Compared to buying new, shopping secondhand is an even more sustainable way to treat our loved ones at Christmas, or for birthdays or other special occasions. And it can be gentler on our bank balance too. Yet there is often a stigma around secondhand gifts, that prevents more people from giving secondhand.
When it comes to secondhand gift ideas, there is often a stigma attached. However, there is a huge difference between a bobbly, misshapen jumper, or dog-eared book, compared to a well thought out piece that’s perfect for your recipient. It’s important to remind ourselves that secondhand does not mean second-best. There are a wealth of ideas of secondhand gift ideas for everyone, that would be a delight to receive.
I’ve set out some of my five favourite secondhand gift ideas. I’ve also shared ideas on where to shop for them. In most cases, I’d recommend starting your search online, in order to gather inspiration.
Your search might take you minutes, to a few days or a few weeks. However secondhand websites are usually updated frequently, so the right gift is bound to appear. With both patience and persistence, you’ll find the perfect gift within your budget, that’s meaningful for your loved one.
My Top Five Secondhand Ideas for Sustainable Gift Giving
In order to cover the site’s running costs, some of the links used below are affiliate links. This means I may receive a small percentage of the sale price from the retailer if you buy anything using the links below, but this does not affect the price you pay or your return rights as a consumer.
Secondhand gift ideas that work especially well are gifts that people expect to be old. One of these is vinyl.
Vinyl records are enjoying a revival right now, with, in 2019, vinyl outselling CDs for the first time in forty years. If your loved one is into vinyl, then a vintage record from one of their favourite artists would make a great secondhand gift idea. You may have to ask some prying questions first to discover what gaps they have in their collection, but it’s worth it to avoid buying something they already own.
Once you’ve worked out what record they would love, it’s time to get searching. Online eBay, Oxfam Online, and Discogs are great places to look for secondhand vinyl. Check out my eBay buying tips if shopping there. Locally, you might have a secondhand record shop near you. Alternatively, Oxfam has six dedicated bricks and mortar music shops across Scotland and England that are a joy to browse in.
I always think there is something really special about vintage jewellery. I think it’s the idea that the piece has had a whole life of hidden stories with someone else. For that reason, I think it makes for one of those really great secondhand gift ideas.
Vintage jewellery is another thing that people expect to be old. And the great news is there is a ton of choice out there. From ostentatious costume jewellery, to elegant and refined vintage pieces, you name it, and I guarantee you can find it.
Etsy and eBay are good places to look online, as is Oxfam Online. Charity shops and antique shops are also a delight to browse for vintage jewellery. And if you have a specific piece in mind the shop may be able to call you if something comes in matching your description.
I’ve been buying my kids’ secondhand toys for their Christmas and birthdays since they were little, like in this post. Although that two-year-old is now almost a nine-year-old…!
We look for things that are in good condition. To make it special for the big day, we give the toys a wipe down and wrap them up prettily in a box with a bow on top.
Toys that we have found that work well secondhand include things like Lego and Duplo, as well as wooden toys. We’ve also had success with dolls (less so Barbie dolls, because their hair and costumes don’t always stand up to kids play), bikes, and games. Just check all the pieces are there first.
Charity shops, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree are all great places to look. I’m having the most success with Facebook Marketplace at the moment – prices are reasonable and many sellers are open to negotiating on price.
I’m not a person that buys a lot of clothes. Instead, my Achilles heel is vintage homeware. I cannot walk past a charity shop without having to go in to look at their homeware section. There’s not an antique store I don’t love. Right now the secondhand holy grail for me are these beauties* and vintage mirrors.
If this sounds like your loved one, then a piece of vintage homeware is a great choice, as long as you are certain what style and which era they are into.
If you are pressed for time, then I find Etsy the best place to look online for vintage homewares. Both eBay and Facebook Marketplace can be a bit hit or miss, however, there are bargains to be had in both places if you get lucky. Charity shops and antique shops can be enjoyable to browse, but there are no guarantees you’ll find what you are looking for.
