Did you know that in the UK, during Christmas alone we discard more than 277,000 miles of wrapping paper. Ouch. Not so bad if all of it gets recycled, but with foiling, glitter and various other difficult-to-recycle materials, I doubt we’re anywhere close to fully recycled. There may have been big expectations from COP26 in dealing with climate change, but if the outcome has left you less than inspired, maybe we need to look to companies making positive change, rather than governments, to lead the way. In this year’s Christmas gift guide I review the brands and products that I feel are taking steps in the right direction to reduce packaging and make it easier for us, the consumer, to reduce, recycle, reuse.
All of these gift sets have been kindly sent to me as press samples by brands, and as my husband would say, I already have enough beauty products to keep 5 faces cleansed, soothed and hydrated for the next 20 years, so I will be donating all relevant gifts to charity Beauty Banks which supports people living in hygiene poverty with donations of personal care products.
VOYA, a beauty and wellbeing brand inspired by the ancient Irish tradition of seaweed bathing, is bravely full of optimism for this festive season with their Tides of Joy sea-themed offering, so fingers crossed Christmas actually goes ahead this year around. Some of the sets are packaged in bags made from ocean waste, but this one comes in a reusable tin. Branding on the tin is minimal once you remove the card sleeve, with just VOYA embossed on the front, so it can definitely be repurposed as a biscuit tin (or to store any dry goods), sewing tin and of course gift box. Whatever second life you choose to give it, it should be long lasting. And the contents? With this trio of home fragrances, I’m most looking forward to lighting up the Cedarwood & Bergamot candle. 1x100ml + 1x20cl + 1x10ml RRP £52.00
On the surface this gift set from my favourite French pharmacy brand Caudalie doesn’t look any more eco-friendly than many other pre-made gift sets out there. But there are a few sustainable initiatives that the brand has committed to, old and new, that make them stand apart:
- Since 2012 Caudalie has been a member of ‘1% for the Planet’, meaning they contribute 1% of their worldwide turnover to protect the environment, specifically planting over 8 million trees.
- Part of #WeAreAllies, an industry first initiative regrouping 5 beauty brands to reduce cosmetics packaging waste
- 100% Plastic Collect, an initiative Caudalie launched this year to collect, recycle and reuse global plastic waste
- Their Christmas 2021 gift sets are made with paper from sustainably managed forests, printed with plant ink, and the insert is made from recycled plastic. Any parts from the actual product packaging that can’t be recycled at home (eg. pumps, notoriously tricky) can be taken back to a Caudalie boutique to be recycled by Terracycle.
As for this new Vinergetic C+ range, I’ve yet to try it but if it’s as good as the Vinoperfect range, I’m sold. 1x50ml + 1x30ml + 1x5ml RRP £38.00
Such a compact little nourishing skincare gift set. I discovered this brand thanks to natural and organic skincare destination Blomma Beauty that stocks these vegan and cruelty-free products handmade in Kent. The rigid card box is super easy to recycle (and itself already made of recycled material), but it’s such good quality and a great size, it would be a shame not to keep it in the gifting circuit and reuse to gift jewellery or scented tea lights. The products themselves also boast strong green credentials: the cleansing balm comes in a biodegradable Sulapac plant cellulose and wood pulp jar (I first raved about this material in my sustainable packaging post) and the oils are in glass bottles. Plus they make a great travel set. 1x15ml + 2x5ml RRP £30.00
Sometimes the simplest solutions really are the best. Brands increasingly look for new and innovative packaging materials to wow us with – boxes made of biodegradable sugar cane waste or compostable mushroom – in the name of sustainability. But in terms of recyclability or even better, reusability, nothing beats a simple, sleek and durable paper bag like this one from vegan British brand Nourish which houses a Lemon & Black Pepper scented hand wash and hand lotion. No excess packaging, no confusing recycling instructions, no need for inventive ways to upcycle. And no fuss around wrapping the products inside: the bag IS the gift wrap. It’s not fancy, it’s not revolutionary, it really is just a bag, but it’s the easiest one to pop into your household recycling (just remove the rope handles first) or reuse as a – yes you’ve guessed – carrier bag. Oh yes and the fragrance is pleasantly unisex, and who doesn’t need a handcare duo in their bathroom? This gift won’t go to waste, it is literally failsafe. 2x 300ml RRP £25.00
This has got to be one of my favourite eco-friendly discoveries of 2021. I came across Furoshiki Wrap Company on an influencer’s Instagram feed and instantly fell in love with this cloth wrapping concept. Originally from Japan – aren’t all the best things from Japan: innovative skincare, hot springs, bento boxes – furoshiki is a traditional wrapping cloth which can be used ad infinitum in so many different ways, from a lunchbox wrapper to a shopping bag, a tablecloth, a belt, and of course a gift wrap. It’s up to you whether it forms part of the present or if you ask for it to be returned (feels a bit awkward in a British setting, probably best to gift it and explain its purpose). These come in so many beautiful patterns you’ll have as much fun choosing one as you will the actual gift. The wrapping technique is surprisingly easy – no really – after watching the video on their website a couple of time I got the hang of it, although admittedly it was on non-challenging shapes. I’ve seen furoshiki wraps increasingly crop up amongst non-Japanese brands and I really hope they are here to stay. From RRP £4.25
Features gifted products