Christmas – a time for giving thanks and spending time with your loved ones – or a manic month of spending more than you can afford on presents that will be taken back to the store in January ?

My childhood memories of Santa’s visits are probably similar to many.  One decent-sized present lined up alongside a compendium of games, a John Bull printing set, painting-by-numbers and the now-outlawed Smoker’s liquorice box.

These days it’s all hi-tech toys and over-priced Bratz sets – but I heard recently of a family who have agreed to buy all their presents from Ebay or charity shops  – and although you might not get away with it for children of a certain age, it’s a great idea for adults.

A few weeks ago, we mentioned a new charity shop, Traid, that sells “recycled fashions” and that would be a good starting point for gifts. But remember that you can pick up designer labels in most charity shops and they are also good for glassware, china, books and toys.

And what can we say about Ebay?  It’s a simple way to locate unusual presents and often, people auction or sell items to raise funds for charity so you’re killing two birds with one stone – recycling an unwanted gift and making a worthwhile donation.

Of course, if you have a friend or relative who would be appalled at a “second hand” present, you could opt for an environmentally friendly gift instead.

I just love the wind-up radios on offer at Natural Collection. They give up to one hour of radio (AM, FM, and international shortwave frequencies) from just one minute of winding. They have a built in LED flashlight and one model features a mobile phone charger output jack. Prices from £23.95.


The Natural Collection gift range includes organic soft toys, unusual board games and fairly- traded jewellery and gifts – not to mention books, clothes and eco-gadgets such as the the Radiplug. This allows you to switch items off by remote control rather than leave them on standby. It’s also great for anyone who has difficulty moving around the house or bending down since you can switch on the kettle or turn off the TV from bed.  It works up to 30m away and unlike infrared, it can go through walls. (£19.95)

There are also some great outdoor gift ideas in the wiggly wigglers online shop. For example, you  might know someone who keeps talking about composting but hasn’t quite got around to it yet.

The wigglers wormery could be the ideal gift  (prices start at £56 for the all-in-one composter kit) or how about an Empowered Composter which works remarkably quickly and eliminates smells (£85+). The store also offers a range of other gifts from  water butts to natural beauty products (made in the UK and featuring herb extracts).

Other ideas for relatives who appreciate really practical presents could include loft insulation or secondary glazing. This is effectively two gifts in one since as well as you paying for their insulation they also benefit from the fuel savings. (And of course the environment benefits too)

Another excellent online source for eco gifts is All Things Green. Here you’ll find a wide assortment of gifts from solar powered gadgets to bamboo clothing. (I especially like the drinking glasses made from recycled bottles (priced from £10 per pair) and the ingenious water-powered calculators and clocks (priced from £4.99).


If you know a new parent, the Organic Baby Book (£9.99) would make a nice gift or how about The Organic Directory which lists over 2000 suppliers and retailers (£10.99).

Flowers or plants are always a popular gift idea – but if possible, support your local economy by buying them from a local nursery or florist. If you have a real food-lover in the family, it’s also worth checking whether local farms or organic foodshops are offering Christmas hampers.)
And remember that many high street shops are now tentatively entering the “green” marketplace. This year, for example, Marks & Spencer are offering a small range of recycled and fair trade clothing.


I think this men’s recycled zip-up fleece looks a good buy at £15 and I love the recycled satin-trim camisole at £12.


If you already have a gift idea in mind for someone, you could log onto Gooshing, an online ethical shopping guide before deciding where to make your purchase. Simply type in what you’re looking for and it will suggest ethical products or companies to buy from.

It rates companies based on a wide number of issues such as animal testing, energy efficiency, political donations and environmental actions. It also has a compare-and-buy tool to find the best supplier for the item you want – from washing machines and computers to food or beauty products.

Next week, our gift guide will include green gifts that will never need to be recycled and don’t even require gift-wrapping.
Happy shopping !



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: