Why buy eco gifts? Also, what is an eco friendly gift?
An eco gift is a gift that is 'friendly' to the environment, that means the item is not harmful to the environment and is a product that contributes towards the aim of living green.
Green living practices include reducing air, water and land pollution as well as a commitment to sustainable living habits such as the three R's; Recycle, Reuse, Reduce. Sustainable living is also about being mindful of how you use resources - conserving resources like water and energy and ideally avoiding the use of non sustainable fuels (fuels that will eventually run out).
Eco friendly products and gifts are typically at least non toxic, use sustainably grown ingredients and / or production methods, are organic and involve the use of recycled or re purposed materials.
The best materials for re using and repurposing are those that are not very biodegradable such as plastics, it's especially important that we recycle, reuse and re purpose plastics rather than simply place them in landfill for the next 1000 years - because that's how long it takes them to biodegrade.
It's not all bamboo spoons.
I've focused on shops that also provide cool gifts and gadgets - that aren't only about being sustainably and ethically manufactured, but also help you to live more sustainably.
It's not all African beads and bamboo spoons for hippie sorts, I promise you.
Scroll down for the list ...
1. Ethical Shop
A nicely designed shop with a good sized product range. Cool things include a beautiful fair trade Frida Kahlo Filled Cushion (below) and their children's dress up sets. They have a selection of super practical items for purchase too including ethical toiletries and spices.
The Wise House stock a lot of practical yet pretty products that help you reduce your environmental impact; from drink flasks to reusable cotton lunch bags, they appear to be serious about sustainability.
They have quite a varied range and so you can also find clothes, candles, bags, beauty products and more. A lot of their products are suitable for gift giving.
Stocking a lot of items from British designer-makers, The Wise House also appear to be committed to small business and sourcing local.
Sustainable surfing. Given that many surfers are hippie sorts, it makes sense that someone out there decided to give them what they would most likely appreciate; guilt free surfing.
Hoodies, footwear, books, and most impressively; surf boards, The Green Wave make a good attempt at offering a diverse range of products for the surfing crowd.
Their surf board range encompasses recycled surf boards by NOTOX. NOTOX say of their eco friendly boards;
"A classic surfboard is made of materials that have travelled 9000km before being assembled. It generates the double of its weight of waste, among which nothing is recyclable, and everything highly toxic.
Notox boards produce waste for less than the half their weight, 75% of which is recyclable. Materials are sourced in France and Belgium, less than 700km away from the Notox lab so that the carbon footprint is the least possible. They come from an organic natural origin or from recycling and prove no toxicity for people and nature."
This is your go to place for eco gadgets and fabulous highly unique home wares and gifts. Rechargeable torches, appliance energy monitors, composters, art, office accessories and more.
Protect The Planet have a fairly sizeable range of products, a substantial amount of which seems to be energy saving gadgets, homewares and garden solutions. They do have a large gift collection also though, and you can search for gifts by price.
Their 'recycled presents' section is well worth a visit, containing unique re purposed gifts from talented designer makers, such as these fire hose belts by Elvis and Kresse (below).
"The best eco gadgets and energy saving products for your home!" cheerily greets you as you enter their online store.
A rather unique eco shop that focuses on saving energy and reducing energy loss in your home and so have products that revolve around insulation, draft proofing, heating and lighting. You will find LED lights, solar solutions, wind solutions and eco paint at The Eco Store.
Quite a fascinating shop, where you can buy a £1500 wind turbine online.
I'm afraid I cheated with this one, there aren't any gifts really, not unless you want to buy your auntie a chimney cowl, but it was just too useful and interesting to ignore.
Watch Out For 'Greenwashing'
Sadly taking advantage of societies recent and well warranted interest in environmental issues, some companies have taken to labelling their products as eco friendly when they most certainly are not.
The term for this is 'greenwashing'; a marketing tactic of exaggerating the environmental benefits of a product simply for the purpose of selling it.
Unfortunately we do not currently have much in the way of regulation over what sort of claims companies are allowed to make about how green their products are. Indeed they are permitted to say pretty much what they want on their labels, regardless of whether it is true or not.
To ensure you're buying genuinely eco friendly products look out for items that are certified by the following authorities.
Energy Star - appliances and electronics.
USDA Organic Seal - cosmetics and foods.
Green Seal - cleaning products.
Forest Stewardship Council Logo - paper and wood.
Not all products are going to be conveniently certified for you, and so you can also make efforts to distinguish what is and is not geniunely eco friendly or ethical by researching the company selling a given product, and inspecting ingredients.
Eco Friendly Links