Yup, we’re nearing that time of year again already! and it’s gone faster than ever (does that carry on speeding up as you age?) The thought of how quick this year has flown by is almost panic inducing – like many people find Christmas shopping! For those of you who are stumped for gifts, I’ve put together a gift guide of all my favourite gifts from ‘kind’ companies – by ‘kind’, I’m looking at low waste, zero waste, hand made, sustainable, natural, vegan, cruelty free, plastic free and local independents to put your money somewhere that says something positive, switching disposables for better quality and longer lasting reusables. Living more kindly is not about going without but just about making simple swaps that I believe often result in improvements in your lifestyle. Shopping more mindfully, keeping potential waste in mind and trying to limit that – after all, we all know that taking the bins out is one of the WORST chores at home so…what better way to fix that than by putting less in the bin in the first place?!
Without further ado – here are some of my favourite bits and pieces!
I was lucky enough to be gifted a few things from Colony Co and, since using them, I have received so many compliments on these bags – even when they’re just laying around the house. No need to tuck them away in a cupboard like the dreaded bag-for-life, they are totally stylish enough to be left out on display. They’re waxed canvas so wipe clean and proper sturdy so they stay standing up and don’t tip your shopping everywhere. I especially love the brand new dark tote as it has extra handles and fits SO MUCH in it (absolutely perfect for heading down to Hoxton Bakehouse to stock up on sourdough loaves)
I’ve seen that they are now also stocked on Amazon so depending on where you live that might be cheaper than buying directly through the website. The totes are around $30/£40 but the lunch bag pictured is cheaper…I love it, it looks just like a cute paper bag from the movies but way more practical, a great every day item for anyone.
I particularly love this review I saw on Amazon:
These are very cute and oh-so-Instagram – they’re also really lightweight so they’re perfect for scrunching up in the bottom of your every-day-bag so you always have something on hand! The holes are actually really useful, particularly for anything that likes to poke through and tear the usual rubbish plastic bags…but mostly they just look awesome. I was gifted these ones from MadeSustained with a set of bulk bags. I’ve found a bunch of their stuff on Watson and Pratts where the bags are only £3.50-£3.95.
As a practical Christmas gift, there’s nothing better in the current climate than a reusable water bottle – it’s the easiest thing you can do to feel like you’re at least trying to make a difference AND save loads of money on picking up bottles of water when out and about, on your lunch break or headed to the gym. One of these bottles is what you should be drinking a day (around 2.2L) so I’ve found it’s perfect for having on my desk at work, or even taking out in the car with my to refill a smaller bottle. It has a built in handle, so it’s easily carried around and I always take it to the gym with me to rehydrate as I go. The bottles are BPA & DEHP free, 100% Recyclable and retail from £11.99 – I was kindly gifted a set from The Big Bottle Co including a bottle brush (super handy) and a high grade silicon ice cube tray that I absolutely love. It’s shaped to make long ice cubes that will fit in the neck of almost any bottle easy peasy, great for the summer. The sets are currently on sale for £21.98 on the website which is great value if you are spending a little bit more on this gift.
Made Sustained also make some really stylish reusable glass bottles and lots of other nifty things, like this metal straw set. You get a couple of straight straws, a couple with a bend at the top and a teeny weeny little brush to keep them clean! It might be best to google this product to find the best place to buy!
Eco-Kiddles seem to change their designs really regularly so I can’t see this exact one right now but there are plenty of others – including lots of limited edition Christmas themed ones and if there’s one time of the year when there’s a lot of food waste that needs covering, it’s Christmas. In the future I see myself no longer struggling with tangled cling film (wasteful plastic that just ends up binned!) and, instead, smaller things can just be wrapped up using these vegan friendly soya wraps! Perfect for covering plates – plus, they looks nicer. I was kindly gifted these Banana Leaf Print Wraps from Eco Green Revolution who are an awesome one-stop-shop for loads of independent and zero waste brands – the perfect chance to put together a cute eco-friendly gift box for one of your loved ones for Christmas! There’s a massive variety on there so you’ll have lots of choice.
Everyone loves candles and these Hopskotch candles are hand-poured in London with soy, so they’re suitable for Vegans too! You can buy these beautiful glass jar candles from £16 – the glass jar makes them easy to store, easy to recycle or just keep the jar to reuse for something else! They also do some beautiful gift sets and even personalised candles or a fancy pants subscription so have a browse and see what you fancy. If you know someone who struggled to relax or sleep, opt for the lavender scent. I actually have a personalised one from my best friend, it smells so amazing that I still haven’t even lit it…It’s too pretty!
