Big Issue Vendor

Eco-friendly gifts: 20 online shops for ethical presents

Gift buying is a difficult business, but as more people consider the environmental impact of their spending habits, why not make a change and buy only eco-friendly presents?

Gift buying is a tough gig. Especially in the middle of lockdown when you can’t get out and see what your money is actually going on.

More of us will be looking to buy presents online, whether for a birthday, a special occasion, or just to treat a significant other and let them know how much they mean to you. 

Affordability and quality is important, but as more of us try to do our bit to save the planet, lower our carbon footprints and make ethical decisions – it can be hard to know you are shopping at a responsible outlet.  

A handful of giant corporations dominate the online retail market. Critics argue they aren’t doing enough to act sustainably and stem the effects of climate change. They’ve also been accused of making it difficult for independent retailers to compete and unethical employment practices when it comes to their staff.

So if you are having trouble finding ethical stores selling good quality and eco-friendly gifts, you’re not alone. However, this regularly updated list of 20 online retailers selling ethical and eco-friendly gifts should offer something for everybody.

Some stores are putting money into good causes and providing opportunities for those in poverty, while others help the environment and try to make the world a better place. Now, you can buy gifts and know your money is doing good at the same time.

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

Socially responsible and eco-friendly gifts

The Big Issue Shop 

As well as being an award-winning magazine sold by people who are homeless and vulnerably housed, The Big Issue also has a shop, where every item is made by a company that aims to have a positive impact on society. It might be a charity, a social enterprise or a firm that reuses and recycles materials to help the planet. 

“It’s a very special shop because what we sell helps,” said Big Issue founder John Bird. “It helps you because it’s something that you want to buy. It helps us because it gives us income for our work. And it helps the people who make the stuff that we sell to you! It’s a virtuous circle. Winners all around. And it’s all social trading.”

The Green Turtle

In a busy world where we all have a million and one things to do, it can be hard to avoid plastic. But fear not, The Green Turtle is all about eco choices. Lorna, who runs the eco-friendly online shop, wants to help you conquer the journey to zero waste and sustainable living. 

Best selling products include everyday goods, such as sandwich wrappers, soap bars, bamboo dishcloths and natural deodorant. There are also a range of gift sets, from the “eco-love” set to natural love heart bath loofah

Huski Home 

Huski Home, a family-run company based in London, creates eco-friendly coffee husk travel cups and other reusable products.

“We believe that everyone has the power to create a brighter future and through small changes in our everyday lives, we can see a renewable world in our lifetime,” Founders Lisa and Luke say on their website. The couple has also been fighting food poverty by donating food items to the Bexley Food Bank.  

Eco-friendly and environmentally-friendly products from Huski Hom
Screenshot 2020-11-29 at 16.50.37
Some of the options available from Huski Home (Screenshot)

Re-wrapped 

Once you’ve bought the perfect gift, the next stage is to make it look pretty and pass it on to someone special. That’s where Re-wrapped come in. 

The London based company specialises in ethical wrapping paper, cards and notebooks. Founded in 2011, it uses 100 per cent recycled unbleached paper and cards and only uses environmentally friendly vegetable-based inks, this means all of their products can be recycled. They also support the non-profit sector and 5 per cent of all their profits go to charity.

Their most popular time of year, unsurprisingly, is Christmas, but they have a range of products for Birthdays or any other special occasion. 

Wearth 

Wearth, based in London, works with brands to try and make it easier for customers to “shop and live more consciously”. 

Launched in 2017, the company has partnered with more than 250 independent UK brands and has a large range of eco-friendly and ethical products. 

As well as many bundles available to help with eco-living, there is a massive gift section, ranging from organic sleep gift sets, self-care bundles and the flagship Wreath Gift Box which features a collection of the store’s most popular eco-friendly gifts.

Green Tulip 

Green Tulip encourages people to “shop small”. Launched in 2007, owner Charity had always dreamed of having her own shop, bringing together her personal commitments to trading fairly and respecting the environment. 

The store has a wide range of eco-friendly gifts on offer. From jewellery, confectionery, books and fashion, there really is something for everyone. Where possible, Green Tulip buys from small suppliers and commits to fair sourcing.

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Environmental and ethical food and drink

The Eco Coffee Company 

Many of us can’t function in the morning without that first mug of coffee.

But have you ever considered how environmentally friendly your caffeine-hit is? The Eco Coffee Company has become a hit for their “honest, responsible and delicious” brew. 

The firm prides itself on supplying coffee from ethical and sustainable sources. It employs a “robust” environmental policy offering a large selection of products from plastic-free tea bags to reusable mugs – all great eco-friendly gifts for the coffee lover in your life. 

Huskup

Huskup is an online retailer making reusable cups from rice husk and not plastic. The company says coffee can “make your world a better place” but coffee-culture is blighted by the fact less than 1 per cent of takeaway cups are recycled. The online store has several cups in different patterns and sizes. They even sell spare lids and have a “simple” range for those with more classic tastes. 