Unused and Unboxed Items
It’s a sad fact that people get given gifts that they don’t necessarily want. In the UK, British people receive over £2bn-worth of unwanted gifts, many of which are never opened, and donated to charity or sold on. An eye-watering figure if ever there was one.
Gifts are unwanted for a number of reasons. It could be the wrong size or style, or just not to their taste. It could be a duplicate of something they already have. Just because it’s unwanted, doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. Indeed, someone’s unwanted gift could be another person’s treasure, so it is worth keeping an eye out in case it’s the perfect thing for your loved one.
Charity shops and Facebook Marketplace are good places to look for unused and unboxed items – just check the box hasn’t been torn or ripped. eBay and Depop are good for clothes that still have their tags on them but haven’t been worn. Here are my top places to shop for secondhand clothes online.
What would you add to this secondhand gift ideas list? I’d love to hear!
Looking for ethical and eco-friendly gift ideas? Well, I have you covered. I have put together a whole host of ethical gift ideas for every possible occasion. Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, any kind of day! And, I’ve kept things really budget-friendly, with ideas from £3.50 up to a maximum of £35.
My plan for this eco-friendly gift ideas post is to make it static on my front page, and I will keep it updated with my favourite gift ideas. That way it will be ever-evolving and ever added to, giving you a fresh load of ideas whenever you need it.
Make sure you bookmark it or save it to Pinterest. That way, when you ever need any zero-waste, plastic-free or eco-friendly gift ideas for any occasion then you know where to look!
In order to cover the site’s running costs, the links used below are affiliate links. This means I may receive a small percentage of the sale price from the retailer if you buy anything using the links below, but this does not affect the price you pay, or your return rights as a consumer.
When it comes to buying an eco-friendly gift, something you know that they will use time and time again is always a great option. Here are some of my favourite reusable zero-waste gift ideas:
This reusable safety razor comes with 5 replacement blades, a hessian travel bag and full instructions for a zero-waste shave. Find it for £24.99 at Wearth London.
I have tried a few different metal lunchboxes, and many of them leak. Not this beauty, from Black+Blum, which has a silicone valve creating a secure vacuum-sealed closure. The silicone band also holds a handy stainless steel fork in place. Handily, it’s oven-safe for heating up food and freezer-safe for storing pre-cooked food.
Although I’m working from home right now, I’m finding I am using my lunchbox more than ever. We are going on long walks, and picnics at weekends, as many indoor activities and cafes are closed, and it’s been a godsend!
In a similar vein to above, a food flask is a great addition to a hike or picnic, especially in winter. You can carry hot soup or a chilli or stew with you for something warming when you are out in the cold.
A water bottle, but make it fashion. This pretty Corkcicle water bottle is patterned with Rifle Paper Co’s signature floral print, and keeps your drink cold for up to 25 hours or hot for up to 12 hours.
Find it online from Paper Tiger for £35. Paper Tiger is one of my favourite local (Edinburgh) gift shops – do check it out if you are ever in the city!
The Neon Kactus glass coffee cups use only fully recyclable and sustainable materials, and look great too. And, unlike plastic or bamboo, glass doesn’t taint the flavour of your drink. Find it at Born Eco for £13.99.
Eco-Friendly Beauty Ideas
Wanting to indulge someone special? Try these vegan-friendly and plastic-free beauty gift ideas:
This £30 gift set from Evolve is a fantastic way to treat someone special. It features a daily moisturiser, plus a hyaluronic serum for extra moisturisation, and a cleansing face mask made from raw cacao.
Vegan friendly, cruelty-free, and hand made in England, all of Evolve Beauty’s products are packaged in glass. What’s more, all of the packaging from their gift boxes are made from fully recyclable cardboard.
I’m coveting this one for myself, as Evolve Beauty’s daily moisturiser is my very favourite, delivering intense hydration without greasiness, oiliness, or stickiness. I feel it performs as well as moisturisers 3 times its price, and smells amazing too!
