Image for Presents with purpose: 33 sustainable gifts to give this Christmas

Presents with purpose: 33 sustainable gifts to give this Christmas

From plantable calendars to prescription poetry, as well as timely books, here are 33 positive presents to give this Christmas – including personal recommendations from the Positive News team

From plantable calendars to prescription poetry, as well as timely books, here are 33 positive presents to give this Christmas – including personal recommendations from the Positive News team

Want to avoid the dark side of consumerism without being a Scrooge? Then have a glance over our Christmas gift guide below. It features sustainable gifts that support small businesses while treating the planet, and society, kindly.

Food and drink

Spicy sauces

Drench those Christmas day leftovers in South African sunshine with these gourmet spicy sauces from the Kingdom of Eswatini. They’re made by Fair Trade producer, Eswatini Kitchen, which provides a sustainable income to more than 300 people, the vast majority of them women and the sole providers for their household. Proceeds go to youth care initiatives supporting thousands of marginalised Eswatini children. £15; goodthingsgifts.co.uk

Image: Good Things Gifts

Festive coffee

Christmas cheer in a mug. Apostle Coffee’s festive blend combines certified organic beans from Colombia, India and Sumatra in a smooth, rich roast with notes of marzipan, chestnut, red currant and brown sugar – like a liquid version of your mum’s best Christmas cake. Apostle’s eco-credentials are also second to none: coffee comes in home-compostable packaging and beans are processed in an off-grid roastery. Take out a subscription and they’ll even plant a tree on your behalf. £9.99; apostlecoffee.com.

Image: Apostle Coffee

Craft beer

Recommended by Robin Eveleigh, news reporter

Independent breweries have had an insanely tough year, so I like the idea of bringing them a little Christmas cheer. Get in the community spirit by hopping along to your local one. For me it’s Lucky Seven Beer Co. in Hay-on-Wye, or for the last word in sustainable supping, check out Gipsy Hill Brewery’s world-first, carbon-negative beers, available from their tap room in south London only. From £3.60, lucky7beer.co.uk and gipsyhillbrew.com.

Image: Lucky Seven

Tea

Recommended by Iris Pase, production editor 

Time to spill the tea: I love the cold. I’m that person who – as the days get shorter and nights colder – revels in the crisp air and winter light. And what better way to warm up on a chilly day than with a cup of tea? My go-to has been Teatulia’s organic teas. Every sip is a (delicious) journey through ethically sourced and traceable ingredients, and the teas arrive at your doorstep in packaging that’s 91% compostable and recyclable. So, in every comforting cup, you’re not just savouring tea, you’re sipping on a commitment to sustainable and responsible practices. From £5.57; teatulia.com.

Image: Teatulia

Clothing and accessories

Long-sleeve tee

Cornwall-based Level Collective’s long sleeved T-shirt features a stylish, nature-inspired sun and palm leaf, symbolising calming ways and sunnier days ahead. Designs are screen printed by hand with water-based inks on fabric made from 100% organic virgin cotton – meaning no intensive fertilisers or harmful pesticides – and manufacturing partners are monitored to ensure safe, fair and ethical working conditions. £47; brotherswestand.com.

Image: Brothers We Stand

Swimming costume

Recommended by Pauline Milligan, COO

This gift combines two things I love: sea swimming and supporting female-owned local small businesses. Celebrating the wild swimming community of west Cornwall where I live, Mor Swimmy make swimwear that’s fun, inclusive and vibrant. I love how honest they’ve been about their eco journey – the challenges this throws up and inevitable compromises. Their swimsuits are high quality and made to order in ethical working conditions, so there’s no waste from overproduction or unsold stock. As this is slow fashion, be sure to order early to receive in time for Christmas – or contact them for a gift voucher and let your wild swimmer choose their own. Christmas Day dip optional.

£49.50; morswimmy.com.

Image: Mor Swimmy and 7th Rise

Comfy hoodie

Clirio’r Meddwl” is Welsh for “Clear your mind”, so this slouchy, oversized hoodie is a wearable reminder to get outside, connect with nature and find a little healing headspace. Luckily Wales is blessed with stunning wild spaces, not least the Wales Coast Path, which have teamed up with mental health charity Heads Above the Waves to create this collection. £50; hatw.co.uk.

