The Eco Gift Guide: 14 Christmas Ideas That Won't Add To Our Plastics Pollution Crisis

Blue Planet II lovers – this one’s for you. And the turtles. And the whales. And you get the picture.

Blue Planet II viewers have been vowing never to use plastic again after the latest episode showed a pilot whale carrying her deceased calf, which is believed to have died due to plastic contamination.

We dump more than 8m tonnes of plastic into our oceans every year. Seabirds are swallowing it, turtles are suffocating on it and it’s even getting into our drinking water.

<strong>Injured seal with a plastic frisbee stuck around its neck</strong>
gemredding via Getty Images
Injured seal with a plastic frisbee stuck around its neck

There’s something we can immediately do about this: stop buying so much of the stuff. The good news is there are some excellent Christmas alternatives out there at every price point.

Before we begin our gift guide proper we should point out one important exception we’ve made, which is to include a handful of products made from recycled ocean plastics. “Plastic-free” these are not; tackling our toxic plastics pollution problem they most certainly are.

Here we go.

1. Buy A Hotel... For Bees


Bee hotels such as Wudwerx’s Mason Bee House provide shelter for solitary bees to nest in. Edinburgh-based Wudwerx makes bee hotels, bird boxes and insect houses from wood and bamboo – in their words “to give nature a helping hand”.

Price: £19.95. Buy it here.

2. The Gold, Frankincense And Myrrh Lip Block


This sparkle-tastic lip block is part of cosmetics company Lush’s 2017 winter range, at least 80% of which is packaging free – or “naked”, as Lush likes to call it.

Price: £12.50. Buy it here.

3. Give The Gift Of BYOB

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This heartbreaking turtle photo is a sharp reminder of the damage six-pack rings can do to wildlife so, if the person you’re shopping for is into beer, why not get them this insulated growler, which they can refill at their local microbrewery. If they don’t already use a refillable water bottle, we highly recommend you add in one of these too.

Price: £69.95. Buy it here.

4. Skateboards With Purpose


Abandoned fishing nets, which mistakenly trap and kill marine animals, make up an overwhelming 10% of the plastic waste in our oceans. Enter Bureo, which makes skateboards from recycled nets gathered in Chile. As well as fighting ocean waste, Bureo skateboards support fishing communities by offering financial incentives to dispose of nets sustainably.

Price: $129-195 (£97-147). Buy it here.

5. Jenga For Ocean Lovers


Not shopping for a skater? Bureo also makes an ocean plastics version of the family-friendly block-stacking game Jenga.

Price: $49.95 (£38). Buy it here.

6. The Bikini With A Twist


Bureo isn’t the only company revitalising waste fishing nets. Outdoor apparel company Finisterre’s “Ren reversible bikini” uses ECONYL yarn made from used nets and other waste. Perhaps not the right outfit for Christmas day, but ideal for sunnier times in 2018. Plus Finisterre donates 10% of profits from the sale of its ECONYL swimwear to Surfers Against Sewage, a charity protecting UK oceans and beaches.

Price: £80. Buy it here.

7. For The Paul Hollywood Wannabes

Ryland Peters Small

There’s a simple way to cut plastics out of our lives – cook more from scratch. Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s book gives an excellent introduction to bread baking, providing more than 60 easy-to-follow recipes with mouth-watering accompanying photographs.

Price: £19.99. Buy it here.

8. Dinosaur Kale. Roar.


Give the gift of growing with this kale kit, which comes in a biodegradable jute bag ready for planting directly into the garden once the plant is established. If kale doesn’t appeal, you can choose from the likes of chillis, pumpkins or sunflowers instead.

Price: £10. Buy it here.

9. A Very Different Kind Of Box Set

Pick from 21 scrummy-sounding soaps including “citrus sunshine” and “mint mojito” to make up your eight soap set from the All Natural Soap Co. The Cambridgeshire-based business handmakes its soaps (using compostable gloves it might be added) before packaging them in cardboard and sending them off in recyclable jiffy bags filled with recycled paper fibres.

Price: £32.95. Buy it here.

10. Get Crafty With The Gift Of Upholstery

This one-day beginners course at The Goodlife Centre in central London is a great introduction to the magical world of upholstery. For those further afield, Craft Courses is a wonderful website listing thousands of creative workshops across the UK, from bee keeping to bike building to bushcraft.

Price: £175. Buy it here.

11. The Satchel Dreams Are Made Of

Elvis Kresse

A satchel. Made from decommissioned fire-hose with a reclaimed parachute silk lining. Need we say more?

Price: £270. Buy it here.

12. A Book Every Child Should Read

Duffy The Sea Turtle

“Duffy’s Lucky Escape”, aimed at four- to 10-year-olds, explores everything from plastic-free meals to what it means to be a global citizen through the story of a sea turtle who encounters ocean plastics after a storm.

Price: £7.99. Buy it here.

13. Im-press With This Flower Press

This beautiful flower press is the perfect present for someone who loves growing – or receiving – flowers. Play your cards right and the recipient might even make you a thank you note with some of their pressed blooms.

Price: £30.36. Buy it here.

14. (Stainless) Steel Yourself For These Lunchboxes

Made in India and based on the traditional tiffins still used there today, these stainless steel lunchboxes – which are dishwasher safe and available in a range of shapes and sizes – are style personified.

Price: £15-£22. Buy it here.

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