2020 has been all about the soap, and the handwashing – all of the handwashing. Make it special for someone with this beautifully scented vegan and palm oil free soap from Soapdaze, that comes with a hand-knitted facecloth. It comes in plastic-free packaging and is also delivered plastic-free. Find it on Etsy for £15.95.
Bloomtown are the UK’s first certified palm-oil free company. They specialise in beauty products that are vegan, cruelty-free, palm-oil free, as well as being free from a host of other nasties, including petrochemicals, sulphates, SLS, and parabens – all packaged in recyclable glass.
They’ve put together a fantastic gift set, allowing you to spoil someone you love with this selection of premium products that you can choose yourself depending on the recipients tastes. Bloomtown will then beautifully wrap it and personalise it with a card. Buy it for £33 from Etsy.
Ethical Food & Drink Gift Ideas
I always think food makes for one of those really great eco-friendly gift ideas. There are some great ethical gift ideas in here. Whether you are looking for a little something for a special someone, a stocking filler idea, or are making up a hamper of ethical goodies.
Look out for food ideas with compostable packaging, products made from ingredients that would go to waste, and more.
For chocolate lovers, Seed & Bean Chocolate is the one to go for. The chocolate comes in loads of delicious flavours, like Cornish Sea Salt or Lemon & Cardamom. Their entire range is also fairtrade, vegan, and certified organic as standard. What’s more, the packaging is fully recyclable and home compostable. Find it from £2.99 for a bar at Ethical Superstore, and look out for boxes of truffles and gift sets too.
Percol’s certified organic and fairtrade ground coffee makes a great ethical gift idea. As well as tasting delicious, and being vegan, Percol’s ground coffee packaging is plastic-free and completely home compostable. After you’ve finished your coffee, you can place the bag in your home composter. Here the packaging will naturally decompose as it is derived from a range of natural products such as paper, plant fibres, and eucalyptus wood pulp. Find it at Ethical Superstore for around £4.75 a bag.
Want to gift someone some really nice tea? I really rate Teapigs. Their seasonal blends in particular really elevate tea time.
Teapigs have all the certifications. They are a certified B Corp. This is a certification that recognises the businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. B Corp status helps build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. They are also Rainforest Alliance certified, and a certified Living Wage Employer.
Tea Pigs packaging is also entirely plant-based. This means that the outer carton is fully recyclable. The used tea temples can also be composted with your local food waste collection. And even the inner bag, which looks like plastic, is home compostable. Shop the range at your local supermarket, or buy online from Planet Organic, from just £3.95.
Earlier this year, I wrote how Small Beer is one of the UK’s eco-friendliest breweries. If you didn’t catch the article, Small Beer makes great tasting, low ABV vegan beers, and is committed to saving water in an otherwise wasteful industry. It typically requires 8-10 pints of water to brew a single pint of beer. However, the environmentally conscious people at Small Beer have got that down to just 1 and a half pints of water per pint. And like Teapigs, are a certified B Corp.
Through Not On The High Street, they’ve put together a gift pack of their beer selection, complete with a personalised label. Find it on Not On The High Street for £21.
Elephant Gin is a beautiful tasting gin, distilled using 14 botanicals. This gives the gin a floral, fruity, and spicy flavour that can be enjoyed both straight and in a cocktail. What’s more, the company contributes 15% of all profits to two African elephant foundations to support the preservation of African wildlife. Find it on 31Dover for £29.15.
Social Stories Club put together hampers containing products that support different social causes.
This vegan hamper contains a variety of products. From tea supporting education for girls in tea growing regions to relish made from wonky onions that were rescued from landfill. You will also find chocolate supporting farmers in Ghana, and hot chocolate supporting farmers in 14 different countries. Also included is a beautiful bar of soap designed by a community of artists living with complex epilepsy and learning disabilities.
Find the hamper (or browse their selection of other hampers) for £36. Also enjoy free delivery direct from Social Stories Club.