Image: Heads Above the Waves

Denim-care spray

Hiut knows a thing or two about denim – its raw selvedge jeans are worn by everyone from Meghan Markle to the Arctic Monkeys, and when it comes to washing their slacks, it reckons less is more. We can’t imagine a Duchess letting her strides go stale, so Hiut suggest a between-wash refresh with this ylang ylang and orange blossom denim spray, by Attirecare. £17; huitdenim.co.uk.

Image: Atticare

Flax jacket

Recommended by Piers Tincknell, co-founder of Atomic Smash, web developer for Positive News

I am a huge advocate of slow fashion and making conscious clothing decisions, which is why I love the railway jacket by Flax London. It takes roughly 8,000 litres of water, including from irrigated sources, to grow 1kg of cotton. Flax, in contrast, grows solely from natural rainfall. It’s cosy, breathable, and includes free repairs from the Flax London team, which mean this jacket it set to last a lifetime. I look forward to passing it on when the time is right. It also comes in Santa red – perfect for the festive season. £280; Flax London.

Image: Flax London

Funky, reusable bag

Recommended by Emma and Stuart Hammersley of Give Up Art, Positive News’ design studio 

We love a bit of bag action here at Give Up Art. Kind Bags are great – they’re made from recycled plastic bottles that could otherwise have ended up in landfill or in the ocean, and come in different designs and colours. They’re also water-resistant and hold loads, too. We really love the designs that feature artist collaborations, particularly Amy Hastings’ Lucky Cat design. As well as shopping bags, Kind Bags make backpacks and weekend bags – all in a range of lovely patterns and colours. While its designs are really fun, this female-run company takes sustainability seriously, too – embracing slow, circular fashion and ethical manufacturing. £12; kindbag.co.

Image: Kind Bag

Gardening and outdoors

Camping stove

A surefire way to warm the chilliest of outdoor adventures, this stove is a light and compact take on the storm kettle’s classic, double-walled design. Just like its sturdy workwear, Yorkshire-based HebTroCo’s stoves are made right here in the UK. Hard anodised for a luxurious finish, they weigh little more than a gas canister, but rather than running on filthy fossil fuels, they use scavenged twigs, pine cones and dry grass. £57.50; hebtro.co.

Image: HebTroCo

Bird nester

A warm roosting place in the depths of winter, a safe nesting spot in the spring. Either way this elegant, teardrop-shaped bird nester offers a safe perch for garden birds, and is easily sited among natural leaf cover. Besides giving a bird safe harbour, you’ll be backing artisan workers in Bangladesh, who craft these nesters from native hogla grass and recycled saris. £17.99; thewildlifecommunity.co.uk.

Image: Wildlife World

Seedball for pollinators

A foolproof way to grow wildflowers from scratch. These tins contain 20 seedballs, each with 30 seeds bound in clay, plus compost to give them a head start and chilli powder to deter insect scavengers. The Woodland Trust has seedballs to support birds and butterflies, but this one is perfect for pollinators, with a mix of wild marjoram, foxglove, chamomile and corn marigold. £6.50; shop.woodlandtrust.org.uk.

Image: Woodland Trust 

Mapping gift card

Beloved by outdoor adventurers and armchair explorers alike, Ordnance Survey’s maps are a design classic, and their digital version – available on apps and desktops – brings the UK’s most detailed leisure mapping to your fingertips. A premium subscription is a steal right now at just £25 and covers the whole of Great Britain. It’s available for the first time this year as an elegant gift card. £25; shop.ordancesurvey.org.uk. 

Image: Ordnance Survey

Gardener's calendar

Make 2024 a right blooming adventure with this plantable calendar. Besides key gardening dates and handy tips, each month comes with a new sheet of seed paper embedded with the seeds of a certified organic heirloom variety. Alongside edible classics like chillies and tomatoes are flowers such as poppies, bringing a vibrant splash of colour to any balcony, window box or garden. £23.69; uk.plantura.garden.

Image: Plantura 

Glamping gift card

Recommended by Nicola Ng, customer and community liaison 

As someone who is passionate about nature and always on the lookout for new adventures, I’ve selected a gift focused on meaningful experiences that cultivate a deep connection with the outdoors: the Canopy & Stars gift voucher! The B Corp-certified glamping provider specialise in outstanding outdoor getaways, offering a chance to escape the everyday with stays in unique treehouses, cosy yurts and other nature-inspired accommodations. These distinct experiences promise to create lasting memories in truly extraordinary settings. What more could someone wish for? From £10; canopyandstars.co.uk.

