giving sustainable gift

The Best Sustainable Christmas Gifts

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The sustainable must-have gifts this season

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Christmas – the season of giving. But since one in 10 Christmas presents ends up in the bin every year, the act of giving can be pretty unsustainable. Well, fear not – Caroline Phillips has done the hard work and found the best sustainable gifts. That means not only will your presents be a guaranteed success – and avoid that bin – they will also be ethical and sustainable themselves. So, have a read through our guide for the best sustainable and must-have Christmas gifts this season…

The C&TH Christmas Gift Guide 2021

The Best Sustainable Christmas Gifts

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Hermes orange dog frisbee


Playtime for pampered pooches

You’ll want to rush out immediately to Green Park or Kensington Gardens with your four-legged friends to throw this. It’s an Hermès frisbee —yes, from the artisan creators who’ve been selling high-quality objects since 1837 —made of eco-friendly brown algae harvested in Brittany. A Wouf Frisbee/Flying Disc, to be precise. It was just launched in the autumn/winter collection, and comes seulement in une couleur: the brand’s famous burnt orange. It’s also achingly aerodynamic, 23cm diameter, and weighs a mere 150 g. Get one for your pooch: it’s what every chic dog in town will want. (Plus it’s made for durability and is almost-puncture resistant.) It’ll also help the kids learn French as it’s embossed with “Hermès sellier”. (“Sellier” means, “saddler”.) And comes inside their delicious trademark box tied with that Bolduc ribbon with horses. Really, it’s the sort of discus that the god Apollo would use to scatter the clouds. Or throw to a dog.


chloe sustainable brown bag


‘It’ bag goes sustainable

The Edith bag ticks the sustainability box on three counts. First off, the design is recycled: this iconic bag was originally launched in 2006. Second, there’s the Edith Collector: vintage, artisanal-inspired bags resurrected with embellishments of leftover and deadstock materials —from leather scallop patchwork and coiling leather rope to jersey knit and tubular fringe applications. Unique and better than any arm candy. But only 50 were made. (Get your sustainable, Chloé scallop-edged, leather sneakers on to hunt one down — they were all snapped up within nanoseconds of going online.) And third, to make your eco-conscious heart really flutter, there’s The Edith Day Bag. This re-edition includes two (different colour) versions in recycled cashmere and takes boho chic to Himalayan heights with its buffalo leather and striped, multi-coloured reclaimed cashmere and funky fringe. That’s real sustainability pazazz, right?

Edith Day Bag £1990 and Edith Collector POA

labo the matcha


Scents with soul

Think scents that are good for the planet. This is the ultra-luxe yet sustainable brand with a conscious ethos. Each Le Labo perfume is hand-blended to order (no wastage there), using natural, responsibly-sourced ingredients. Try the just-launched, Thé Matcha 26 — which balances and harmonises a fig note, grounded by soft vetiver and textural cedar woods, with oomph from bitter orange —a  fleeting fragrance. You may need someone to be very close to you to smell it; but who’s complaining about that? All packaging, including the glass bottle — that holds this luxurious perfume — through to the box and bag, is made from recycled materials that are recyclable after use. Best of all, if you return your bottle once it’s empty, Le Labo will refill it — giving you 20 per cent off the price of your new scent. Buy your Thé Matcha 26 from the hip store with its lab-meets-apothecary vibe. Or give someone a Le Labo eGift Card for online purchases. In a truly sustainable way, the gift cards have no expiration date.

Scent from £4 for 1.5ml to £720 for 500ml and E-gift card from £50

Ethical butcher charcuterie box


Charcuterie Box

The Charcuterie Box is the latest offering from The Ethical Butcher. And it’s only available for the festive season. This company boasts a small family of farmers — with organic farms, Longhorn cattle and Manx sheep through to a permaculture farm producing happy turkeys — who honour natural systems that increase bio-diversity and believe that eating meat shouldn’t cost the earth. The Christmas Charcuterie Box bursts with air-dried bresola through to chorizo and Albion salami. Not to mention Cerrunos ham (a proscuitto-like slow-aged pork leg). Five cuts of pork and beef from regenerative producers offering 100 per cent grass fed, excellent-quality ingredients. And the meats are paired with Rubies in the Rubble chutneys —the chilli onion has a real kick, pear and fig hits the spot —from a certified B-corp business that uses waste (think wrong size, shape and colour) fruit and veg rejected by the food industry. It’s delivered responsibly and there’s even wool insulation to ensure that it arrives in ‘sheep’ shape. What’s not to like?

The Charcuterie Box £58.90

days of the week pants


Putting the ‘oh’ in eco-friendly garments

You’ll want to wear this softer-than-silk gear every night and day, day and night — from cool knickers (with the days of the week embroidered on them or personalised with the initials of your choice) to boxer shorts and stripy PJs. These eco garments grow on trees — or, rather, they’re made from Tencel Modal, an ultra-comfy fabric magicked from wood pulp from renewable sources. And manufactured in carbon-neutral processes. Take out a knicker subscription for a monthly delivery of a new pair. (Only three per cent of the underwear market is sustainably sourced, yet we wear undies daily and, er, who buys them second-hand? So you’ll be helping the planet, one pantie at a time.) Then when you’ve loved your purchases to death, compost them in your garden, letting your favourite jammies fertilise your dahlias. Oh, and they plant a tree with every order.

