Best eco friendly gifts for Christmas 2021
Looking for an environmentally friendly present for a special person? Whether it’s fairly traded, ethically made, recycled, vegan or cruelty free, here’s our guide to the best sustainable gifts for Christmas 2021 and beyond.
The term 'eco friendly' is a tricky one to navigate these days. A recent survey by Deloitte found that 34% of us are now choosing to buy from brands that have environmentally sustainable practices or values. With brands rushing to scrape together the greenest elements of their businesses and put them at the fore of their marketing, greenwashing has increased – with 40% of companies making misleading sustainability claims. The government has issued a new Green Claims Code, which it's planning to begin enforcing in 2022. But in the meantime, how do you know who is really championing sustainable practices?
It's hard enough squeezing in the Christmas shopping during lunch breaks and trips into town – especially if you're working from home for half the week and don't have the opportunity. So we've spent some time creating this eco gift guide, which contains products that are either fairly traded, ethically made, recycled, vegan, cruelty free or which support conservation or green causes.
Whoever you're buying for, here’s our guide to the best sustainable gifts for Christmas 2021 and beyond.
You might also like to see our Best gifts for walkers: 15 top presents for hikers, our 35 best gift ideas for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers or 10 great gifts for bird lovers.
BBC Countryfile Magazine Eco Gift Guide 2021
Fjällräven Övik Knit Sweater W
This beautiful Fair Isle patterned wool jumper from Swedish brand Fjällräven is extremely warm and makes a perfect mid-layer garment. And when your great-grandchildren decide it's become too shabby to wear, it's fully biodegradable as well. The wool it uses to produce this jumper is traceable and in line with the brand's animal welfare standards – which means that horrible practices such as 'mulesing' are completely ruled out. In fact, Fjällräven has a 'wool promise' that spells out the measures it's taking, as well as a 'down promise' that relates to the feathers used in its winter down jackets.
National Trust Recycled Paper British Hedgerow Garland
While tinsel may bring sparkle to a room, it also brings environmental consequences. String up this pretty, hand-printed paper hedgerow garland for a splash of vivid colour instead. It's made from recycled paper, created from scraps of cotton waste, and with careful storage could be used every year.
The vintage-styled garland has ten double sided shapes of different hedgerow animals and plants, including robins, holly, snowdrops, poppy seed heads and berries. It brings a touch of class to any living room ceiling, especially intertwined with LED lights.
- Buy now from National Trust (RRP from £12)
Furoshiki wrapping cloth
'It'll never take off over here', they said – and now it arguably has. More and more companies are offering the chance to gift wrap items in cloth gift wrap, or 'Furoshiki' as it is known in Japan. And this year, it's more widely available than ever in the UK.
Forward-thinking eco brand Lush has offered organic cloth gift wrap as an option at checkout for years and is this year offering some lovely vintage patterns alongside the more psychedelic colourways. Kids and family clothing company Frugi has this year brought out a lovely Christmas design that kids will love, Anthropologie has a delightful range and a brief search on Etsy will bring you rich pickings. But really, all you need is some spare fabric and a little tutorial on wrapping techniques. Here's one from Pointful Things.
Love Liga Beach Clean coasters and placemats
These colourful coasters and placemats are made from recycled EVA plastics and eco-friendly cork, and a percentage of sales goes to Sea-Changers, a UK Marine Conservation charity.
- Buy now from Love Liga (RRP from £12)
Simon King Brushwood Robin Nester
Robins are famous for nesting in unlikely places, such as in boots and hanging baskets, and under car bonnets. But this open-fronted nester has been designed by naturalist Simon King just for the resourceful birds.
Hide it in any foliage where the robin will feel safe, and you may be lucky enough to see a clutch of 4-6 eggs in the spring.
Weird Fish Tyburn eco printed check fleece shacket
This comfortable, warm and attractive ‘shacket’ is part of Weird Fish's range of 100% recycled polyester clothing. It's surprisingly soft, with a warm fluffy lining, and comes in a range of colours – including this attractive new antique cherry. Great for warmer winter days, and comfy – and light – enough to wear indoors all day.
- Buy now from Weird Fish (RRP
Goldrick Natural Living Wild Herbs Paper Tape
Make your gift wrapping completely plastic free with this plant-inspired Wild Herbs paper tape. Fully recyclable and ethically made using water-soluble inks, this pretty tape is strong and durable.