Image: Canopy & Stars 

Home and pets

Ceramic mug

Laura Lane crafts ceramics inspired by the folklore, fishermen, boats and ocean of her native Cornish coast. If she’s not near or on the sea, she’s in it. With its real gold scalloped edge, this mug is just the ticket for a slightly indulgent morning brew. It’s hand-thrown and made from Cornish stoneware clay quarried from a pit on the clifftops of St Agnes. £38; holly.co.

Image: Laura Lane Ceramics

Pencil case

Sewing Bee supremo Patrick Grant set up Community Clothing with a mission to revive Britain’s threadbare textile industry. True to his word, it uses only the finest quality materials and has created over a quarter of a million hours of skilled work right here in the UK, not least for the working mums who fashion these neat pencil cases from deadstock fabric. £12; communityclothing.co.uk.

Image: Community Clothing 

Cool coasters

Finally an excuse to bring old bike bits into the house! Cycle and Recycle’s coasters are handmade from old bike chain links set in resin. Each one is unique and a percentage of profits go to Cyclists Fighting Cancer, a charity gifting bikes to young people dealing with cancer. £12; cycleandrecyle.co.uk.

Image: Cycle and Recycle 

Dog bone

Time to swap out your pooch’s plastic toys for a sustainable alternative. GoodWood’s chews are made from coffee wood discarded by Colombian coffee plantations and, unlike softwoods, their tightly bound fibres mean they shouldn’t splinter. Chewing busts stress and helps keep doggy teeth clean, making for happy Christmas hounds. £4.99; petsoftheearth.com.

Image: Pets of the Earth 

Greeting cards made from recovered plastic

Helping turn the tide on plastic waste, Washed Up Cards repurpose the spoils of beach cleans to create beautiful handmade cards spreading messages of goodwill and care for the planet. No two cards are ever the same, and they come in unique upcycled packaging. Buying one supports maker Flora Blathwayt in beach cleans across the UK while raising awareness of the scourge of plastic pollution. £4.99; washedupcards.uk.

Image: Washed Up Cards 

Books and media

Positive News Christmas gift subscription

Packed with uplifting stories about the things that are going right in the world, Positive News magazine is a perspective-shifting present that challenges the negative news cycle. Recipients of our gift subscriptions receive four copies of our certified carbon neutral magazine throughout the year, plus a free copy of the current issue for Christmas. £30; positive.news/christmas

Image: Positive News

BBC Maestro subscription

Recommended by Seán Wood, CEO

Without wanting to distract you from the most inspiring gift subscription around (Positive News magazine), access to the BBC’s new educational streaming platform, BBC Maestro, could be ideal for someone who loves learning. Courses on topics such as wellbeing, cooking, business, and music, are presented by popular names such as entrepreneur Steven Bartlett and poet Carol Ann Duffy. I like that it’s high quality video, expert voices and a clear format, with no other clutter. Perhaps too mainstream for some, for others it will be a welcome antithesis to the noisy ‘advice’ elsewhere. Gift annual access to the whole platform or lifetime access to a single course, with 40% off before Christmas. £72 for one year; bbcmaestro.com.

Image: Brooke Cagle 

Poetry Pharmacy virtual consultation

Poetic remedies for all manner of emotional ailments! Never underestimate the restorative power of a few wisely chosen words, woven into lines of verse. After a remote consultation with a poetry pharmacist, your giftee gets a hardback copy of The Emergency Poet, an anti-stress anthology, plus relevant poems handpicked for their specific needs. A gift that is both uplifting and profound. £50; poetrypharmacypack.co.uk.

Image: Deborah Alma

Positively Green by Sarah LaBrecque

Get your sustainable New Year resolutions off to a cracking start with a little help from our very own partnerships editor, Sarah LaBrecque. Her book is packed full of advice for greener, cleaner living, and covers everything from food to fashion. Alongside tips on combating eco-dread, she also offers thought-provoking vignettes from leading academics and thinkers on how to face the climate crisis with positive action and optimistic realism. £9.99; positive.news.

Image: HarperCollins 

The Sea Soul Journal by Pippa Best

Another gift drawing on the Cornish coast, this book is full of empowering rituals and mindful practices to help harness the healing power of the ocean. Journal prompts and gorgeous colour photography guide the reader through four sea-inspired themes, including ‘self compassion’ and ‘letting go’, and the book comes with a suite of digital audio meditations. £15.99; seasoulblessings.com.

