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Life & Style, Special Occasions

How to Have an Ethical Christmas Without the Stress

Is it possible to have an ethical Christmas without stress? I think so.

Whilst we often hear that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”, sometimes Christmas can also be the most stressful.  When you’re feeling up against it, the additional challenge of trying to ensure the goods you’re buying or the services you’re using are as ethical as possible can be just too much.  Then you feel guilty for spending your hard-earned cash on something that really doesn’t sit well with your conscience.

How To Have An Ethical Christmas

The team at Ethical Consumer have come up with some great ideas about how you can have a more sustainable Christmas. And because we know that time and, or, money isn’t always available, they’ve also come up with some great alternatives to help you have the most ethical Christmas possible without getting too stressed.

how to have an ethical christmas

The Wrapping

Top of everyone’s Christmas list this year is to be plastic-free.  A sneaky way plastic enters the Christmas eco-system is in the form of wrapping paper. Anything with glitter on can’t be recycled. And many papers are actually lined with a thin film of plastic.

A great alternative is to use old fabric to wrap up gifts. Alternatively, you could incorporate the wrapping as part of the gift using scarves, facecloths, tea towels, and handkerchiefs to wrap smaller items. There are other eco-friendly gift wrap ideas too, where you can use old knitwear to create some stunning effects.

That’s probably not going to work if you’re wrapping a large children’s toy though. So if you are buying wrapping paper then opt for a recycled roll. You can find 100% recycled wrapping paper online from Re-Wrapped.

The Food

A trip to the supermarket can become laden with plastic. Everything from fruit and veg, to the turkey and Christmas pudding, comes in some form of plastic packaging.  The easiest way to go plastic-free is to shop local, and independent, taking your own containers and bags with you. And where necessary, getting your purchases wrapped in paper, not plastic.  Just
don’t throw away your older plastic containers in favour of buying new ones.

And remember to try and use an ethical alternative to cling film and foil, from tiffin tins to beeswax wraps.

Ethical Christmas Gifts

ethical christmas ideas

A great way to help ‘cut the stuff’ and the stress of trawling round shops could be to gift an adventure rather than an actual thing.  Theatre tickets, workshops ranging from terrarium making to pattern cutting, or membership to organisations like the Woodland Trust are just a few ideas.

For some people though, particularly children, there is a real joy in seeing them open a physical present.  If you’re lucky enough to have a high street with independent stores nearby then try and support them. But if you’ve not, then there’s no need to feel guilty about online shopping.

Several studies have shown that this form of shopping is no more environmentally damaging than visiting a bricks and mortar store. And in many instances, it’s better. You just need to steer clear of Amazon, with its tax avoidance strategies, poor environmental and worker’s rights record.

As part of our Amazon alternatives series, there’s a full rundown of the most ethical online shops there.  In short, a good all-rounder is Ethical Shop, with presents for all ages. Another is Acala for health and beauty products from a brand committed to zero waste. And another is the Viva! online shop for vegan-friendly gifts. Their range includes soy-candles, wine club membership, chocolate, and clothing. 

Books are a classic Christmas gift too. With Amazon dominating the market, it’s worth checking out the specialist guide to the most ethical booksellers.  World of Books is a great option, and free delivery helps. Check out this full guide to eco-friendly gift ideas.

You can also shop second-hand, with this useful guide to secondhand gift ideas.

Shopping Ethically on The High St

There’s always a last-minute panic purchase. A forgotten present or a party gift required.  That’s why knowing the top 5 most ethical high street stores can be a life-saver and a stress-free option when you just don’t have time for anything else. Our top shops are:

  • Lush for creative and sweet-smelling gifts from an ethical business committed to the real Living Wage, the Fair Tax Mark, and cruelty-free ingredients.
  • The Co-op Group is owned by an active membership, not shareholders. With a clear action plan on climate change and waste, handily they offer everything from food to electricals.
  • Marks & Spencer* are a cornerstone of the British high street, and Plan A demonstrates their commitments to sustainability.  They’re also listed in the palm oil-free guide, with the majority of their gift boxes of chocolates from truffles to Neapolitans clear of the problematic ingredient.
  • WHSmith scores highly in the environmental reporting and supply chain management categories. This makes them the best high street bookseller by far and available across the UK.
  • John Lewis’* partnership company structure makes them more progressive than their counterparts.  From garden products to perfume it’s a one-stop-shop that’s readily available in most cities.

Here’s to a stress free merry Christmas that doesn’t cost the earth!

ps: here are some zero-waste Christmas decorations to DIY if you are in the mood for some eco-friendly crafting.

