and protect the planet this Christmas
The Top Places to Shop for Sustainable Christmas Gifts Across the UK
You don’t have to sack Santa this year in the name of sustainability. Yes, it’s a smart environmental move to cut back on your Christmas consumption, but by making informed choices when you shop you can enjoy the season of giving, without the guilt!
Swapping material goods for ‘experience gifts’ is an obvious solution for people looking to give more consciously this season. The best bet here is to go with a large company like Buyagift, who offer a HUGE selection of experiences across the country (and you don’t have to pre-book the date). Stand-outs include cocktail making, a weekend away in a tree-house, and aqua-zorbing! If you think the recipient would prefer to choose their own activity, select a voucher and let them have the fun of deciding.
If you’re fed up of buying cheap products which break before you’ve even taken down the Christmas decorations, try Buy Me Once: an online store promising durable, UK-made goods. Their range of tech gifts especially stands out, with solar chargers, noise-cancelling headphones, and ‘Bamboombox’ speakers (crafted from, yes, you guessed it, bamboo).
The National Art Pass is the gift for culturally-minded Londoners that keeps on giving. Pass holders can enjoy free entry at hundreds of venues across the UK, and discounts at numerous special exhibitions. Music-lovers are sure to enjoy the Handel & Hendrix museum in Mayfair, and budding artists and animators should make a bee-line for the recently reopened Cartoon Museum in Fitzrovia. You will feel smug knowing that your purchase helps support public museums and galleries across the UK.
Gifting a plant is a big compliment - it says “I think you’re responsible enough to care for this living thing”! If you think you have any friends or relatives who could live up to the challenge, pay a visit to one of the two London Botanique Workshops. Here you’ll not only find Instagram-worthy cacti and bonsai trees, but you can also pick up homewares, gardening accessories and vases - all handmade by local designers.
If you’ve got a Lego-mad kid to buy for this Christmas, Bricktraders in St Albans is an excellent option. At this haven for Lego-lovers you can pick up second-hand (but perfectly good) Lego kits for a fraction of their original price. The shop is run by enthusiasts who will genuinely delight in helping you find the perfect gift.
Haeckels in Margate was founded in 2012 by volunteer beach warden and coastal enthusiast Dom Bridges. Disillusioned by the production ethos of many larger skin care companies, Dom wanted to create simple hand-crafted products that showcased the local natural ingredients. This passion grew into a company which manufactures and sells products for the skin and hair, as well as incense and candles. Their eco-credentials are impressive; they harvest the seaweed they use in many of their products from the beach just a few steps away from their front door.
Shopping for your boyfriend, brother, or guy pal? Visit Bristol’s Brothers We Stand, a fashion retailer focused on supply chain sustainability and transparency. All of their clothes and accessories have tags detailing the item’s social and environmental impact, and bestsellers include the vegan belts and recycled denim jackets.
The mission of Ride On charity in Exeter is to get more people on to bikes in a more affordable, sustainable way. One way in which they pursue this goal is to recycle cycles - that is, sell second-hand, refurbished bikes at low prices. The project is run by enthusiastic volunteers, and when you make a purchase from them you’ll be supporting the local community as well as diverting waste from landfill.
The concept behind Demijohn in York is beautifully simple: elegant glass bottles filled with your choice of delicious spirits, liqueurs, and oils and vinegars. There is an option here to suit all budgets, and you get to keep the cork-stoppered glass bottle for future reuse. Choose the UK-made Elderberry and Port Liqueur for extra eco-credentials.
Open House in Newcastle claims to be the region’s most “planet conscious” shopping venue. It offers products that are recycled, renewable, or from a sustainable source: including vintage clothes and vegan cosmetics. The shop is powered by a 100% ‘green’ energy supplier, and offers free phone charging to customers and locals.
If you’ve taken the pledge not to buy any new clothes this year, worry not- vintage pieces doesn’t count! For those seeking affordable retro clothes with a distinctly modern feel, try Cow - a no-waste giant in the UK vintage market. There are stores all over the country (including Liverpool and Manchester) selling creatively re-worked pieces for men and women that you certainly won’t find anywhere else.
In this age of Kindles, screens, and scrolling , there is something life-affirming about getting lost in an actual book. Gifting books at Christmas is a tradition which ought not to be forgotten, and you can’t get much more sustainable than a second-hand or vintage book. Didsbury Village Bookstore (on the outskirts of Manchester) is an absolute delight - a treasure trove of novels and nonfiction for every age and interest. When you’re done shopping, pop to the cafe next-door for a cup of tea and some locally-made cake.
If you’re shopping for a foodie then you’d better head to the UK’s largest zero waste supermarket: The Clean Kilo in Birmingham. Even though most of their products are either organic or artisan-made, the prices are competitive and the selection is extensive. Just bring your own containers and fill them up with goodies such as chocolate covered almonds, local butter, and wild apple and raspberry jam. A hamper of treats would be sure to be well-received by a responsibly-minded food lover.
Know anyone with an adventurous streak? Let them put their survival skills to the test without leaving the city: gift tickets to the Bear Grylls Adventure at the NEC in Birmingham. Kids (and the young at heart) can try their hand at a range of challenges, from high ropes to snorkeling and archery. The memories of the day will last far longer than a material gift ever could.
Society Zero, a Glaswegian social enterprise, was founded by an environmental science student who wanted to challenge the stereotype that zero-waste living is unaffordable and inaccessible. They regularly run stalls at local markets, where they sell a thoughtfully-curated range of homewares and gifts.
The charming Dandelion & Ginger boutique is a gifting go-to in Edinburgh’s Tollcross. Here you can find ethically made clothing, unique decorations for home, a collection of locally made ceramics, and much more.
Cardiff-based Miss Patisserie sells vegan bath and body products made from high quality natural ingredients. The colourful bath bombs would be a perfect stocking-filler for a pal who deserves some me-time.
The Swansea Environment Centre is a community centre for the city’s green movement, and its Green Shop stocks all manner of ethical, organic products, many of which are made from recycled materials. The best thing is that all of the profits go towards supporting the charity’s local and national activities.