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The Ultimate Ethical Guide To The Guides 2021

Posted by Melanie Fisher on
The Ultimate Ethical Guide To The Guides 2021

It's amazing how quickly we're starting to see sustainable gift guides pop up. From 2018 when I started this business to now, my inbox has swelled with businesses sharing their knowledge on where to shop. 

The plethora of gift guides for sustainable brands and better alternatives is truly eye-opening, and gratifying to see. We’ve gone from not knowing where to find the eco-conscious gift options exist to being overwhelmed by them!

This is an excellent problem to have. But still, to try and make this information more manageable, we started making a list for ourselves. 

It’s by no means exhaustive, or complete. we will keep adding to it when we find new guides. If you know of a guide you think should be included, please get in touch to let us know!

Otherwise, we hope this helps you to choose well and buy better.

Happy gifting! x


Whilst it might seem an unusual one to start off with, we absolutely love this guide as it's packed full of ideas from across the spectrum. Plus, edible gifts - when sourced from sustainable and ethical growers, is a fantastic way to send your best wishes with zero waste. Read it here.



It’s always good to support home-grown businesses, especially when you know there are no enormous air miles attached! So let’s start local, with the guide at From Britain With Love, especially for gardeners that has been handmadeWe particularly love the garden photography classes from Éva, for anyone who would enjoy learning to appreciate their garden even further. Plus their 2019 guide for women has some fantastic brands in too that are still worth a scour!




If you've not heard of Social Supermarket, you're welcome. They source products from social enterprises and quantify their impact as they go. Whilst not all of  their range is plastic free, so do check, all their brands are committed to high environmental and social standards, so you'll still be doing a lot of good if you decide to purchase from them.

This new parent's gift guide is absolutely fabulous, plus their 2020 Guide is still packed full of ideas and we'll update this post once they release 2021. 


Have pulled together a pretty comprehensive list of gift ideas that they’ve gleaned from exploring the world of ethical and sustainable fashion. There are some firm favourites on there as well as new brands with excellent eco-products that don't even look 'eco'. 



The lovely people at The Emperor’s Old Clothes have put together this awesome 2021 sustainable gift guide for all gifts local & independent. They've compiled a wonderful selection of local talent and are ensuring they champion small brands.

"Year two of the pandemic has been as tough if not tougher than 2020, and it is vital that we continue to support businesses that pay a living wage and support their team all-year round. Whether that’s focusing on their personal development, encouraging creativity and expanding on their current skill-set – these are the individuals and businesses we believe need our support. "⁠

We couldn't agree more. 


Ethical Unicorn, run by Francesca is a fantastic critique of some of our core challenges and opportunities when fighting back against climate change. She covers all sorts of topics and has written a lovely plastic-free gift guide, including some of our personal fave brands: Agnes LDN and Tabatha Eve.


You can't do a guide to the guides without mentioning Pebble. Georgina started up in 2018 and hasn't looked back; expanding her journalism to cover a wide range of sustainable home & living topics as well as launching a Christmas market of her own. We think they've got some crackers on their 2021 gift guide, what do you think?



The Friendly Turtle not only has a cute name, inspired in part to the awful images of turtles with plastic straws up their noses, but they also have an incredible curated website of products committed to positive social and environmental change in many ways. We think their sustainable gift guide for eco-warriors 2021 is packed full of juicy gems you can buy safe in the knowledge they're good for people and planet. 


Because sometimes, we just need a bit of good news. Good Things Gifts describe their work so eloquently:

Good Things seeks out inspiring ethical and sustainable gifts that support charities, empower people and protect our planet. Then we make it easy for you to find them in our online shop. 

We love their children's gift guide. Shopping for kids is always hard thanks to the plastic-wielding, advert-mongering plethora of brands out there targeting our young people. So, here's their edit of green alternatives. 




Stumbling across this gorgeous edit is truly a delight. A personal blog of a mother-turned eco-advocate who was awakened - like a lot of us - by a hard hitting documentary. Megan says "This led me on a wild journey, opening up a can of worms where I started looking into what other areas of my life, out of habit, I had turned a blind eye to and needed addressing." Her blog is beautiful and focused around home, fashion and children.

Check our her top picks, on her ethical and low waste gift guide 2021.



If the person you’re buying for is set on gifts that are made by larger (read: less ethical) corporations, don’t despair! You can always mitigate this by ordering from the lesser of the ‘evils’ (note, we know they’re not all evil). To help you with this we highly recommend you follow the Good Shopping Guide – it’s a pretty comprehensive, categorised ranking of businesses, and should come in handy when making your buying decisions.


After browsing through the copious options in this guide, we wonder whether it's even worth doing our own! My lordy is this is the ultimate holiday gift guide for finding unique ethical & sustainable gifts. Emily describes herself as 'an anxious creative' who advocates for sustainability and communities.

In her gift guide consumers will discover fair trade fashion, sustainable tech accessories, gifts that give back to various causes, ethical jewellery, unique gift sets, eco-friendly toys for kids, and more. We are impressed and will know you'll love this guide. 


It’s fair to say Lindsay Miles knows a thing or two about being Zero Waste! Her self-proclaimed so-low-key-you-wouldn’t-actually-know-it-was-Christmas approach is certainly a way to balance our normal tendencies here at ZWG. It’s why we often return to her Christmas guide and include it here when it’s less guide to actual gifts, more guide to the choices you make overall.

If Christmas is your thing, but not putting too much stuff in the bin is also your thing, there are plenty of solutions.

Hooray! In amongst the 30+ ideas are a few gifting ones we can really get behind (experiences, books and donations).


The aim?

Spread the seasonal cheer this Christmas simply by buying your presents from social enterprises – businesses that have a social or environmental mission at their heart.

The method? An interactive guide featuring a range of wonderful gifts from UK social enterprises.

Our favourites? The indulgence section, of course. And Toast Ale!

It even has sound effects….This guide is slick!


We do find ourselves ordering the food online at this time of year, when we’re pressed for time and somewhat unwilling to navigate the inflated crowds on the streets. Some argue that it can be more environmentally friendly too (in that it saves the CO2 from many individual journeys, and if the packaging is recyclable & minimal). So when we do end up ordering online, we’ll be getting our veg from OddBox or Abel & Cole. Or, we've discovered Forrist - the UK's first plastic-free supermarket. They're coming to our Zero Waste Christmas Market on the 28th of November, so if you're in London do come! Else pop them a visit online and why not order one of their gift boxes too?


MSE has an article on how to do good at Christmas which is excellent to see, given their reach. It has some great ideas about donating time, money, even blood! But we doubt many would be thrilled to wake up on Christmas morning with a voucher volunteering a pint of their own!

We jest, of course.

But within the guide is a section on giving charitable gifts – with 12 examples of how to do so. And that is something we can certainly get behind.

From bog building, to goat gifting, to mosquito netting. There’s plenty of valuable ways to give back that’ll leave you with a nice warm glow. Couple this with buying gifts from independent producers who also donate some of their profits and you’ll be a gift-giving-giving-back machine!

Still need ideas?

If you’ve found a guide you think we should include, feel free to let us know! Ethical is great, but zero waste is even better!

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