6 lovely sustainable gifts for the special people in your life

Looking for a thoughtful present? These sustainable gifts are just what you need

sustainable gifts
(Image credit: Getty)

As consumers, we hold power in where and how we spend our money. If you’re passionate about the environment, you might want to wield this power in as many of your buying decisions as possible—and extend it to the things you buy for other people, too.

Thanks to the ever-growing number of environmentally-focused brands, there’s no shortage when it comes to lovely, handy sustainable gifts. Whether you're looking for a fresh new fragrance from one of the best scented candles; rings and necklaces made of reused metals from eco jewelry shops; or world-class gin in beautiful reduced-glass bottles from a distillery that uses renewable energy, there’s plenty of present ideas to choose from. 

Below you’ll find six sustainable gift ideas, accompanied with our tried and tested suggestions of the coolest eco-friendly brands to check out. 

The best sustainable gifts to buy your loved ones

1. Scented candles

Sustainable gifts - Boujie Candle

(Image credit: Boujie)

The moment you receive a quality scented candle and feel genuinely grateful is when you’ve graduated to adulthood. In your younger years, this may have felt like a "nothing" gift, but once you’ve settled into a pad that you’re inspired to make feel like home (this applies to renters, too!), a beautifully-packaged candle is just the touch of atmosphere you’ve been looking for to get that hygge home feeling. 

But any old, chemical-filled candle simply won’t do these days. And, with so many independent, women-led, sustainable brands out there, why would it? If you're like us and are constantly Googling "are candles bad for you?" the big tick boxes when shopping for a sustainable candle are choosing soy wax over paraffin because it’s non-toxic and made from renewable vegetable-based materials, which means it’s better for your health and the environment. 

Recyclable packing is also a must—it goes without saying that brands who are plastic-free are high up on our list. We also have a lot of time for businesses that are passionate about innovating unusual, creative methods of sustainability, such as Selfmade Candles. This London-based brand has created seed labels that can be planted in the glass candle jar after it’s been used. They even provide the soil. Pretty cool, huh? Selfmade have seven candles in their collection, but we particularly like the Boujie Candle, which smells like a Spanish orchard.

2. Chakra cleansers

Sustainable gifts - Eve Keel chakra

(Image credit: Eve Keel)

Burnout was the big buzzword of last year. It felt like every twentysomething woman we knew was juggling a side hustle alongside building a career, maintaining a social life, managing her money and finding time to date and exercise—and that’s just the start. So, it’s no wonder that self-care has become such an integral part of our routines.

If you’ve got a friend who could do with a little self-care, a scented chakra roller is a thoughtful, practical, and yes, sustainable gift. Eve & Keel’s Joy: Heart Chakra Roller  contains a balancing blend of essential oils and crystals to encourage open, joyful energy. Roll the delicate mix of rose geranium, Melissa oil and bergamot on the wrists and follow this independent, female-founded brand’s advice on how to relax and de-stress and practice visualization. 

We like Eve & Keel for its commitment to recyclable packaging and that it uses organic ingredients, which promote soil sustainability and bee survival. Plus, the brand’s philosophy is all about empowering yourself to achieve your dreams, which is a message we can get on board with!

3. Handmade ceramics

sustainable gifts - Afton By Palm Line Art Painted Clay Face Decor Dish

(Image credit: Afton By Palm)

If you’ve seen the tablescaping trend that’s all over Instagram, you’ll know that handmade ceramics are the purchase du jour. Best when created on a small scale by an independent ceramics artist (of which social media, joyfully, has many), we’re craving deliciously uneven bowls, one-of-a-kind plates and unusual vases that we can decorate our homes with.

When shopping for a friend, you can’t go wrong with an earthy but minimalist trinket dish, for which pieces from Afton By Palm are perfect. Try the brand's Line Art Painted Clay Face Decor Dish for a stylish place to keep keys, loose change, jewelry or nothing at all.

We’re also big fans of buying Aerende’s conscious crockery collection as sustainable gifts, which spans rustic pitchers (Dip Glaze Jug) and neutral, stoneware plates.

4. Eco jewelry

Sustainable gifts - KIND - Hidden Orbit Ring Gold

(Image credit: KIND)

For a milestone birthday, a thoughtfully chosen piece of eco jewelry is a beautiful gesture and one of the best sustainable gifts you can buy. There are loads of brands to choose from, so whether you’d peg you loved one’s style as minimalist, feminine or quirky, shopping sustainably shouldn’t restrict you. 

Both Kind Jewellery and Milly Grace Jewellery are great places to look if she’s into the trend of layering fine, dainty pieces of gold jewellery. Kind Jewellery’s Gold Demi Orbit Ring is exquisitely delicate and would look elegant stacked with other rings, while Milly Grace’s Orbit Layered Choker features two dainty chains punctuated with tiny gold-plated balls, presented in recyclable packaging.

Yala Jewellery uses eco-friendly materials like zero-waste brass to create earthy, organic pieces using ethical methods. Founder Audrey Migot-Adholla works with communities in Kenya to receive fair wages, safe and healthy work environments, and are celebrated for their talent. We particularly like The Kisian Horn Inlay Ring.

5. Sustainable lingerie

sustainable gifts - Studio Pia PETRA LONGLINE BRA

(Image credit: Studio Pia)

For us, lingerie must be four things: comfortable, high quality, sustainable and beautiful. In a world of fast fashion, it can be all too easy to grab a pack of panties for a discounted price. But even though underwear isn’t on show for everyone to see, slipping on something nice just for ourselves can make a difference to the start of the day.

This is where we come in, with a list of brilliant, eco-friendly brands who all happily adhere to our checklist. "Bed to street" brand Les Girls Les Boys has a range of simple, feminine underwear—we particularly like the Ultimate Comfort Soft Bra in Myrtle—and the brand ships by road and sea, not air, to reduce its carbon footprint, avoids extra labels and uses biodegradable and recyclable packaging. 

If you’re seeking something more flamboyant, Studio Pia is an independent brand which specializes in luxury lingerie inspired by couture—it even has a "show stopper" section. The brand's Petra Longline Bra is crafted from cruelty-free, organic, stretch silk satin in sultry scarlet red.

6. Better booze

Sustainable gifts - Gin

(Image credit: Cooper King)

Thanks to the gin revival, handing over a bottle as a birthday present is now as acceptable as bringing bubbly. But, of course, this depends on the brand and blend chosen. 

Gin is becoming more sustainable with an increase in both eco-focused independent brands and larger makers putting their efforts into sustainable batches. 

Cooper King Distillery specializes in sustainable spirits and is completely powered by green energy. Its founders are passionate about preserving the earth and have teamed up with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust to plant one square meter of woodland for every gin bottle sold. They also offer gin refills, plastic-free packaging, source raw materials locally, and save as much water and energy while manufacturing as possible. As sustainable gifts, we like bottles of their Herb Gin, which balances basil, lemongrass and clove.

Megan Murray

Megan Murray is editor of Soho Home and has ten years of experience in lifestyle journalism writing across topics such as interiors, food, and travel. Previously, she launched interiors franchises for Stylist.co.uk, where she was senior writer and still freelances, as well as for sites such as Square Meal and Mr Porter. Megan has a passion for shining a light on the stories of talented womxn and has interviewed the likes of Mariah Carey, Munroe Bergdorf and Maya Jama. In her spare time, Megan loves decorating her rental, reading independent magazines and exploring the UK.