Yup, it’s 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 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 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 ugly, plastic 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. They are now also stocked on Amazon so depending on where you live that might be cheaper than buying directly through the website. The lunch bag pictured is £16 and 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 that takes a packed lunch to work with them!
I particularly love this review I saw on Amazon:
If you’re after something a little more special for the vegan in your life, The Vegan Tannery is an amazing online store for all your favourite usually-leather goods! They gifted me a lovely purse last year (and an eco-friendly cork belt!) and stock a collection of pieces by different designers, so there’s something for everyone from simple classics to instagrammable show pieces! Purses range from £27.95 – £49.95 and there’s a selection of bags for not much more so definitely take a look. If you’re after a new bag, why not take the still stylish but much more sustainable option? Use code GEMMA15 for 15% off your order.
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.
This is a custom engraved zero waste cooks knife, kindly gifted to me last year by Nick from New Forest Knives – the blades was made from an old saw blade! The handle is an old oak floorboard…So impressive! Nick makes all sorts of custom blades, this is just one type but as they’re such a reasonable price I know so many people with them now and specifically this zero waste knife has proved really popular.
KeepCup are probably the most widely known brand of reusable cup, they make a great christmas present as there are just so many different ones! You can even design your own via the website but they’re also just super easy to find out and about and always stocked in places like John Lewis. They’re main selling point is that each piece is individually replaceable – if you smash the glass (it’s tempered so it should be okay!) then you can just buy the glass and you can alternate between different accessories to make it better for however you want to use it. They’re super easy to clean being glass and a simple design, no chance of mould in any weird contraptions or staining of plastic and generally around £12-22. They’re also available on Amazon. Not only would you be gifting this fab cup but also guaranteeing your loved one cheap coffee forever more, as most places offer discount for reusing cups like this.
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!
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 at only £6.50! 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.
The Vegan Larder have been supplying gorge subscription boxes for over a year now 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 £14.50. 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?! My favourite is always the chocolate box, it never fails to disappoint. Most of the stuff inside you’d struggle to find even in the best health food shops so it makes for an extra special gift compared to the other gift boxes I’ve tried in the past. There’s vegan chocolate, fudge, nut butter, Christmas themed treats but most importantly an amazing vegan take on a wagon wheel that is NOT to be missed.
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 £42 for the jar, so it’s pricier than most 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 £25, slightly cheaper that the £28 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, wild strawberry is great too.
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. They have a sale at the moment on the gift sets so don’t delay!
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 even 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 as I always do as they’re really easy for gifting when you just need to add a little somethin’ somethin’! 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.
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 a couple years ago 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 rarely need to change the blade on my razor and it never goes all weird and rusty. 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 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.
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’s £4.95 and you can purchase it here.
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 beautifully 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 a box of treats to take a look at when I visited them to see how everything’s made last year. 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! 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.
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 £24.95 – a worthwhile investment to never have to buy cotton pads again!
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?!
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 £9, but they’re now doing a shower gel in this scent – including a zero waste naked shower gel!
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. Theres a massive selection of products available
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 also recently wrote a Local Gift Guide featuring my top 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!