Eco Book Gift Ideas
More than ever, there are now tons of books available to inspire you to live a more sustainable life. Here are just a few of my favourites to give you some eco-friendly gift inspiration.
Simply Living Well
I bought a copy of Julia Watkin’s book, Simply Living Well, at the start of lockdown, and it was a lovely balm for the soul. It’s a visually stunning, gentle, feel-good book full of lovely ideas for creating a natural and low waste home. Find it on Wordery for £13.75 and free delivery.
Fresh Clean Home
Got a friend interested in making their own cleaning products? I am completely and utterly biased because I wrote this one, but I would say that Fresh Clean Home is the best book for this. I talk you through all the ingredients you need, and the materials you need. Next, I share my tried and tested recipes for every room in the house, and almost every cleaning need. Find it on Wordery for £10.33 and free delivery.
The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide
Jen Gale has put together this incredibly practical and actionable guide to sustainable living. It covers every aspect of our lives from the stuff we buy and the food we eat, to how we travel, work, and celebrate. Jen also provides stacks of practical, down to earth ideas to slot into daily life. Find it on Wordery for £10.50 and free delivery.
I received a press copy of Earth Mob earlier in the year and spent an enjoyable few days picking up a wealth of ideas on how to be more sustainable in the kitchen.
From sustainability to seasonality, plastic-free, and zero-waste, Earth Mob is filled with thrifty kitchen tips and delicious recipes. These will help you to save money and cut down on food waste, as well as learn how to shop and store food more efficiently. With information on sustainable food swaps, intuitive cooking hacks, and how to make the most of your leftovers, this small but mighty book is a great bookshelf staple. Find it on Wordery for £8.42 and free delivery.
Eco-friendly Kids Gift Ideas
Kids are tricky to buy for. I’ve put together a ton of non-gift ideas. Otherwise, when buying for other people’s kids I like to keep it to the basics. Think fun clothes, good books, simple toys, or sweet treats. Here are some of my favourite ethical and eco-friendly gift ideas for kids:
Toby Tiger make wonderfully fun and bright 100% certified organic babies and kids clothes, from birth to six years. They specialise in fun patterns and timeless, almost all unisex, designs that can be worn again and again. Prices are around the £30 mark.
Every Christmas and birthday, without fail, my kids always seem to get the most long-lasting enjoyment out of classic games. These over-sized wildlife dominoes, which are £9.99 from Ethical Superstore, are bright and fun, and made from 90% recycled paper.
If you’re considering buying a wooden toy as a gift, then do check out my guide to wooden toys, as not all wooden toys are necessarily eco-friendly.
Tidy is a fun environmental book for little kids that isn’t too in your face about it, which I think is a great way to normalise environmentalism. Pete the badger likes everything to be neat and tidy at all times, but what starts as the collecting of one fallen leaf escalates and ends with the complete destruction of the forest. Will Pete realise the error of his ways and set things right? This cautionary tale of overenthusiastic neatness delivers its message of environmental preservation with subtlety and humour.
Through illustrations, maps and infographics, bestselling author Rachel Ignotofsky, explains how our planet works. From its incredible ecosystems and the plants and animals that live there to the importance of biodiversity, weather cycles and more. With additional information on the dangers of climate change and ideas for how to protect Planet Earth, this is a great book for kids aged 8 plus.
Looking for a little something to stuff in a stocking? These Play In Choc boxes contains two individually wrapped, deliciously creamy, organic dairy-free chocolates and a delightful cardboard toy to assemble. The toy is one of a series of 18 to collect, and also comes with its own fun facts educational info card. Find them at Ethical Superstore for £3.50 per box.
I hope you find these eco-friendly gift ideas useful! As I said, I will be adding to this post – so think of this as an ever-evolving post. As such, do check back when you are in need of ethical gift inspiration!
I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a UK based eco blog. I'm a sustainability expert, and my aim is to make sustainability simple, by researching and writing on all things environmental - from product guides to breaking down big ideas - so you don't have to.
As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now!
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