- Buy now from Goldrick Natural Living (RRP from £8)
RSPB Leaping Hare recycled crackers
Bring a touch of colour to your festive table with these eco-friendly crackers made from recycled wrapping paper. Each cracker includes a tasty organic-chocolate bird, a paper hat and, of course, a joke. Every element is fully recyclable, including the box, and of course, your money will go towards the RSPB.
- Buy now from RSPB (RRP from £15)
Send a Cow, Garden Together – twin a garden
Twin your garden with Send a Cow and your donation of £60 could help a family living in rural Migori, Kenya, with three years training in sustainable organic farming. Starting with small kitchen gardens, twinning a garden will enable families to grow enough to eat, set up small businesses, send their children to school and go after their dreams. Plus, you’ll receive a sustainable wooden plaque to show off in your garden, a vegetable growing guide from no-dig guru Charles Dowding and some wildflower seeds to get you started on your Garden Together adventure.
- Buy now from Send a Cow (£60)
BAM 73 Zero Insulated Jacket
This high-performing polyester jacket is 100% recycled and recyclable, and finished with Teflon EcoElite™ – a new plant-based water repellent. What's more, it's an excellent midlayer for the coldest weeks in the winter, and warm enough to be worn on its own at either end of the season. The hood is a snug fit against the face, with adjustable toggles to keep the rain and cold wind firmly out. There are men's and women's jackets available in a range of colours.
- Buy now from BAM Bamboo Clothing (RRP from £165)
National Trust CJ Wildlife Glamis Bat Box
For those who love nature, one of the greatest pleasures of a warm summer evening is being able to sit quietly and watch the bats fling themselves around as the sun sets. Increasingly, however, these important little creatures are running out of roosting spots, as loss of habitat and exclusion from new developments threatens their numbers. Gardens and green spaces are important territory for bats, and putting up a bat box gives them a safe place to roost and raise their young. They'll thank you by swooping in on mosquitoes and other unwelcome flying insects in your garden – up to 3,000 a night. And of course, putting on an aerial display in the process.
The National Trust Glamis Bat Box has been expertly designed with an easy entry point and a grooved ladder entrance. Be sure to choose your spot carefully: bats are a protected species and once a bat box is up, it cannot be removed without a license. For more information on bats and the law, call the Wildlife Trusts' Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228.
- Buy now from National Trust (RRP from £8)
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Beevive revival kit
We've all been there. There's a bee in front of you on the ground, too tired to fly away and there are no flowers around to place it onto so it can fuel up again. This is the story that the founders of Beevive relate in their invention of the rather genius little Bee Revival Kit. It's a tiny aluminium tube that holds a small glass vial containing sugar syrup, which can be used to help a bee in distress. It comes in either black or gold, with a keyring attachment, and makes a gorgeous stocking filler for the naturalist in your life.
- Buy now from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (RRP from £10.95)
Ocean Plastic Pots flower pots and saucers
Ocean Plastic Pots was founded in 2020 by deep sea diver Ally Mitchell from his home in Glasgow. The inspiration came from years of commercial diving in plastic-polluted waters around the world, and seeing first-hand the devastating effects of plastic in the seas. Having taught himself basic manufacturing, Mitchell began to scour his local beaches for discarded plastic, fishing nets and rope to make flower pots, which he sold at a local food market in Edinburgh before it took off and increased to a national scale. Ocean Plastic Pots won the RHS Chelsea Sustainable Garden Product of the Year 2021 for its
39 Ways To Save The Planet
Based on the Royal Geographical Society’s BBC Radio 4 series of the same name, Tom Heap’s book looks at a whole range of original and practical notions for slowing global warming. Covering everything from energy, nature, farming and society to transport, buildings, industry and waste, each carbon-busting idea also comes with its own list of fringe benefits such as cleaner air, improved animal welfare and job provision.
Some of my favourite innovations were the simplest, such as using gravity to store energy by lifting and lowering immense blocks of iron ore in mine shafts. However, there were quite a few surprises here too. Who knew that paddy fields emitted so much methane? The solution could apparently be a new form of rice that grows in ordinary fields.
Tanya Jackson is the acting group digital editor of countryfile.com and discoverwildlife.com. Her parents had a pet shop when she was growing up, so she learnt very young how intelligent rats are and why you don’t stick your hands near the beak of a cockatoo. She loves camping, hiking and watching the red kites soar over the Wiltshire hills.