We all know winter season is candle season, I could go on forever as there are so many lovely brands but I just absolutely love the look of this Honest Skincare gift set and thought I’d feature it for those of you with a bigger budget looking for something extra special this year. They have a wide selection of skincare, scene and candles all using natural and organic oils, their products are handcrafted and never tested on animals. Their packaging is also biodegradable and reusable! The candles themselves are made using soy wax, which is a non-toxic, natural and renewable source, natural and burns longer – so it’s a win win!
As I’ve gotten older, more and more family members have actually asked for socks for Christmas but socks can also be a great present for anyone you feel obliged to buy for but don’t really know. The gift boxes at Thought are super cute – I especially like the Night Sky set but there are a bunch of lovely Christmas options and cheaper sets for stocking fillers or Secret Santa ideas etc! They are a sustainable, soft bamboo blend and the boxes they come in look so lovely you’d just have to keep them and reuse! The boxes are even made with Vegan glue (woohoo!) and the socks themselves are anti-bacterial/anti-fungal so perfect for any sweaty betties you might know.
I was gifted the most recent November ‘lifestyle’ box by The Vegan Kind this month, usually sold as a subscription and originally I was going to suggest buying your loved one a subscription (still a great idea!) but since then I’ve had another browse of the site and seen there’s currently loads of discounts on the site for buy on get one free/half-price so it’s definitely worth checking out asap! There’s even a bunch of Christmas gift sets – one for new vegans, one full of snacks, a Christmassy themed one, a luxury chocolate one or you can buy some of the old subscriptions as well! The November one I unboxed on my Instagram (linked above!) is currently only £10…Which is crazy, because the cookbook included is £15 alone.
The Vegan Larder: Christmas Gift Box
The Vegan Larder have been supplying subscription boxes since May, but rather than a snack box their collection often includes important staples for cooking as well as recipes you can use your new items to make! Of course, there are always still a couple of tasty treats as well and the retail price of the items will always be more than the subscription payment, so you are always making a saving. This Christmas, however, they are supplying special festive boxes: Chocolate Box at £19.50, Christmas Box at £29 and even Pate Box for only £15. They also do the general gift box as a Gluten Free option which is just amazing. They’ve thought of everything so you don’t have to! You can even order the box directly to your loved ones door…Who wouldn’t want that?! When shopping, if you decide to pick up a subscription please use code ‘itsgemma5’ to get £5 off your first box – please note this code is specifically for subscriptions rather than the supermarket shopping.
Honeywell Biscuit Co are constantly popping up on my Instagram feed with the cutest biscuits you’ve ever seen, in all shapes and sizes. From super cute personalised polar bears to Christmas baubles there’s something for everyone – you can even get Freakshake Kits and enjoy making your own treat – but I think the jar of Advent Biscuits is my absolute fave! It’s £40 for the jar, so it’s slightly pricier than lots of the other bits on the online store but I think it’s such a sweet idea and, as you’ll soon scoff all the biscuits, this is a zero waste gift! For a slightly cheaper option, I also love the Edible Snowglobe and this ones only £22, the same price as the jar of gingerbread men pictured above.
As most of you know, I’m completely obsessed with Candy Kittens, I don’t even want to know how much I’ve spent on them this year, but they just so happen to be completely vegan and gluten free. Personally I’d recommend the Sour Watermelon flavour as they are most definitely the best (trust me, they seriously rival Tangfastics) but these jars come in a bunch of different flavours – if you’re feeling flush you could even gift your loved one a three month subscription…but I’d suggest you keep that one for yourself.
Slab are based on the Isle of Wight and make the most gorgeous fudge, including loads of vegan options which are made with coconut cream instead of dairy. These fudge blocks are £3.50 each so you could either buy a gift-box of them or buy a couple as stocking fillers (‘one for you, two for me…’) or even add them to a current gift hamper…Can you tell I’m a big fab of personalised hampers for Christmas?! Please order before the 9th of December if it’s important that you get your fudge before Christmas Day.
If you’re looking to buy tasty sweet treats for a health freak friend who you just know would give their chocolate away so they don’t eat it (I can only dream of that willpower myself) then look no further! Nouri make these delicious little truffles, totally vegan, sugar free and gluten free using all sorts of lovely, nutritious ingredients – think fancy energy balls if you’ve ever had them! They do little packs of individual flavours but also have this gift box which is £14.95 and just perfect for Christmas.
