A Christmas Gift Guide that keeps on giving back.
Christmas is gaining on us fast and we are all going to get bombarded with gift guides and Black Friday sales so I wanted to put together a Christmas gift guide with a difference.
I am the queen of leaving everything to the last minute, and my Christmas shopping is no exception. This year though, I’ve finally got my act together – motivated not only by the global pandemic but also a conscious effort not to be wasteful and buy unnecessary gifts in a desperate attempt to make Christmas joyful when we’re so desperately missing our loved ones.
I’ve put together a Christmas Gift Guide that includes some incredible indie brands that you may not heard of – the gifts are all ethical, sustainable AND the best bit is that they are all brands that are doing their bit to give back in some way.
I’ve loved putting together this blog post – I’ve discovered some amazing new businesses, while doing some of my Christmas shopping along the way and not lining any more of Bezos’ pockets. It’s the gift guide that keeps on giving.
Following a failed search for a natural perfume that was chic, modern and long lasting. Abel was founded in Amsterdam by New Zealander Frances Shoemack with a simple goal – to create the world’s best natural perfume.
Every single ingredient, in every one of their perfumes, is plant based, and is readily biodegradable back into our ecosystem. All of their fragrances are made entirely of essential oils, extracts and plant derived scent molecules in a base of organically certified, food grade grain alcohol.
They donate 1% of their total revenue to carefully selected nonprofit organisations through the 1% for the planet network. This contribution goes towards grassroots nonprofits that are doing meaningful, impactful work that aligns with Abel’s ethos.
For example: 1% of all WhiteVetiver fragrance sales go to supporting SOIL Haiti’s important work improving sanitation and using waste as compost in the community from which our vetiver oil is sourced. For NURTURE, a fragrance created for new and expecting mothers, they support African based Solar Sisters who provide essential services and training to enable women entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses in their own communities, as well as Green Cedar (pictured above) which contributes towards supporting nonprofit Plastic Soup Foundation in their mission to rid our oceans and our bodies of plastic.
If you’re struggling to choose just one of these delicious sounding scents, don’t worry, you could always go for the discovery set which includes a beautiful set of six 1.5ML vials – they’re the perfect handbag size to take out and about or you could split them up and use them as stocking fillers.
Cork Yoga Mat
CorkYogis was originally founded by Lara Sengupta in 2016 as a vehicle to help women and young girls out of human trafficking and sex slavery in Kolkata, India. She even appeared on Dragon’s Den! Lara sold CorkYogis in 2018. Clare Melford bought the social business and is dedicated to helping evolve the CorkYogis mission – to perfect the cork yoga mat and in turn give back.
The benefits of using a cork mat as oppose to the usual rubber or plastic are more than just the obvious too. As well as being more sustainable they also come with a heap of impressive credentials:
- Antimicrobial – viruses, bacteria, fungus do not grow on cork which in todays times is a pretty big plus
- Grip that improves as you sweat
- Low thermal conductivity – mat will always feel comfortable no matter what temperature your body is
- Cork harvesting stimulates tree growth
They’re suitable for all forms of yoga, pilates and other forms of mat based exercise and if you’re not already sold they’re also committed to making a big difference in peoples lives.
They give 10% of their profits to the Destiny Reflection Foundation allowing them to train and give work to survivors of human trafficking and sex slavery. Their mission is to educate, employ and empower women to help them create an independent life for themselves in society.
It’s a beautifully designed, sustainable yoga mat with a big heart – the perfect mindful gift.
From getting active to kicking back and relaxing, we’re going to be spending a bit more time at home so we may as well make ourselves comfortable.
In 2015, NAUSENI‘s founder, Wilatluk, and her family were in Kathmandu when the Earthquake struck Nepal. Like many other survivors, she got involved in the relief and recovery efforts in the days that followed. Having raised funds and sent relief materials to Gorkha in close collaboration with local NGOs in Nepal, Wilatluk later returned to visit the quake-affected areas, and quickly learnt that going forward, many survivors, particularly women, didn’t expect any hand-outs, and wished to rebuild their lives and homes with their “own two hands”.
Taking the phrase “with our own two hands” quite literally, Wilatluk started NAUSENI WOMEN INITIATIVE with the mission to empower women by providing skill development and adding values to their traditional crafts. The INITIATIVE invited a leading British designer and tutor with the expertise in wool felting and provided free week-long wool felt and needle felting training for fifty Nepali women in Kathmandu in September 2016.
After two years of incubation period in skill development along with product development and design, Wilatluk has turned the self-funded initiative into a socially responsible business, trading under the name of NAUSENI.
Each pair of slippers is lovingly made using 100% natural wool, mixed with water and soap. Carefully hand-felted into one seamless piece, NAUSENI’s slippers keep your feet warm on cold winter days and cool in the summer time, thanks to unique qualities of natural wool making them perfect for gift wrapping the toes of someone you love this Christmas and giving back to a great cause in the process.
