It goes without saying that we start this with a caveat: times are tough at the moment, so please don’t spend money you can’t afford on Christmas. There are lots of suggestions out there for things you make cheaply and easily, from fruit garlands to wish jars. But if you do have money to spend on gifts for your nearest and dearest, there are a few ways you can make a difference. Buying gifts that will last for years to come, or are made of repurposed, recycled or reclaimed materials, cuts the carbon footprint of your gift and can help turn negative impacts into a positive. Buying locally also reduces the distribution miles of each gift you buy, and those fleets of vans dropping boxes door-to-door. And, of course, when you buy from an independent maker, your money’s more likely to stay in the local economy, having more of an impact on the place where you live.
As Becky at Paynter said to us when we interviewed them for the magazine: “Anyone who has the privilege of any disposable income at the moment has a duty to spread that around locally.”
Urbanears’ Boo & Boo Tip headphones – £69.99
Plastic gets a new musical life with these stylish Swedish headphones. The Boo is made from 97% recycled plastic, from the likes of bottles, aircon units and other plastic junk, and has 30 hours of battery life. You can listen to your favourite tunes and be responsible with the environment. So crank up the volume! (The Boo Tip has a snug silicon tip, too…)
Green Sense Aqua Care Square – £42.99
Need to go away for a few days and no one can water your plants? Keep calm, they’ll do okay with this pot and its 2.8 litres water reserve. And each pot is made from recycled materials and wind energy.
Dog lead hooks – £44
Every dog has its day! You can show your love for your pets with these hooks, home made in Bolton. They’re solid oak with a cast iron hook, and you can personalise them completely with the names of your quadrupeds.
Bamboo flask – £30
Made from sustainably sourced, organic bamboo, these 500ml thermos flasks come with a stainless steel lid, which doubles as your cup. Use it year round, as the double-walled container keeps drinks hot for ten hours – or chilled for 24.Get yours personalised – AND 10% of the profits go to the Marine Conservation Society, to support its work protecting marine habitats and campaigning against plastic pollution.
Eco Friendly Boxes (monthly subscription) – from £50
Different themes, one box. You can support local businesses and, at the same time, discover different things that’ll make you go gradually green, like plastic free dental, easy food reusables and greening your laundry routine. Take your pick from different monthly plans.
Lips tee – £29.95
Great design and a good purpose. Made from sustainably sourced material and a supporter of ‘Who made your clothes?’, all of the profits from this tee are given to African social businesses entrepreneurs working in rural communities in Mali, Ethiopia and the Gambia.
Blundstone x Finisterre boots – £160
A collaboration forged across the seas, Blundstone’s are the first fully vegan boots. Built with their trademark durable construction, is water resistant and has a high abrasion resistance for wherever the adventure takes you.
And then design worker bag – £153
Made out of cut offs and leftovers, this bag is perfect for taking with you all the things you want to. Its dimensions make it easy and practical to go with you anywhere you want to.
A selection for your stocking
Playin Choc woodland animal box – £2.25
A surprise, chocolate and fun! This creamy and organic chocolate comes with a 3D cardboard puzzle toy and a fun facts card to have a good time – and there are 18 to collect. Yum.
Bamboo tapered brush – £4
Made entirely out of bamboo and cruelty-free, this tapered make-up brush is super soft and ideal for use in your skin. And it’s durable, too, as bamboo is water-resistant – so less likely to shed its bristles.
Colour me crayons – £4.95
A whole palette of skin colours, Colour Me crayons celebrate diversity and, with their triangular shape, help children develop the correct pencil grip at the same time.
Dinosaurs – £3
Straight from Sri Lanka, here come the dinosaurs! There are 12 of these Fair Trade prehistoric play things to choose from. Brightly coloured with a beautiful wood grain edge, each one is unique and handcrafted by skilled artisans, from sustainably-sourced rubber wood and non-toxic paints.
Succeed recycled notebook a5 – £9.95
With a cover made out of cherry husk waste mixed with recycled paper, and recycled pages, this notebook is completely produced using 100% green energy. Give it a try and write things in a sustainable way!
Frankincense and tangerine soap – £5
Great fragrances are perfect for a bath. This soap has a fresh and woody one based on frankincense and tangerine. It’s also cruelty free, vegan, 70% organic and packed with shea butter to keep your skin silky smooth.
goSIP biodegradable rice husk coffee cup – £9.95
Rice husks get a second chance with this coffee cup made from 100% recycled material. The husks are a waste product from farming rice – but once recycled, they’re biodegradable. Using 70% less CO2 to produce than conventional tableware, you can help the environment and have a great cup of coffee at the same time!
