How To Gift Green This Christmas

For many, a favourite part of Christmas is the joy of giving and receiving gifts, however, at the same time this comes with its own pressures too. Shopping green is challenging at the best of times, and it can be difficult to navigate the minefield of Christmas shopping lists whilst trying to remain ethical.

I have provided some tips below in an effort to maintain the Christmas spirit of giving, whilst at the same time removing some of the holiday eco-angst.


Gift less

One of the best ways you can reduce the environmental impacts of Christmas gifts is simply by gifting less. While it can always be tempting to shower loved ones with presents, the reality is that not all gifts will be appreciated and there will inevitably be some waste. Experts estimate that each year, consumers spend around £700 million on unwanted presents. By limiting the number of gifts, you give, you also get the opportunity to give presents that are more meaningful, with more thought behind them- gifting less doesn’t need to mean giving less!



In the same vein, another step we shouldn’t be afraid of making is regifting. We’ve all been there. For me, one memory that always stands out is a confusing pair of pliers I received from my Mum at age 16. Whilst we all know the score on acting grateful when unwrapping those unwanted presents, it can be a challenge finding a use for them. To this day I still don’t know what I would use a pair of pliers for. This doesn’t mean that a home for these gifts doesn’t exist though – that book you’ve already read might be perfect for someone else.


Buy used

In a similar nature to re-gifting, if you have no unwanted gifts of your own to repurpose, a look in the charity shop or other second-hand shops can be a great way to re-use unwanted items and donate to a charitable cause. Whilst it may at times feel like you’re looking through more junk than treasure, there will always be that old record that would be ideal for your Dad, the pre-loved family favourite board games, or that hidden gem of a vintage accessory.


Gifts for Kids

Christmas shopping for kids can be tricky, especially when browsing for toys, as it can quickly leave you feeling like you’re drowning in a sea of plastic. Parents may be familiar with the infamous ‘LOL surprise’ toys that have been all the rage at Christmas for the last few years – a pass the parcel type toy with layers and layers of plastic wrapping to unwrap. Fortunately, the company have recently launched a recycling program - a good example of how companies are becoming more climate conscious, however it’s debatable how effective this program is.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; instead of wrapping up the latest Lego set or Action Man, why not explore the wooden or organic toys available out there. There are heaps of beautiful natural wooden pieces that can challenge a child’s imagination as much as their plastic alternatives. Alternatively, to avoid adding to the pile of toys that may inevitably become unused by Easter, you could gift a subscription to a toy library. Companies like Whirli allow a child to keep a toy for as long as they want, and then when they’re ready to move on to something else you can send back that toy, swapping it for something new. This can be a really great way to have age-appropriate toys for children whilst not filling the house (or the bin!). Or why not get them a membership; WWF, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts all offer great kids packages with an educational aim.



Saving the best for last; chocolate. Other than giving, the true spirit of Christmas may be chocolate.  Keeping ethical with chocolate isn’t easy though with the industry plagued with significant issues of child labour, poverty and environmental damage. Whilst companies are making attempts to confront these issues through things like cocoa certification, the reality is that these don’t yet go far enough, with most cocoa farms being too small to certify individually. That being said, it doesn’t mean that cocoa certification isn’t achieving anything; it is still making a difference, even if it’s a small one. The two main certification schemes are currently Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, so it is worth keeping an eye out for these on the label when buying your Christmas chocolate. Fairtrade is generally considered to be the more robust certification scheme.

Written by Hugh Austin




All information quoted is obtained from sources which we believe to be accurate at the time of publication, but may be subject to change. We therefore cannot be held responsible for the implications of relying on this information.