From £15;

The Lexi xmas membership gift


Limited edition gift sets, bespoke presents and parties

The Lexi is the UK’s only social enterprise cinema — a volunteer-run picture palace. Plus 100 per cent of its profits go to The Sustainability Institute in South Africa, for ecological projects. Now The Lexi has launched limited-edition gift sets —the ultimate plastic-free, sustainable prezzies. Containing an annual membership voucher for discounted tickets, three free screenings and priority booking (for everything from family faves to NT Live and their find-a-friend club, Cinemates), the gift set also boasts festive cinema snacks, (including chocolate Brussel sprouts, natch). And you have to save on your carbon footprint by collecting the gift set at the cinema. Preferably by walking or cycling there. Distance no matter. Alternatively, why not opt for a cool and bespoke, sustainable gift —and get the recycled letters on their Read-o-Graph (signage outside the cinema) customised to ask, ‘Adam, will you marry me?’ or to wish your beloved a ‘Merry Xmas!’? Otherwise just book to party in the cinema — you’ll chomp on kiosk sweets from refillable jars, of course —with your very own private screening. Even this movie-paradise-cum-party venue itself is oh-so-green: it’s in an Edwardian hall retrofitted for sustainability, with solar panels to under-floor insulation; and the adjoining, newly built The Lexi Hub is a cutting-edge, achingly eco community space. Little wonder it’s adored by savvy Londoners.

Gift sets from £45;

prana chai box set


Tea in a coffee-husk cup

You’ll be smitten with Prana Chai’s sustainable coffee-husk cups (made from organic waste from coffee production). Called Huskee cups, they’re ribbed, chunky and perfect (with that snug lid) for drinks on the go. Make up a gift box of a Prana Chai brewing pot (sustainable stainless steel and curvy in all the right places, it’ll transport you to the sidewalks of Delhi in a jiffy) , fine mesh strainer, and 250g of the Original Blend of sticky chai tea coated with Ozzie honey. You’ll soon be begging Father Christmas to fill your stocking with their Vegan Chai (out with the honey, in with the agave syrup) and Turmeric Chai (sooooh anti-inflammatory) too.

The site quotes in euros, but you’ll be paying £39;

Haekels skincare bottles


4-step skincare

Go into their Margate shop on the Kent coast, and you’ll enter a hip place with soul.  You’ll get another wonderful surprise when you sniff Haeckels products: they’re like nothing else. And you’re in for an even better treat when you use them, visibly transforming your skin. Bag the four-step skincare set. That’s Haeckels marine facial cleanser (gently foaming and with bladderwrack and sea buckthorn), earth marine water plus AHA (a natural exfoliant derived from sugar cane), eco marine moisturiser (boasting Dulse seaweed harvested off the coastline, it takes time to rub in properly), and Algae Plump + B3 (with marine-derived molecules, a natural alternative to Hyaluronic Acid). Products come in amber glassware —best for both the contents and our beaches. Haeckels are harnessing the health-giving properties of the sea. And flagging up the fragility of the ocean and necessity for conservation. (If you take a bag of beach rubbish to their shop, with visual proof of its provenance, they’ll give you a free, hand-made seaweed-based product.) How better to shape the future of sustainable skincare?

Skincare set £90;

reyka vodka


Reyka Vodka

The world’s first ‘green vodka’, this Icelandic tipple is made from glacial water — the purest Arctic spring water that’s filtered through 4000-year-old lava rock — and distilled using sustainable energy from geothermal heat. Aficionados praise this small- batch, hand-crafted vodka for being smooth, full, and with soft notes of earthy pepper, lemon and vanilla. Drink it neat, as a margarita, martini or cosmopolitan. After swigging it down, you’ll want to re-use the pretty bottle for your own batches of syrups and the like. Skál (cheers), as they say in Iceland.


Athletia room mist


Switching Aroma Room Mist Green Ray

The new kid on the sustainability block, and a brand recently arrived from Japan, this room mist will make you feel as if you’ve walked into a rare Japanese forest. The scent doesn’t linger long and the spray is slightly sticky when it lands. But the fragrance is uplifting — all that Hinoki cypress, hiba and howood. Think natural ingredients and a 360° sustainable approach. Use it to cover those less appealing smells in your Christmas bathroom.

