Ethical Christmas Gift Guide

Shopping ethically can be tough at the best times, never mind with the pressure and rush around Christmas. The gift ideas below will make your task that little bit easier, saving you time, money and helping the environment.

Buying Books

Books are a real favourite at Christmas. It's always best to try and buy second-hand books, saving you money and trees.  We would recommend that you use NearSt or World of Books. NearSt is an online app that connects you to your nearest local independent shop. Both sell second-hand books. Or use your local second-hand bookshop.

For new books, we would urge people to use radical bookshops or your local independent bookshops.


Find out more in our guide to bookshops, a guide which is freely open to everyone.

Wherever you decide to buy your books from it's always best to avoid Amazon, AbeBooks, Audible and the Book Depository. See our Alternatives to Amazon series to help you avoid the online giant. 

Perfume and Aftershave

Perfumers are legally allowed to keep their ingredients list a secret which means it's often hard to work out whether a perfume contains animal ingredients or dodgy toxic chemicals.

However, our Best Buy brands are vegan, which ensures no animal ingredients. Plus they also don’t contain parabens. Read our ‘toxic beauty’ feature to find out why chemicals such as parabens are harmful.

DIY perfume

Our Best Buys for perfume and aftershave are Dolma, Fairypants, Neal’s Yard*, Weleda. They all offer vegan products and are cruelty-free (not tested on animals).

Christmas Clothing

There is now plenty of choice when it comes to sustainable fashion brands. 

Image: Know the Origin label
Credit: Know the Origin

We recommend Know the Origin, Brothers We Stand, and People Tree*. There are also plenty more in our dedicated ethical fashion retailers guide.

We have just updated our guide to underwear to help you find the most ethical pair of socks or undies. We recommend PICO and PACT brands.


Treating friends or family to some delicious chocolates is a great option for Christmas.

Image: chocolate

Best buys in our guide include the Fairtrade and/or organic certified products from Divine, Pacari, Plamil and Chocolat Madagascar.

If you are looking to avoid palm oil this Christmas, check our palm oil free list to see where you can get palm oil free chocolates. 


Buying a new phone or laptop is often a bit of an ethical minefield and we therefore recommend that you buy second-hand or refurbished equipment wherever possible. 

Image: fairphone

If you do want to buy new, we recommend:


If you a willing to splurge that little bit more, a bike is the perfect environmentally-friendly gift. We have a selection of guides from cargo bikes to electric bikes to help you find the perfect fit. We always recommend buying a well-built second-hand bike from a local DIY bike project. 

Image: bike

If you want to buy new, we recommend going to a local independent bike store and seeking out a steel bicycle. 

See our Best Buy picks in the following guides: 

Creative Christmas Hamper

If you can't think of a particular gift, why not put together a hamper full of ethical goodies. Make your own jam or buy some palm-oil free biscuits

See the following guides for inspiration: 

christmas hamper
Credit: Riverford

Places to Buy

There are lots of ethical online retailers, from large retailers like John Lewis to smaller retailers such as The Ethical Shop. Ethical Consumer subscribers qualify for a discount at the Ethical Shop. Sign in and visit the My account area for the discount code. 

*We have an affiliate deal with this shop. Ethical Consumer makes a small amount of money from your purchase. This goes to fund our research and campaigning. We ethically screen all the sites we link to.

Become a subscriber today

Ethics made easy - comprehensive, simple to use, transparent and reliable ethical rankings. A wealth of data at your fingertips.

Only £29.95 for 12 months web access and the print magazine. Cancel via phone or email within 30 days for a full, no-questions-asked refund!

Start your subscription - find out more