Blantyre Storage Jars
Taking inspiration from their heritage, Naeema and Aniqah founded QÄSA QÄSA in 2015 and set off on a journey to explore the incredibly diverse skills of artisans in Eastern Africa. Their passion for discovering traditional craftsmanship forms the inspiration behind their collection of handmade home accents. QÄSA QÄSA is a contemporary homeware shop offering covetable, one of a kind pieces that have been designed to inspire the curious.
QÄSA QÄSA have partnered with exceptional artisans, non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and community groups in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Malawi to design and source unique products that combine traditional skills with modern design. All pieces are meticulously handcrafted using local and indigenous materials and take into account sustainability and ethical production.
QÄSA QÄSA have partnered with a wonderful organisation in Malawi that nurtures local artisanal talent to produce an array of eye-catching and unique designs. Resourceful with local materials, the artisans have made these statement storage jars. They collect empty wine bottles from local restaurants, cut them to size and hand carve exquisite mahogany wood lids to fit, each with a unique design and wood grain. Ideal in the kitchen or bathroom, or just as display pieces, these bottles would make a stunning addition to any room.
The organisation supports artisans to build sustainable businesses lending interest free loans to enable them to invest in equipment and materials to grow their enterprises. This ensures age-old techniques survive for future generations.
Roll Top Back Pack
Established in 2012, Lefrik started designing urban bags, backpacks and travel essentials using the highest quality eco-friendly fabrics made out of recycled plastic PET bottles.
Lefrik was born to solve travel and city commuting problems by providing the most fashionable and functional bags for the modern digital nomad. They offer conscious consumers access to innovative products that while still being cool and savvy, are made avoiding the use of more natural resources.
As well as being approved as vegan by the animal welfare organization PETA, Lefrik contributes to the environment by reducing the use of virgin polyester and rather extending the life of discarded plastic bottles, while saving energy in the production process.
They have a number of different sizes, styles and colours to choose from so you’re guaranteed to bag the right gift.
Mini Roll Top Back Pack
Not to leave the little ones in your life out, I came across this amazing initiative. Wyatt & Jack are a UK based sustainable brand, creating bags and accessories from salvaged bouncy castles, deckchair canvas and inflatables, since 2010.
In 2018 Wyatt & Jack launched their Inflatable Amnesty, which allows the public to send them their broken inflatables, to avoid sending them to landfill, with the option of also having a bag made for themselves. This has built a community which also involves members of the public becoming collection points, so that they can then arrange collection of fabrics in larger numbers.
So far as a company, they have saved tonnes of plastic and mixed fibre fabrics from landfill. They also created an ‘End of Life’ and ‘Repairs’ policy, to ensure that they remain responsible for the products that they create, even after they have reached the customer.
The designs are bold and a lot of fun making them the perfect present to lift up someones spirits and instantly transport them back to those fond holiday memories.
Ocelot Chocolate is a small business, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is owned and run by Matt and Ish. In 2013, two weeks after getting married, they started making chocolate in the back kitchen of their apartment and sold at local farmers markets. Seven years on and they have a small factory, and an amazing little team who help them to send their chocolate all around the world. They only use the highest quality ethical produce, and use ethical business practices in every way they can.
All packaging is plastic-free and made in the UK. The outer packaging is printed using water based inks on FSC certified sustainable card and the inner film is certified home and industrial compostable.
Our favourite flavour is the sea salt, made with 70 per cent chocolate from sustainably grown beans in Virunga National Park with a dash of hand-harvested sea salt from the Isle of Skye.
You can buy the whole Ocelot collection, presented in a beautiful tactile navy blue case which would be a lovely little treat for someone with a sweet tooth that is a sucker for good packaging design.
Roland Mustard Ivory Trainers
Reducing the fashion industry’s negative impact on the environment and doing no harm to animals are the core philosophies of eco-brand Flamingos Life. The latest version of its Roland trainer is made from corn waste and recycled plastic bottles.
Each of their sneaker collections have a social project associated with it, to help balance their impact and improve the lives of the most vulnerable living beings. Flamingos Life work with Agua ONG to build water wells in underserved areas of Africa and together with Eden Reforestation Projects they have several reforestation projects in Madagascar and Mozambique.
They also collaborate with Waste Free Oceans by making monthly donations for marine litter collection and to generate environmental awareness educational projects.
The ‘Roland” trainers come in six different colours but the mustard is my favourite. For every pair of Roland trainers sold, Flamingos makes a monthly donation to the Waste Free Oceans Foundation making them the perfect gift for the crep collectors with a conscience amongst us.