Life & Style

Ethical Christmas Gift Guide 2018

ethical christmas gift guide 2018

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is less than 6 weeks away! As such, I’ve put together my annual ethical Christmas gift guide for 2018 packed full of ethical ideas for him, her, and for little ones.  From vegan, to palm oil-free, to plastic-free, to zero waste, to organic, I hope there’s something here for everyone.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that you should spend lots of money at Christmas. Therefore, all of my ideas are around the £30 mark or less and start from just £8.  

If you are after a more up-to-date guide, do check out my new guide to eco-friendly gift ideas for 2021.

Ethical Chirstmas Gifts For Him and Her

This post contains affiliate links

Here are my top ethical Christmas gift ideas for 2018:

DIY origami paper lamp kit* (£19.95) from OWL Paper Lamps.  I love this paper lamp kit that you make yourself (full instructions provided!).  Please note, this item ships from Portugal so bear this in mind with shipping times. 

Stainless Steel Lunchbox* (£18) by Green Tulip.  A great gift for anyone.  I have a stainless steel lunchbox that I use for work that my partner pinches on a regular basis!  

Soap, candle, and flannel gift set* (£21.50) from Soapdaze.  I love Soapdaze, and this gift box packed with a vegan candle, handknitted facecloth, and vegan soap is a lovely gift for someone that deserves a good pampering.  

Beeswax Food Wraps (£15) from Abeego.  I love my beeswax wraps, and I think they made a lovely gift.  Alternatively, you can make your own wraps. It’s really easy – promise!

Succulent enamel pins* from Katy Pillinger Designs (£18 for 3).  A cute gift for your friends.  Split them up so you all have one each, or give them all to one lucky recipient.  

Fresh Clean Home (from £8.30). Currently reduced on Amazon* but also available at other retailers.  I have it on very good authority that this book is brilliant for anyone that’s keen to give making their own cleaning products a go ;)  You could even gift it with some amber spray bottles* and/or a bottle of liquid castile soap*. 

Vegan and Palm Oil Free Pamper Gift Set (£18.70) from Bloomtown.  Vegan?  Check.  Palm oil-free? Check.  This gift set is perfect for anyone looking to indulge in a bit of natural beauty.

Vegan and plastic-free candle* (£11) from Vegan Bunny.  After a delicious smelling soy candle from a plastic-free company?  Vegan Bunny is the place to go!  

From clockwise, top left:

The Danish Art of Whittling (RRP £9.99).  I have been ogling this in my local bookshop and it looks like a wonderful guide to whittling (my newfound favourite hobby).  

Hydroflask (£23.99).  I love my Hydroflask – I wrote an ode to it here – and I promise, whoever you gift it to is sure to love it too.  

Safety Razor* (£32.50) from Wearth.  For anyone looking to swap from plastic razors.  

Bamboo Multi-Tool* (£15).  I  have one of those for my bike and it’s by far one of the most useful things I carry with me on a daily basis, and not just for my bike.  There are a few things you can’t mend with a multi-tool!  

Guppy Friend* (£25) from Ethical Superstore.  For ocean conscious pals that want to help stop microfibres from their laundry.  

Georganics Tooth Care Set (£19.90)* – A complete oral care gift set for anyone that wants to green their dental routine.  

Ethical Gift Ideas for Kids

Pretend Play Kitchenware Set* (£29.99) from Toby Tiger.  This sweet set contains enamel pans and metal utensils, and it’s so lovely to find a plastic-free set.  I could imagine this being a lovely hand-me-down set that will last for decades.  

The Lorax: How To Save The Planet Edition* (£11.41) from Harper Collins. We have this book and my kids love it.  As well as containing the classic Lorax story from Dr. Seuss, it’s also packed full of ideas on how kids can help the environment.  

Paper Bead Craft Kit* (£11.95) from Ethical Superstore.  Is there a kid that doesn’t love crafting?  I certainly haven’t met one yet.  This kit allows kids to make beads from recycled paper, which can then be used to make jewellery.  Hopefully, adults can get a shot too!  

Banana Pyjamas* (£19.99) from Toby Tiger.  These fun GOTS-certified organic cotton are sure to be a hit at bedtime.  These beauties come in lots of other fun patterns too.  

Personalised Water Bottle* (£15) from Not On The High Street.  Which kid doesn’t love seeing their name printed on anything?  I know when I was little I used to get incredibly excited when I saw my name printed on anything in a gift shop.  Now some 30 years later my kids are the same.      

Recycled Fire Engine (£19.95) from Ethical Superstore.  This cute fire engine is made from recycled milk bottles and is sure to provide tons of fun.

ps: here are 10 zero-waste and plastic-free shops on Etsy if you’re looking for more low-impact gift ideas, and here are some more lovely kids eco-friendly gift ideas.  I also have a great post on how to shop ethically online.

Do also check out my guide on how to have an ethical Christmas (without the stress).