Wings & Radicles Lip Balm – from £3.50
Save the bees and be bee-autiful at the same time! By buying this lip balm you’re helping the people from Wings and Radicles to sustain their apiary, fund their education programmes and contributing to protecting the bee population by supporting local biodiversity.
Foraging, cookery and lunch in Wirral – £70
Old Mother Nature’s recipes are the ones you’re going to learn while trying this experience. You’ll be able to collect, cook and taste food straight from nature. Past delicacies like wild garlic and mushroom rolls, elderflower Eton Mess and wild garlic pesto and greens gnocchi have got our taste buds tingling.
Half-day cookery class at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School (Cheshire) – £85
Try some green! With this half-day class you’ll learn how to cook proper plant-based recipes. Choose between ‘Learn how to make seitan’, making vegan cheese, an introduction to tofu or vegan street food, and use ethically-sourced delicious ingredients to create meals that you can recreate at your own kitchen. (https://www.virginexperiencedays.co.uk/product/half-day-vegan-class-at-the-vegetarian-society-cookery-school)
Zip trek and treetop nets for one at Treetop Trek – £50
Cross from one tree to another in this natural experience in the Manchester area. You can also enjoy a tremendously fun bounce in the trampoline canopies at Treetop Nets, which comprises trampolines with netted walls, slides, ball parks and tree houses.
Christmas tree planting in the Fylde dunes – free
Christmas trees deserve a second chance. You can bring yours to the Fylde dunes and help the environment by planting it again. You have from 30 January to 1 February to try this free and forward-looking activity.
Unseen tours – from £15
Walking tours of London, curated and led by people with experience of homelessness. Nobody will explain to you the life in the big city like a homeless person. You’ll learn first hand how life is on the streets through their own perspective, making it a totally new experience. Unseen Tours takes this model a step forward, by supporting vulnerable housed individuals to develop, curate, and lead guided walks to different neighbourhoods of London.
The Centre for Alternative Technology – free
Based at the foothills of Snowdonia, Europe’s leading eco centre researches and supports greener ways of living. With seven acres of interactive displays, eco-demonstration areas, organic gardens and family activities, here’s an alternative way for expending a weekend while learning.
Segway rally adventure for two (Tatton Park – Knutsford – Cheshire) – £69
Enjoy the experience of riding a segway through nature. You can drive as fast as you can while discovering the woods of Chesire and its beautiful sights.
Mere Sands Wood stargazing – £20
Discover the Milky Way with this experience in the Mere Sands Woods. Astronomers will guide you in this incredible trip through the constellations and, at the same time, will tell you about the need to protect the dark skies from the light pollution.
Liverpool suggestions for our local community
Shared Earth – Bold Street
This Bold Street shop sells a variety of wholesale gifts including home and fashion accessories, jewellery, cards and games from suppliers from around the world.
While not every product in-store is Fair Trade, Shared Earth buys products because of their eco credentials, when they’re happy that the supplier trades in an ethical manner.
A Slower Space – Penny Lane
An independent lifestyle store located on the iconic Penny Lane. Heavily influenced by the couples’ travels in Sri Lanka, Bali, Vietnam and Thailand, A Slower Space products include beautiful collections of carefully curated pieces that portray a relaxed lifestyle (think: gift cards, prints, candles…)
The Refill Cycle – Windsor Street
Ethical, vegan and sustainable home and beauty products to the doors of Liverpool. The products are delivered in glass decanters on its bicycle, helping to prevent single use plastic.
Merseyside – Paradise Street
A huge range of prints, gifts and cards made in Liverpool, from jewellery and candles to scarves and souvenirs. You can see some of the makers at work in their upstairs studios, or tuck into a tasty slice of cake in the café whilst you’re picking your prezzies.
The Art Quarter – Whitechapel
The Art Quarter Liverpool is a collective of (currently 13) artists from Liverpool and the Wirral. When you buy a piece of work from, you’re helping an individual independent business and supporting the local economy.
News from Nowhere radical and community bookshop – Bold Street
An enduring favourite, NFN stocks a host of spiritual, activism and environment books. The not-for-profit radical and community bookshop was established in 1974, and is still run collectively by a workers’ co-operative.
Childwall Emporium – Queens Drive
Childwall Emporium is a local independent gift shop located on the Childwall Fiveways roundabout on Queens Drive. Worth a visit if you rarely venture beyond the city centre to shop, inside you’ll find a wonderful collection of handmade gifts, products and artwork from talented local artists and crafters. Its selection includes great gifts, beautiful artwork and upcycled furniture.
Probe Records – School Lane
This independent record store has been a stalwart on the Liverpool scene since 1971. Its famous former staff include Petes Burns and Wylie, plus Julian Cope. Well worth a visit for any discerning music fan.