We know it can be hard to be green during the festive period. Food waste, excess packaging and having your Christmas lights on all night (I’m looking at you Phil at number 45, seriously it’s not even December yet), all affects our footprint. Don’t worry though you can still be green, and leave others green with envy, with these seven sustainable gift ideas.
With retailer competition driving early Black Friday sales this year, you might have already given some thought to the kind of gifts you want to give friends and family this Christmas. Some of you might be two steps ahead and already bought something. But if you’re still on the lookout, or considering something fun and new, then we’ve picked out some eco-friendly UK brands that are putting a green spin on the classics.
Each year, an estimated 100 billion items of clothing are bought by avid shoppers around the world, most of which are thrown away and sent to the landfills within 12 months. Rapanui, a sustainable clothing company that uses renewable energy and natural materials, is out to change that.
Starting with just a garden shed, an ambitious goal, and an overwhelming concern for our planet, the two brothers behind Rapanui have created a circular supply chain that’s both efficient and rewarding. The Isle of Wight based company has designed all their products to be sent back to them when worn-out, and instead of producing in bulk, orders are designed in real-time, reducing the risk of wasting any material along the way.
As a company, they’re as thorough and trustworthy as it comes, and are eager to extend their branch on the world of fashion, one sustainable step at a time.
Health and beauty brand UpCircle have taken a pioneering approach to upcycling natural skin friendly ingredients into beauty products. They use waste ingredients like used coffee grounds and brewed chai tea spices to make sustainable skin care products.
The spark for UpCircle came when the sibling founders – Anna and William Brightman – realised the amount of coffee grounds they were throwing away everyday. Anna knew the amazing benefits of coffee for the skin and the concept for UpCircle was born. To date they have already saved 80 tonnes of coffee grounds from going to waste.
As well as being 100% natural, the skincare range is also incredibly effective. Their own research has shown that brewed coffee beans has higher levels of anti-oxidants than fresh coffee. So with UpCircle, you get to enjoy the benefits of nature’s own skin rejuvenators and do the plant some good, too. What’s not to love?
The Recycled Candle Company
If you’re looking to add a little bit of ‘hygge’ to someone’s life, which is what the Danish refer to as a quality of cosiness and comfort that engenders a feeling of contentment, then look no further than The Recycled Candle Company. What started as a childhood memory with mum has now turned into a successful eco-friendly business that collects and recycles scrap candle wax, giving it new life and meaning.
The collected wax is melted down, cleaned, dyed, and scented all by the passionate team in Exeter. They work with local businesses across London, like hotels and restaurants, that are eager to reduce their waste levels, and they’re always looking for new partnerships to keep the mission going. Currently, they have an excellent Christmas range full of intriguing candle blocks, trees, tins, and pillars.
The Beeswax Wrap Co.
Probably one of the most creative companies out there in the world of eco-friendliness, The Beeswax Wrap Co. specialises in the creation of beautiful beeswax wraps that act as a perfect substitute to cling film and aluminium foil.
These reusable, compostable, self-sealing wraps are suitable for fridge and freezer for up to a year and are handmade by the ‘beesy’ team in the British countryside. You’ll be able to wrap sandwiches, cover leftovers, keep cheese and bread fresh for longer, and even prove dough. And because it’s self-sealing, it can even be used to open difficult jars and make piping bags. But the choices are practically endless – if it needs packing or covering, beeswax wraps will take care of it.
Birdsong is a young British fashion brand who design original wardrobe staples that are ethical, sustainable and made by talented women paid a fair wage. The team create clothing for women who dress in protest against the fast nature of the fashion industry. They dream up designs in-house and then work with expert makers who face barriers to employment in the UK – artists, and printmakers to seamstresses and painters – and pay them a London Living Wage to bring their creations to life.
Since their inception, they have generated near to £150,000 for local charities that were struggling for funding. Birdsong garments are also packed and posted by Mail Out – a social enterprise that offers people with learning disabilities support with their health and wellbeing.
Kapdaa is an eco-friendly company that turns the fabric leftovers of cutting patterns from designer brands into beautiful notebooks, wallets, picture frames, and even quirkier items like luggage tags, eye masks, and passport holders.
The team sources their fabrics from an ever-growing list of fashion houses, interior designers, textile weavers and mills who are left with cut patterns of odd shapes and sizes after designing their collections. These offcuts, which too often end up in landfills, are revamped thanks to the creative craftsmanship at Kapdaa.
What’s more, they ethically source the rest of their materials, like paper and natural ink, from local and family businesses, using traditional bookbinding and screen-printing methods to support local artisans.
Over the past two years, they’ve reused more than 5000 metres of fabric offcuts, turning what would have been waste into something more. They aim to transform every offcut this way, spreading a valuable message on zero-waste.
Neal’s Yard Remedies
No list of ethical UK brands would be complete without mentioning Neal’s Yard Remedies. Founded in 1981, Neal’s Yard Remedies is a modern apothecary making health and beauty products using only the finest natural and organic herbs, botanicals and essential oils. All their beauty products are made at their eco-factory in Dorset, set in acres of organic gardens and fields which grow many of the herbs used in their products.
Neal’s Yard Remedies have real pedigree when it comes to sustainability. They were the first health and beauty brand to be certified as organic by the Soil Association in 1991; their packaging is carbon balanced through the World Land Trust; and they have supported bee friendly causes since 2011, raising over £165,000 with their Bee Lovely range. They also successfully lobbied the government for the ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetic products.