Now I’m really lucky because I love dark chocolate, and most dark chocolate just happens to be vegan (even Cadburys Bourneville which, in my opinion, is barely proper dark chocolate) but even I wasn’t aware until this year of just how fab the vegan selection at Hotel Chocolat is! They even have this absolutely gorge vegan hamper at only £27.50 which is the same as the standard hampers – no vegan tax here! However, the is a massive range of products from £2-£28 so there’s something for every budget. I’ll definitely be picking up a few bits from there this Christmas and already bought my boyfriend one of their advent calendars. Plus, if you pop in store, there’s usually some kinda freebie treats being handed out as tasters so make sure you have plenty of disguises in your bag so you can get your fill.
If you’re looking for a really useful gift for someone transitioning to zero waste products, this dental care set from The White Teeth Box is for definitely for you! It’s only £15 which is an amazing price for all these products, much cheaper than I’ve seen elsewhere – plus, free UK delivery? Yes please! I was gifted one of these to take a look at and aesthetically it’s lovely, the branding is simple but stylish and it comes well packed in a plastic free box. Completely planet friendly, vegan and cruelty free. No more plastic toothbrushes going to landfill, no more toothpaste tubes or those disposable plastic floss picks as these are 100% bio-degradable and bamboo is naturally antibacterial as well, so even better! The toothpaste contains activated charcoal which has loads of benefit and, although messy, is completely ingestible (have you ever accidentally swallowed toothpaste or mouthwash before? Not great) It also includes a tongue scraper, which not many people are big on using but if you read up on the amount of bacteria just a few simple scrapes in the morning will get rid of, you will want to start! The floss picks are made from bamboo fibre instead of nylon. Whilst nylon is great for getting in between the teeth, you’ll probably notice it’s really not great on our poor gums! These are much more gentle, plus because they are infused with activated charcoal they help to clean in between the teeth as well as just picking out your leftover dinner.
Hydrophil are not based in the UK but if you Google, you’ll find their products on loads of UK sites! They have loads of cheap and cheerful accessories – my favourite being their little toothbrush holder that I was gifted earlier in the year, which you could totally add to the gift set above! It’s just really diddy and cute – you could even use it to store a handful of the cotton buds that they also supply. They do a travel holder for toothbrushes as well which also looks great and will stop your brush being full of hair once you dig it out of your bag…Just me?
A reusable razor is an absolute must-have for everyone in my opinion! There’s absolutely no sense in shredding your skin up with crappy plastic ones before binning them and repeating. I was gifted an Edwin Jagger set to try out and, although I was nervous at first (razor blades are scary!) I was actually surprised at just how easy it was to set up – plus I still haven’t even needed to change the blade on my razor…but maybe that just gives away how little I shave my legs. One thing I was most impressed with was the fact they have a vegan shaving brush! No need to use the traditional badger hair, this synthetic brush seriously rivals that and I’m totally converted to using a brush. Not gonna lie, I thought shaving brushes were just for Grandads or the set of Mad Men but you can use the tiniest amount of shaving cream with this and it suddenly becomes never-ending! I usually just use conditioner as I’m not one for buying loads of grooming products when lots of them do the same thing, however, I’m transitioning into using solid shampoo and conditioner bars and I really loved how well this shaving cream worked! The cream I was sent is currently sold out, but they have some other options or I’m sure you could use a naked soap from somewhere and save on some packaging. The safety razor itself is £28 and I have no doubt that this will last forever if you take care of it – this is for one with a slightly longer handle (better if you’re intending on shaving your legs etc) and only £2 more than the cheapest, standard length one. It feels quality and the weighted aspect of using a metal razor means you no longer have to push and drag it against your skin because the weight and super sharp blade do all the work for you. They have a sale on right now as well, so get on it and don’t delay!
Now this is one of my favourite things I’ve been gifted – you’re supposed to use it to store your cup/tampons/pads etc in for your period but I just love the idea of using it as a travel bag for make-up and getting lots of funny looks on the train, plus it’s only £6 so a cute stocking filler. It’s time periods stopped being seen as embarrassing and revolting and I love the humour in this product. It looks like it’s currently out of stock on the TOTM website, but the tote bag is still there for £5.95.