Cardita Shell Hoops
Atteya are a small independent brand making symbolic and ethically conscious handmade jewellery. Their desire and passion for making is combined with a promise to maintain transparency and a goal to become 100% sustainable, believing that beauty shouldn’t impact the earth and that instead the earth’s beauty should be respectfully celebrated.
All of their jewellery is hand made in the UK using 100% recycled precious metals, and 100% harm-free production.
In return for using materials and endless inspiration from our planet Atteya have paired their three collections with three incredible social and environmental charities with 5% of each sale being donated directly to them.
As the names suggest, their three collections ‘Wood’, ‘Water’ and ‘Talisman’ take their inspiration from the natural world. In biophilia, shell motifs and their free flowing shapes have been shown to be soothing to look at and there’s no doubt that shells are having a bit of a moment right now so I’ve chosen these shell hoops as just one of my favorites from their collections.
Dip Glazed Mug
Aerende is a lovingly sourced collection of handmade items for your home. All of their products are created in the UK by people facing social challenges. Produced in low-volume batches and designed to improve with age, each purchase from their range of ethical homewares directly supports and provides opportunities for their talented makers.
Aerende’s stoneware mugs, beakers, plates and bowls are made by adults with learning disabilities who are receiving residential support at Camphill Village Trust’s Grange Village in Gloucestershire. At this residential community, adults get the opportunity to feel valued and to gain independence through the development of craft skills.
Their beautiful airy pottery looks out over the Severn Hills and we think their work has a calming, natural quality. Look carefully and you might spot the initials of the maker on the underside of the product.
Emerson Sun Glasses
FreshforPandas are a London based online store specialising in Fresh Eco-Friendly Wood and Bamboo Eco Eyewear.
Their aim is to contribute to the reduction of plastic use in our society, whilst providing fresh, stylish alternatives to the big corporate brands.
They have an extensive range of Handcrafted Eco Friendly Sunglasses and Eyeglasses made with sustainably sourced wood and plant-based acetate. We ship carbon-neutral with completely plastic free packaging from our studio offices in Hampstead, London UK.
These beautifully finished multilayered ‘Emerson’ sunglasses are a a classic shape and medium sized making them suitable for both men and women and would suit most face types. The finish is sturdy, thanks to the unique multi-layer wood and carbon fibre material, ensuring a lightweight natural, but sturdy finish.
A stylish and thoughtful gift that’s kind to the planet.
No Christmas gift list would be complete without a scented candle would it? Morgan Jost‘s range of candles have been developed to help improve your wellbeing, encouraging you to take a moment for yourself to nourish your body and mind.
They handpour all of their candles in Henley-on-Thames with 100% natural oils and paraben-free soy wax.
Morgan Jost also donate 50% of all of their profits to Mind, a charity in aid of improving mental health. Their mission is to not give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect. So every time you buy a candle from them, you are joining them in their commitment to making a change, as well as giving the much needed gift of a moment calm to someone you love.
I love the sound of the Botany candle which has a natural fresh blend of tomato vine, fig and bergamot to help you connect with your surroundings and energise the mind. Bliss.
OlaOla is a Textile design studio, by Ola Olayinka, which creates bold & unique patterned accessories such as bags, hair accessories and jewellery.
Her products are made so that everyone can easily liven up their everyday style through the use of bold colours and eclectic graphic print. The patterns are inspired by nature, the abstract and the use of colour and pattern in Ola’s Nigerian heritage. Printed and hand-made in small batches in the UK. Products are made to order allowing less fabric waste and all smaller off-cuts are up-cycled into products such as earrings. All patterns are originals created by OlaOla.
There are eight hardback notebooks to choose from, each with their own beautifully designed cover and you can can choose between lined or plain paper making it a great gift for a doodler or list maker.
Organic Cotton Pyjama Set
And finally the one gift that I am always so, so happy to receive…a brand new pair of PJ’s.
AIAYU is a Danish brand rooted in quality and love. Proudly participating in the #whomadeyourclothes campaign, everything is made using plastic free fashion, eco friendly packaging and carbon neutral shipping.
The farmers AIAYU work with have extensive experience growing organic cotton, yielding a high quality that is actually higher than conventionally grown cotton. They use techniques that support healthy eco systems and biodiversity, including reducing the consumption of water.
This AIAYU pyjama set is soft and breathable with a light shirt and pants made from sustainable sourced crisp organic cotton poplin and a portion of the sales go to Supporting our forests.
One Tree Planted plant where trees are needed most. Right now, Australia needs trees the most, as they lost 18 million hectares (46 million acres) of precious nature in the recent devastating fires. It should not have to be said that trees are essential for our survival. Not only do forests provide jobs for over 1.6 billion people but they clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, provide habitats for 80% of the world biodiversity, and trees are the key ingredient in 25% of all medicines.
So there you have it, the Christmas gift list that gives a little back whilst remaining kind to the precious world that we live in. I hope you find it as useful as I did putting it all together.