£39 for 100ml;

Daylesford honey crates


British Honey Hamper

New to that favourite pioneering sustainable farm and organic shop is the honey hamper. It contains Oxfordshire honey (made by bees gathering from meadows, woodlands and wild hedgerows) to creamed honey (you can almost taste the apple orchards). All floral tastes that are the bee’s knees. Plus there’s a honeycomb trio that’s unprocessed and raw. A hive candle, and honey-spiced nuts. And golden honeycomb biscuits in dark chocolate (like Crunchies made in paradise then dipped in choc). It’s packed in a sustainable wooden box that’ll find its way into your garden shed or bathroom. On top of that, they’ve pledged to plant a native broadleaf tree for every hamper sold this Christmas. With produce this good, you’ll be happy (should that be ‘bee’ happy?) to help them plant a forest.


haushcka bottle bath essence


Bath essence

This simply has to be in here because Dr Hauschka, the founder, was the pioneer of natural, organic, sustainable beauty products. And still a star in this firmament. The Lemongrass Bath Essence smells like Heaven after breakfast —think sun-ripened lemons —and is revitalising. The Spruce Warming Bath Essence does what it says on the bottle, and more: warms and de-stresses you whilst transporting you to the remote Norwegian hillside of your mind with its fresh, evergreen scents. This brand works responsibly and natural cycles, biodynamic farming and the power of vital, unpolluted materials are key. Plus Dr Hauschka has been into sustainability since almost before it was a word.

£17 for 100ml;

ELV jeans


Zero waste jeans

A zero-waste denim brand, E.L.V Denim (that’s East London Vintage Denim) garments are all up-up-up-cycled from waste denim. Committed to minimising their impact on the environment — by reducing waste, water and energy consumption — they recycle unwanted jeans that are destined for landfill. Did you know that it takes the same amount of water (10,000 litres) to make a pair of jeans as one person drinks in about 13 years? Whereas at E.L.V Denim they use only about seven litres to wash the denim leftovers. Bag a ‘Mum’ pair with straight legs and boxy fit or ones made of jeans spliced together from different styles with a slimming stripe on the outer edge. (Perfect for post lockdown lardiness.) Or opt for ones that are longer at the back than front, to accentuate that gem on your shoe. Their jeans have a structured feel — great to wear with a heel — and no stretch. Gender neutral (perfect for him, her and everyone in between), locally made and designed for circularity. Whoever thought discarded denim could be this good?

From £200;

gibsons liquor and glass


Oooh-ah fruit-flavoured liqueurs

The Cotswolds land they farm is worked sustainably, using zilch pesticide or synthetic fertiliser. You’ll find the Gibson folk sewing oh-so-pretty wildflower meadows — for insects and birds — and planting native woodland, rather than doing anything intensive. (The only intensive bit they get involved in is all that harvesting, pressing, fermenting, maceration, bottling and labelling.) Then when they make their liqueurs, they solely use fruit and flowers that they’ve grown themselves in the Cotswolds. Buy a gift box of Sloe Gin, Elderflower Liqueur and Blackcurrant Liqueur. Then try a Muddy Cobbler with a splosh the Sloe Gin and trickle of Blackcurrant Liqueur. Think organic, homegrown, handmade, fruity-tasty but not sticky. As chef, restauranteur and Queen of the Great British Bake Off, Dame Prue says, their fruit flavours are ‘astounding.’

Giftpack 5cl minis £16.95;

Yunion t-shirt


Luxury cotton T-shirts

Everyday luxury. Designed, woven and sewn in the UK — slashing their carbon footprint and with no chance of child labour. These are tip-top ethical, stylish and sustainable T-shirts. Open the recycled mailer bags, and inside you’ll find acid-free tissue paper and quality cotton and a little Lycra (2 per cent) T-shirts — they’re moving increasingly into organic cotton — in recyclable clear bags, and degradable plastic ones. Bag a crew neck, V- neck or boat neck — classic designs that last sustainable-season after sustainable-season…thereby long avoiding the world’s Ginormous T-Shirt Landfill. The tees are opaque — sport a coloured bra under white if you want, and you don’t even have to don a special T-shirt bra — but aren’t bulky. Wear the boat neck with its dipped-back hem and lovely long arms as a ‘smart’ tee —then wash on 30 degrees (more environmentally friendly than 40) and dry flat or on the line, and it’ll last over three years. Now that’s what you call sustainable. Basics that are the heroes of your wardrobe, rather than the villains.

From £45;

mini lipstick

M.A.C cosmetics

Hypnotizing Holiday Lipstick Vault

This is the brand for ‘All Ages, All Races, All Sexes’ — diversity being the only really sustainable way forward. Buy the new M.A.C limited-edition lip kit of 12 best-selling lipstick shades in mini sizes. (With that many ‘lippies’, you could go for a new look every month of 2022 — with shades of Mocha to Taupe and Diva and in satin to matte and crème sheen). The lipsticks’ lasting colour intensity — think real l-o—n-g——e-v-ity —make them more sustainable than most. Plus, the outer packaging is recyclable. And then there’s the ‘Back to M.A.C’ scheme, which gives you a free lipstick of your choice for every six empty M.A.C product containers you return to store for recycling. (If you recycle your 12 red-peach-and-burgundy-etc-bullet tubes, you’re really getting 14 lipsticks from your Vault). Incidentally, globally, M.A.C sells one lipstick every second, and one eye shadow every three secs. Hmm. That’s a lot of recycling.

RRP £75;

Featured Image: Anna Ostanina, Getty Images

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