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The Ultimate Ethical Gift Guide

Posted by Melanie Fisher on
The Ultimate Ethical Gift Guide

Remind yourself, what great gifts there were last year with our 2018 Official Gift Guide Guide. Yes that’s right, we’ve gone meta – it’s a guide to the guides!

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. of course, these things are best shared – which is what we’re doing now.

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



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. Featuring an array of luxurious looking gifts, from homeware, to beauty, to some a-ma-zing scarves, all ethically handmade in the UK. Our favourite? The Izzy Lane wool scarf & Mitts set.


have pulled together a pretty comprehensive list of gift ideas that they’ve gleaned from exploring the world of ethical and sustainable fashion in 2018.

Each one of the suggestions on this list was chosen to help grown-ups and tiny humans connect with nature and each other, reduce waste, get creative, support ethical and sustainable brands and inspire ideas for positive change.

Our favourite (other than Y.O.U underwear of course) has to be the 100 questions game.


is the hybrid online & Brighton-based ethical boutique popup. Curated by Melissa, the founder, the guide is inspired by the range they carry in their own shop.

It’s undeniable that there is a passion to reverse the damage, change wasteful habits, give back more to those in need and support businesses which have a transparent and ethical reputation. I hope a circle back will make it easier for you to do this!

if you’re in need of something for the children, have a look at their book GIVE – from which 100% of profits will go to children’s hospital charities.


The lovely people at The Emperor’s Old Clothes have put together this awesome guide on all things local & independent. As they so eloquently put it:

Where would you rather spend your hard earned cash? On the high street where items are more often than not made overseas for a pittance from polluting materials or from smaller brands who champion the handmade by paying a living wage, support the development of their teams + consciously create their pieces to cause less harm to the environment??

Well, do we even need to answer?


It has taken me one and half hours to write this paragraph. I owe my thanks for this to Francesca of Ethical Unicorn, for two reasons:

  • Her very thorough gift guide, which features 60+ thematically grouped items, brands and ideas to suit just about everyone in your life. Including: the storyteller, the zero waster, the lover of quirky design, the luxurious friend, and the mini humans. We can vouch for her good taste too, given the list features the wonderful Gung Ho Design, and Little By Little.
  • Her even more thorough, rabbit-hole-esque ultimate beginners guide to ethical living. Which, while not Christmas themed, I couldn’t not encourage everyone to take a look at. It’s really, really good.

I strongly suggest setting an alarm before going to these guides.


Kate from Mi Apparel brings us two worthwhile guides to Christmas gifts – the first edit is their Top 20 Ethical Gift Guide. Aimed at the ethical lady, it features an array of cosy and stylish clothing, jewellery and bags.

Their second is the ever useful Ethical Gifts Under Thirty Five Pounds collection. And, while not overtly Christmas themed, certainly carries a broad range of items we can envision filling stockings. Or, better yet, gifted to someone who has yet to experience the outstanding quality offered by today’s ethical producers.


Ok, this is a bit of a stretch. But in the past few years we’ve been heading towards giving experiences over things. If your Christmas gift just happens to be planning (or booking) a holiday for later in the year, then be sure to consider one of their 10 best ethical holidays for 2019.

We’d pick Kenya, if we were so fortunate!

There’s also a more budget conscious list, if none of the pricier options take your fancy.

Elsewhere on the site there are plenty of resources to help increase the ethical score on any trip or experience you do go on next year – so it’s well worth keeping in mind. We’d also recommend these 7 broader Zero Waste Travel Tips  that can apply to any adventure you go on!


The purveyors of fierce slogan t-shirts for strong women have curated this list of 14 sustainable gift ideas for the fierce woman in your life. What’s more, they’re also offering the chance to win them too!

We’ve hand-picked an array of different gift ideas, all from brands we love which share our values. So this year you can spread the love and goodwill and all of that lovely stuff far and wide, by choosing gifts that can have a global impact.


Continuing further on the theme of gifting experiences we thoroughly recommend Box of Twelve, and the unique idea of gifting 12 experiences over the course of the next year that both you and the gift receiver share.

If you can’t commit to a full twelve, then even one or two will be gratefully received! And still create more than enough memories too. If you’re short of inspiration, there’s plenty available on their blog which you can check out here.


Yes, the Guardian has even had a go too! While these are not all zero-waste, the gifts in their ethical gift guide do seem to come from very worthwhile social enterprises. So it’s well worth checking out, including a nice cork yoga mat too. They also have a guide to the best bio-glitter too, just in case. (of course, we recommend Eco Glitter Fun, because we’re biased like that).


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.


Of course, no gift guide guide would be worth it’s Himalayan bath salts without mentioning Pebble mag. They’ve got guides galore – going beyond just gifts to guides about making Christmas about buying less (or not at all), buying sustainable trees, as well as guides to DIY plastic-free replacements and making sustainable decorations.

If you’re looking for something a bit special, then they’ve got a handy guide to ethical gold jewellery (a companion to their winter jewellery guide, no doubt). And of course, there is their ultimate ethical gift guide. Our favourite from that has to be the bee saving kit – save the bees!

Need more inspiration? Well, it just so happens they also have a stocking gift guide (our favourite: gin. Because gin.) and a guide to ethical gifts under £30.

If you can’t find a gift in any of that, then check out their December Lust List of 25 more ideas – one for every day of December until Christmas! It also includes our faves Ivywake and Food at Heart.


Bryanna from the Ecological has also put together two comprehensive (& awesome) guides for this year. We missed the first (to our shame) because it was launched a full 50 DAYS (50!) before Christmas. Bryanna may be more keen than us! It’s 100% dedicated to natural beauty brands, so we suspect it’ll remain useful long after Christmas is over. You can find it here.

What sort of ultimate gift guide guide would this be if we didn’t include The Ecological’s Ultimate Ethical Christmas Gift Guide. With a large number of items grouped thematically (i.e. ‘The Student’, ‘The Chef’, ‘The Traveler’) it is an excellent source for ideas.


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!


With all those gifts, you’re going to need a way to wrap them! There are plenty of oft-quoted wrapping paper stats that just boggle the mind. Not least because much of it can’t be recycled too! That’s why we’ve saved this ethical wrapping guide by From Britain with Love. Of course, we couldn’t talk about wrapping paper without mentioning AgnesLDN(who will be at the market). And don’t forget, the Post Office also sells recycled wrapping paper too!


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 consulting this guide by Zero Waste Near Me. And, of course, we’ll be getting our veg from OddBox.


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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