Not only do Soap Daze sell beautiful gift sets, but you can buy naked soaps, soap on a rope and all sorts of other things for a little bit less if you’re looking to spend a bit less or just need smaller stocking fillers. I was gifted their Oatmylk set to check out which is vegan and fragrance free, so it’s absolutely perfect for sensitive skin. This £29.50 gift set is absolutely beautiful and tied with twine. Sharon makes these in her garden workshop in Devon, using plant oils, botanicals, essential oils with herbs and spices meaning that these hand-crafted products 100% natural and preservative free.
If you’re looking to spend a little less, this five soap gift box from Wild Sage & Co is perfect at only £14. The receiver will get a bunch of different naked soaps to try as well as the lovely tin they are displayed in and a cotton soap saver bag to go with! I really want to get one of these little soap bags, not only do they make sure you don’t waste all the bits and pieces that break off (I hateeee when that happens and they go to waste!) but it also acts as a gentle exfoliator so there’s no need to use those plasticy mit things.
Primal Suds are a small, local brand in Southampton where I live and kindly gifted me their brand new Christmas box to take a look at when I visited them to see how everything’s made. They are a totally open and honest company and there’s SO much information on the website about what is and isn’t found in their products so definitely take a look. The products are completely plastic free, zero waste and vegan – everything comes packed neatly in biodegradable boxes. They are made using entirely natural products and absolutely nothing artificial, even the colourings – which is why you won’t find any bright pink glittery soaps here. With names like ‘Dirty Basterd‘, ‘No Fux Given‘ and ‘Chocwork Orange‘ they definitely have some personality to their brand, which I love! The Christmas gift-set is £35, or there’s a budget version for £20. They even have a money-saving ‘boxed-off‘ deal where you can pick the soaps yourself if you or the person you’re buying for wants something specific. The ready-made gift set also includes shampoo and a deodorant bar along with a lovely wooden soap holder.
Christmas or not, these make-up removal pads are one of my top must-have zero waste replacements. They are SO MUCH BETTER than disposable cotton pads. They feel better, they work better, they look better, they just ARE better – if you’re not buying these for someone else then definitely stick them on your own Christmas list and cross your fingers. There’s quite a selection in the Cheeky Wipes store – I personally love the exfoliating pads, but the softer ones are great for days when Im just cleansing and haven’t worn make-up. The larger, luxury pads are perfect for if you’ve had a full face of make-up on. I was gifted this make-up removal kit which is only £22.95 – a worthwhile investment to never have to buy cotton pads again! It’s also currently on sale for 25% off.
My sister Olivia got me this Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask as a gift after noticing it’s 100% vegan formula and I have included it on my own Christmas list this year as I absolutely love it. It has that cooling, zingy feeling once it’s on that makes me feel like it’s working and my skin always feel so amazing afterwards. It also comes in a glass jar which is great for recycling or reusing. At £17 it’s a bit of a luxury product but if you can’t treat yourself at Christmas, when can you?! The Body Shop currently have a 25-40% off sale on so get your skates on!
Following the glass trend that seems to be appearing in this gift guide, Wild Sage & Co gifted me with a couple clay-based face-masks. You simply add water, yoghurt, honey, herbal tea or apple cider vinegar to the clay mix and, voila, you have a fresh face mask! There are a few different options and they’re all £12 each. Plus, all of their packaging is 100% biodegradable and compostable – including ECO FLO Loose Fill packaging nuts, proving there’s no need to use polystyrene.
This Beauty Kit from The Zero Waste Maker makes a great gift for somebody just starting out the journey to lowering their waste impact. It’s £25 and includes 100% cotton make-up pads made from recycled and compostable materials – plus they even have the alternate side as a black flannel material so you can avoid leaving mascara marks all over the nice white parts. The ingredients in the vegan-friendly soap make it perfect to be used as a facial cleanser and you’ll also get a natural toner and make-up remover, both of which you can send back the glass bottles to refill at a discounted price. The ingredients used are organic, natural and ethically sourced. Bought in bulk so that waste in the making process is kept to an absolute minimum.
I keep this on my bedside table and it smells AMAZING plus it’s suitable for vegans and you can even return the pots to the store where they’ll be reused making this a zero-waste product…Hooray! If you collect five pots, you can take them back to Lush and swap for free fresh face mask. It’s so relaxing and it’s great if you struggle with sleeping as not only does lavender help, but just the scent based routine will train you into knowing when it’s bed time and time to relax – one of my friends uses this all the time and just being near her makes you feel calm because the smell is just so gorgeous! The cocoa butter base includes a gentle oatmeal infusion, lavender flower and comforting sweet tonka absolute. The Sleepy lotion starts from £8.95, but I’ve also seen recently that they’re now doing a shower gel in this scent – including a zero waste naked shower gel which I can’t wait to get my hands on!