TheVeganKind 

Experts agree that we need to eat less meat due to the considerable deforestation and greenhouse gas production levels from the meat industry. TheVeganKind supermarket is trying to do something about this. They are a small, family business that wants to “inspire the world to be kind and go vegan”. They describe themselves as a 100 per cent “vegan online shopping heaven” and stock over 5,000 vegan and cruelty-free products. 

Ethical and environmental everyday items 

Who Gives A crap 

Who Gives A Crap believes everybody deserves “some seriously soft toilet paper”. 

Founded in Australia in 2012 and with offices in the UK, and the USA, the company uses loo roll to make a difference. There are 2 billion people around the world who don’t have access to a toilet. Now, Who Gives A Crap donate 50 per cent of their profits to building toilets and improving sanitation in the poorer countries around the world.

The business also has fun while doing it, and admit there are a lot of jokes to be made when flogging toilet paper. They say their paper is perfect for anybody with a “nice bum”. You can even have it delivered to your door but bosses are careful to make clear they mean your front door because having it delivered to your bathroom “would be creepy”. 

Lush 

Most people will have heard of Lush, and for good reason. The company is famed for its homemade, cruelty-free and eco-friendly cosmetics, operating more than 100 stores across the UK and hundreds more around the world. 

Best Sellers include ‘sleepy’ body lotion, ‘ultrabland’ facial cleanser and the company’s famous ‘dream cream’. 

Last Object 

LastObject is calling on fellow “waste warriors” to help them stamp out single-use goods and move toward products made to last. The company’s mission is to create objects that replace single-use items and can be reused hundreds or even thousands of times. 

Based in Copenhagen, they are famed for creating the LastSwab, the world’s first reusable cotton swab, which comes in two different models for different applications, whether general use or beauty. 

Wild & Stone 

Sometimes it can be hard to move away from single-use plastic; these items are often easy and convenient. Wild & Stone are hoping to change this. They make it easy to adopt, usable and stylish alternatives to single-use plastics. 

Set up by Kat, who always dreamed of running her own company, she wanted to help others start living a plastic-free life. Products available include household items to organic and reusable food wraps to bamboo picnic cutlery sets. Wild & Stone also has a growing collection of personal care items, including bamboo toothbrushes and cotton buds. 

EcoVibe 

EcoVibe started out as friends working together trying to do their bit for the environment. Today, they sell hundreds of products, from compostable sponges and biodegradable bin liners to coconut fibre scourers. The company says small steps can have a “huge” impact and want to consign single-use plastic to history. 

Boobalou 

Chocolates, flowers and jewelry are always nice, but some couples like to give more useful presents, so this one’s probably for the most practical of gift-givers.

 Boobalou is all about eco-living. They want to reduce the amount of waste we create by providing everyday household goods that are reusable and biodegradable. Products to help you create a more eco-home such as organic cotton bath towels, reusable food wrap and recycled stationery.

Wave

Our phones have become our everything, our conduit for socialising, banking, working, dating, you name it. If somebody you love is addicted to their phone then you can be safe in the knowledge they aren’t the only one. 

But what is their case made out of? Is it eco-friendly? It could be with the help of Wave

Created by three friends in the North East trying to spark change, the company has developed the Wave Case. Made from wheat straw, it was designed to be stylish yet biodegradable. “If you are going to protect your phone, make sure you protect our planet too,” they say.

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Ethical cosmetics and hygiene products

My Little Eco Shop 

Products that make us look and smell good are welcome at any time of the year, so we’ve also rounded up some ethical cosmetics brands, starting with My Little Eco shop. This online store has a simple message: in a world full of plastic, it’s time to choose something different. Based in Devon, its mission is to cut down on plastic usage and make people more aware of their ecological impact. 

Items currently on sale include soaps and melts, hair care bars, and other products to make skincare routines zero waste. As far as eco-friendly gifts go, that sounds good to us. 

FAIR SQUARED 

FAIR SQUARED sells “refreshingly sustainable” natural cosmetics such as hair and facial care argan, skincare oil, and hair cleansing soap. They do all this under one guiding principle: fairness. 

“Fair trading conditions, environmental responsibility, and a strict “no” to child labour and animal testing – fairness for us is something which should be connected to all areas,” the company’s website says. 

Jungle Culture 

Jungle Culture works with artisans and makers from across the globe to source its products responsibly, helping to build relationships with local communities and also help save the planet. 

Their Bamboo Safety Razors are unisex, sustainable and even come with a user guide for beginners. “At Jungle Culture we have a unique view on product sourcing. We have created an ethical supply chain, powered by small farms, craft workshops and transparent factories,” they say.

Georganics 

Georganics provide the perfect eco-friendly gifts for those who want to keep up with their oral hygiene. Founder Alex grew tired of synthetic ingredients used in conventional toothpaste and after struggling to find a pure oral care product decided to make his own. 

Items currently on sale include mineral toothpaste, toothpaste tablets and dental floss. The company also wants to help those protect the environment while scrubbing. They sell Beechwood toothbrushes which come in compostable packaging and don’t contribute to landfill.