gift-worthy” than something you can wrap up in a box.

These gifts of service are also an incredible present for older people as they often have all the material things they need, as well as a great gift for the person who has everything.

A couple would love a massage together, a budding musician could benefit from a music lesson, a busy parent would snap up the gift of a few hours of childcare or a tutoring session, and many homeowners may benefit from the promise of lawn care, window-washing, gardening, or some cooking.

“Used” gifts

Studies have found that unwanted gifts are rife this time of year, with 50% of us receiving an unwanted gift. 22.5% of Brits regift, 21.8% donate them, and 6% of us are throwing away the gift entirely!

Pre-loved or “used” gifts were once looked upon in a bad light, making the gift-giver feel cheap, but this is one of the most sustainable options, with no energy or resources used to produce this. As outlined above, many people receive unwanted gifts making this a perfect opportunity to pass it on to someone who will make more use of it.

There is a long list of gifts you can buy second hand, from vintage clothing, bags, and books, to refurbished electronics and musical instruments.

Shopping sustainable sellers

If you have a gift in mind already, or you know the receiver will prefer something brand new, why not consider purchasing from sustainable sellers? These businesses have decided to create their products with ethical intentions in mind, sourcing, manufacturing, and producing an eco gift with a good background.

Shopping with sustainable businesses also allows you to buy a unique gift for that special someone in your life, these business owners can often create bespoke pieces just for you, guaranteeing no one else will have bought the same product.

Sustainable Gift Ideas

Gifts for Men

Low Waste Fashion

Reduce the waste of cheap, low-quality fashion and treat the men in your life to a stylish yet sustainably sourced watch, long-lasting shoes, or smart clothing.

Eco-Friendly Leathers and Alternatives

Every man needs a high-quality wallet or belt in his wardrobe, the gift of an eco or recycled leather wallet is a perfect choice.  Or maybe even go with vegan alternatives to leather.

Plastic Free Grooming Sets

Discover the world of sustainable grooming with an eco-friendly, low waste, cruelty-free grooming set, ideal for the busy men in your life who need a bit of pampering. Or reduce the waste of disposable plastic razors and say goodbye to poor shaving quality with an eco shaving kit.

Gifts for Women

Plastic-Free Beauty

We all love to receive a great beauty gift set, but these plastic packaged presents are often a big cause of waste, instead buy a plastic-free gift set. Choose from a wide range of eco makeup or natural and organic skincare products for the beauty-conscious women in your life.

Sustainable Jewellery

Jewellery is the perfect gift for any woman, it shows that you put a lot of thought and effort into picking a beautiful piece. This year, choose a sustainable or handmade jewellery brand for a great eco Christmas gift.

Ethical Handbags or Luggage

A high-quality handbag that is made to last is an incredible gift, by choosing a sustainable leather or ethically made bag you will be giving a gift that’ll last a lifetime.

Gifts for Children

Nature Kits

An incredible gift for mini explorers, a nature kit is a mini den or activity set, built for the little ones to encourage them to get outside.

Arts and Crafts

There isn’t a child on earth who doesn’t enjoy getting messy, fill their little hearts with joy by getting them some arts and crafts supplies. Wax crayons, plantable pencils, and recycled paper can all make a fun arts and crafts kit.

Wooden Toys

These long-lasting, traditional toys are great for children and parents alike. The children can have hours of fun, without any worry of plastics and chemicals, and the parents will be able to keep these high-quality products for future generations to come.

Gifts for Everyone

Eco Coffee Cups

A thoughtful but simple gift, a great choice for the secret Santa swap, buying a sustainable and reusable coffee cup will make a dent in the 16 billion disposable coffee cups used each year.

Plant Growing Kit

A fun little project and a great way to educate people on sustainability issues. An ethically produced plant growing kit is a beautiful gift that will benefit both the planet and the people.

Sustainable Candles

Many candles are made with paraffin wax, a by-product of the oil industry that pollutes the air when burnt, a natural wax candle is a much more earth-friendly choice.

Download the GoEthical App for a more ethical future

Shop from GoEthical this festive season, whether you have a specific product in mind, or you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas. Buy and sell sustainable, artisan, ethical, pre-loved and eco-friendly products at GoEthical. 

Chat and connect with like-minded community members, and discover detailed listings for ethical and eco products from small sellers to well-known global brands for the personal touch this Christmas. 

Download the GoEthical app to start supporting small businesses:

For queries please either email us on

or call us on 020 8337 2175, we look welcome all to our community and forward to hearing from you.

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