This vegan and cruelty free brand boasts a wide selection of homemade cosmetics – my friend Ruby got me this VE Cosmetics lipstick as a present once and it’s the beauty item I get complimented on and questioned about the most. It’s super lightweight feeling and lasts forever as well – plus because it’s liquid matte it’s less likely to end up all over your teeth. The shade I use is Blood Moon and it’s £11.99 but there are loads of other shades, too. I also love that she doesn’t photoshop her images – lots of make-up brands not only photoshop their models, but also the product which in some cases ends up portraying something in a completely fake way.
I was lucky enough to be gifted a few items from The Body Shop (I already use a bunch of their stuff, my favourite thing being a travel set of brushes I got for Christmas last year…Which I just use for my eye make-up all the time because why would I need two sets of brushes haha) after I went to a Bloggers event and had my make-up done during a demonstration. I absolutely loved it, the brushes were super soft and even though I’d had a bunch of products put on my skin, including this liquid foundation (£16) and powder (£8), it was so lightweight I couldn’t feel it at all – even to touch! No more sticky, clammy, cakey face…Amazing. I only ever want my skin coverage to look as natural as possible so it’s perfect for me. What’s even better is that they sell lightening and darkening drops (£11 each), so your one foundation shade can last you through your pale winter and tanned summer (I tan to a beige level, but still) just by using these drops to alter the shade as much or little as you’d like. These products are also vegan and well priced compared to many of the current popular brands – I’ve tried a couple in the past, spending a fair amount of money but never felt as satisfied as I did with this product, which is luckily much cheaper as well! They also all come in glass jars.
If you’re not a fan of the liquid to matte lipsticks, Uoga Uoga make some lovely shades of natural lipsticks and gifted me this one in ‘Lush Raspberry‘ along with a concealer and moisturiser which I haven’t tried yet as I’m trying to run my current make-up bag out before I open new things! They occasionally use beeswax and honey, so not everything is suitable for vegans but you will find some of their products are so it’s worth having a look through, these cosmetics aren’t but a lot of their skincare range is. The lipstick retails at €14.50 and is lovely if you know someone who likes to try new brands!
I spotted these on The Kind Store recently and they’re such a lovely set, unfortunately for me I already have more brushes than I use so can’t justify buying them but I thought they’d make a fab gift for any beauty fiend. The brushes are not only vegan, but completely plastic free – even the packaging! Which is great, because often just the nature of how we shops means no matter how friendly the product it’s still usually inside a load of plastic. These ones come in a stylish little hemp bag! It’s a great little store with loads of vegan and eco-friendly options, so please if you head there make sure you have a good browse before you check out!
Greedy Lama have recently launched a ‘beauty box’ subscription cleverly named the ‘Glama‘ box! At £20, it runs every two months and contains closer to £30 in all-vegan beauty treats. I only just received mine so I haven’t used anything yet but it includes a Ben and Anna deodorant I’ve wanted to try for ages as well some vegan soap and make-up bits, including a black eye-liner which is very me. They also have the snack box option; full to the brim with sweet and savoury treats, this box is a great way to show a vegan loved one how much you care this Christmas! With a selection they’re bound to love, it’s just nice to be safe in the knowledge that everything inside is vegan without having to do your own research into everything you buy. I was gifted last months box but I ate most of it right away…Which is why I’ve photographed the Glama box for you instead.
I also recently wrote a Local Gift Guide featuring my top ten sellers/makers based in and around my hometown of Southampton. Knowing so many small businesses and being one myself, trust me when I say that your support (and money!) means so, so much especially at Christmas so if you can find the right products at the right price for you then keep your money local this Christmas 🙂
For most, it’s not entirely feasible to transition to a zero waste lifestyle (almost impossible in our society) but there are always ways we can all try to do better. It’s not about perfection or absolutes. We can always be more kind – with our words, actions and spending habits. Please comment below if I’ve missed any of your favourite brands, as I’d love to check them out!
Check out this video to see some of the products in a little more detail!
Don’t miss my most recent post featuring the Candy Kittens Advent Calendar, a great gift for a special someone who likes sweets. It’s also vegan and gluten free, you can read the post here!