6 Planet-Friendly Christmas Present Ideas

Jess Commons

In 1963, Andy Williams famously sang that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s hard to disagree; the cold weather and long nights give us all the perfect excuse to gorge ourselves on mince pies, decorate everything in sight and spend evenings cuddled up with the ones we love. On the other hand, we’re expected to buy gifts because, capitalism. So how do we show how much we care without feeding into a system of overconsumption?

The trouble is, buying any object only adds to the problem. It's all very well buying your mate a reusable water bottle or a KeepCup but if they've already got one, they're just going to chuck the old one out before they start using the new one and so the landfill problem continues.

So this year, when it comes to sustainable gifts, it's time to get really inventive. Click through for our picks of the best ways to spread Christmas cheer and not leave too much of an impact on the planet.

For The Cook

Food wastage is responsible for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Plus, I don't know about you but most of the veg at my local supermarket comes wrapped in that crinkly plastic that you can't recycle. Oddbox rescues the misshapen veg that would otherwise be thrown out, and saves the person you gift the subscription to from doing a weekly shop and from buying unnecessary packaging.

Odd Box Odd Box Subscription, $, available at Odd Box
For The Parent

Out of all the 'give to charity' presents (think, 'buy a goat for a village'), the Build A Bog from WaterAid is likely to be the best received in lieu of an actual present. Because it's toilet related, it tends to get a laugh, and people who are laughing can't be mad. Seventy-two pence of every £1 donated to WaterAid for this present goes to the people who the charity aims to help, 27p goes on fundraising and 1p goes to running the company.

WaterAid Build A Bog, $, available at WaterAid
For The Image-Conscious Millennial

You can't give someone toilet paper for Christmas, Karen.

Well, actually you can. This nicely wrapped stuff is popping up in bathrooms in chic restaurants and bars all over the country so it's practically the same as buying someone Aesop soap. Who Gives A Crap donates 50% of its proceeds to improving hygiene conditions in developing countries. Also, its toilet paper is 100% recycled and, because everyone needs toilet paper, it'll actually get used up.

Who Gives A Crap Who Gives A Crap Toilet Paper, $, available at Who Gives A Crap
For The Gardener

You've probably heard a lot of stories about countries pledging to plant millions of trees (Ethiopia recently got 23 million people to plant trees in one day – they reckon 350 million trees were planted!). And it's for good reason. Deforestation is happening at an alarming rate, and trees are our real life organic filters against a growing amount of pollution in the air. So give someone a tree that they can plant themselves – only if they have space in the garden obvs. Oak trees are particularly good as they suit the British climate and can be home to up to 280 different types of insects.

Oak Tree, $, available at
For The Meat-Free Monday-er

Cutting out animal products is hard. We all know that the meat industry is hugely damaging to the world thanks to its super heavy carbon footprint. Giving the gift of cash to spend at an online supermarket that doesn't stock any animal products might help someone struggling to cut down on meat to find new products, meals or snacks that help them on their way. TheVeganKind also has a careful policy when it comes to packaging and offsetting delivery carbon emissions.

the vegan kind The Vegan Kind Supermarket Gift Card, $, available at the vegan kind
For The Interiors Queen

Rehash Trash is a brilliant company in that not only are its products made out of trash that would otherwise go into landfill in Cambodia, it also gives paid jobs to disadvantaged women. Many of the mothers suffer from disabilities, addictions and other symptoms of poverty and abuse. That's a sustainable present and a socially conscious one.

Rehash Trash Up-Cycled Basket, $, available at Frank.ly

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