Image: Laura Evans

Our Fragile Moment by Michael Mann

Give the gift of hope this Christmas with climatologist Michael Mann’s book, Our Fragile Moment, a must-read for every global citizen. Mann not only reveals the conditions that have enabled humankind to thrive on planet Earth, but arms us with the knowledge to recognise the scale of the climate crisis – and emboldens us to act. We’re not doomed yet. Far from it, says Mann. £16.99; scribepublications.co.uk.

Image: Joshua Yospin

Children

 

Skin-tone crayons

Recommended by Sarah LaBrecque, partnerships editor 

My five-year-old daughter’s newest obsession is colouring. In keeping with her dad’s propensity for neatness, she diligently tries to stay within the lines and even recently got her school’s ‘gold book’ award for her take on Kandinsky’s concentric circles (cue two very proud parents!). Lately she has been experimenting with different freehand designs, from rainbows (a firm favourite), to stars, our house, and people with very long legs. We have a big bucket of different markers – crayons and pens in all manner of shades, except when it comes to skin tones. There the selection is decidedly slim. Which is why I plan to get her these crayons that come in an array of skin tone-like colours. I’m hoping they will spark an interesting conversation with her about the diverse rainbow that is the human race. £12.95; consciouscraft.uk.

Image: Conscious Craft 

Lego on loan

The groaning toy box gets a year off with this gift that keeps on giving, long after children and big kids have tired of their pressies. Brick Borrow rents out Lego sets from its library of projects – take as long as you need to build, then simply return and receive a new one in the post within a couple of days. From £9.99 per month; brickborrow.com.

Image: Brick Borrow 

 

Crafts and DIY

Stamp set

Recommended by Lucy Purdy, editor-in-chief

When I’m not editing magazines, I love to work with paper in other ways: drawing on it, cutting, folding it and using all the wonderful textures and colours of ‘waste’ paper in particular in new ways. (The beautiful patterns inside envelopes? Magic!) So I just can’t get enough of the patterned papers and other wares at Cambridge Imprint. Having a creative project on the go is such a joyful gift – one that boosts so many people’s wellbeing – so I’m hopeful of finding my stocking bulging with one of their Christmas printing block sets. I love the company’s obvious passion for design, and its thoughtful blog, the most recent entry of which reads: “We are being tossed on the horns of various storms, literally and metaphorically: comfort must be taken where it can.” For me, crafting is synonymous with Christmas – and with comfort too. £75; cambridgeimprint.co.uk.

Image: Cambridge Imprint 

Paper plant pot press

Perfect for anyone with green fingers who baulks at plastic, this nifty press makes crafting paper pots a cinch. It reduces waste by using up strips of old newspaper, and seedlings can be left in the biodegradable pots when it’s time to plant out, avoiding disturbing their delicate roots. Made in the UK from Forest Stewardship Council mix beech. £14.50; theconsciousgardener.co.uk.

Image: The Conscious Gardener 

Knitting kit

Recommended by Daisy Greenwell, features editor 

I suddenly have a desire to learn to knit, inspired by the weird enjoyment I’ve found in sewing on my kids’ Scout badges. I was fully expecting it to be a pain – especially since the flow of new badges seems to be endless – but I’ve come to actually enjoy it. Like Zadie Smith says, if you look at these everyday domestic tasks as an act of love for your family, they take on new meaning. And so I’ve asked my husband for a beginner’s knitting kit from Wool and the Gang for Christmas. It’s on a mission to inspire the next generation of makers, and kits come in an array of cool designs you’d actually want to wear. The wool is responsibly sourced, renewable and biodegradable, and incomprehensible knitting patterns have been transformed into easy step-by-step guides. The prospect of getting to grips with it is almost making me look forward to the barren days of January. £63; woolandthegang.com.

Image: Wool and the Gang

Tie-dye kit

Recommended by Gavin Haines, senior news and features editor 

We’re in the midst of a ‘90s revival so this DIY tie-dye kit feels oddly on-trend. I’ll buy it for my lad so we can give his spaghetti-stained T-shirts a psychedelic reboot while listening to Britpop and grunge. There is no pesky plastic in the kit, which supposedly uses ‘eco-friendly’ dyes. If you want to go really low impact, make your own dye using turmeric, beetroot and other ingredients you wouldn’t normally want anywhere near your clothes. Here’s a recipe. £15; etsy.com.

Image: Chloe Roxburgh/The Rogue Unicorn

Main image: Olha Pylypenko

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