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Ethical and Eco-friendly mother’s day gifts

Mother’s Day is an opportunity to make a mother or inspirational woman feel special. As far as we’re concerned the aim of the game is to escape all the heavy marketing and give her something that’s meaningful and good for the environment.

This guide suggests some alternative mother’s day gifts to show mum that you’re thinking about her and the planet.

Places to Buy

There are lots of ethical online retailers such as Ethical Shop* and*. You can read more about them in our guide to ethical online retailers. Below we link to these and other retailers that we’ve researched so you know you’re buying from the most ethical places possible.

*If you buy from Ethical Shop and Veo you’ll also be helping to support us as we have affiliate deals with them.

Ethical Consumer subscribers also qualify for a discount at the Ethical Shop. Sign in to the website and visit the my account area for this and other discount codes.

Reusable coffee cup or water bottle

Reusable drinks containers are a great way to cut out single-use plastic waste, are super useful and can make a great present. They come in a variety of colours and patterns to be taken out and about.

Reusable coffee cup

rice husk sustainable travel mug coffee cup mothers day

In the UK alone, we throw away between 2.5 and 3.75 billion coffee cups each year, and fewer than 1 in 400 cups are recycled. This makes using a re-usable cup a great way of cutting waste. A good eco-friendly option is a rice husk coffee cup.

Rice husk is a by-product of rice but it is also a natural source of silica, so when farmers burn rice straw to dispose of the husk it creates a hazardous breathable dust. This poses a risk to both workers and the environment.

A rice husk coffee cup can therefore help stop crystalline silica being scattered across the rice-lands of Asia and Africa.

Reusable water bottle

image: selection of glass water bottles in a row different colours

Last year it was revealed that 38.5 million plastic bottles are used every day. And whilst plastic bottles are often correctly labelled as ‘recyclable’, only 57% of them are actually recycled.

A reusable water bottle therefore can make a great gift.

Most reusable water bottles are made of stainless steel or glass. These options are a bit more expensive than reusable plastic bottles but they both last longer and eliminate the chance of chemicals (BPA) leaching into your drink.

Read more in our article on soft drinks and the environment.

Cosmetics and toiletries

Lush bath bombs

It can be tough to find health and beauty products that are toxic-free and from companies that don’t test on animals.

We have a number of guides that make it much easier to navigate these markets and find vegan-friendly options that contain fewer (or no) harmful chemicals.

Among our Best Buys are Lush and Neal’s Yard*, which are both widely available on the high street.

Check out more Best Buys in our guides to:

Reusable Food Wraps

image: a selection of beeswax food wraps

Single-use plastics are often unnecessary and add to the vast amounts of plastic already damaging ecosystems around the world. The plastic in our oceans could already circle the planet 400 times.

You can help the family cut down on their plastic waste with reusable food wraps. These convenient products are a fun way to keep food fresh and they come in a range of different patterns.

Whilst beeswax wraps have become popular, you can also get vegan food wraps. Ethical Shop even sells food wraps coated with rice bran wax.

Read our guide to plastic free kitchens to see what else you could add to the mix to make a plastic-free starter kit in time for mother's day…


Image: books

Books always make a good gift, and we can help you find one without using Amazon, who we are boycotting due to their likely tax avoidance.

It’s always best to use your local independent book shop, but if you do want to buy the latest best seller online you could try one of our Best Buy companies (World of Books, Oxfam second hand or, or xigxag for audio) or recommended companies (Better World Books and Biblio).

Solid shampoo bar

image: shampoo bar ethical mothers day gift

This could be a great gift for animal-loving ladies. Lots of shampoo companies are owned by cosmetics companies, so most mainstream shampoo isn’t cruelty free.

There are plenty of organic options out there but we’d recommend buying a shampoo bar to avoid plastic waste.

Faith in Nature and LUSH both offer shampoo bars as an effective lower-input alternative. Friendly Soap only makes solid shampoo bars. These brands sell vegan products and are cruelty-free (not tested on animals).

An ethical t-shirt

Row of brightly coloured t-shirts viewed side on

When buying an ethical t-shirt, always go for 100% organic cotton if possible to avoid the many problems associated with cotton production, from child labour to the use of toxic pesticides.

You could also think about buying a t-shirt made of recycled materials, although if you do this it’s worth finding one made purely from cotton rather than one made from a blended fabric so that it can be recycled again at the end of its life.

Linen and hemp t-shirts are also good options as these are made of sustainable fabrics.

We recommend organic cotton t-shirts from a variety of ethical brands in our ethical shopping guide to t-shirts.

Some brands also offer organic cotton and fair trade t-shirts.

Vegan mother's day hamper

image: ethical goodie basket mother's day
The ethical goodie hamper that we gave away last Christmas. It includes vegan chocolates and a reuseable food flask.

If your mum is vegan or has expressed an interest in becoming vegan, why not make a vegan hamper with a selection of treats such as tea and coffee, biscuits, chocolate, wine or even vegan cheese.

You could make your own with most of these products if you had the time, but the key to buying well here is to look carefully for fair trade, organic, sustainably sourced palm oil/palm oil free products.

This sounds like a lot but our guides should help. See how many things you can find that tick all the boxes, but in general choosing Best Buys from our guides should be more than enough.

Plamil does the job perfectly as a vegan chocolate company that offers Fairtrade and organic goods. Their chocolates may not be palm oil free, but they do source their palm oil from an organic and sustainable RSPO supply chain that has been independently audited.

Beyond consumerism

image: record playing record player mothers day gift

Don’t think that you have to buy something to let your mum know that you care (or indeed that you should only do this on Mother’s Day).

You could just spend some quality time together; take a walk, listen to your mum's favourite music with her, go to a concert, have lunch together, make something together, help your mum out with some gardening or offer to help with jobs around the house.

One (or more) of these activities could serve as a really meaningful gift for your mum.

You could also upcycle some of her favourite old clothes that she no longer wears and repurpose them into something else for her. Read our article on upcycling.

DIY or recycled card

image: mother's day card

If you can’t be there to wish your mum a happy mother’s day in person you might want to send a card. There are 2 billion greetings cards sold annually in the UK which requires chopping down 500,000 trees, and delivery has an additional carbon cost.

This being the case, you might want to send a card made of recycled materials. Better yet, you could take the opportunity to get creative and make your own.

A gift subscription to Ethical Consumer

Don’t forget that you could always get your mum a year's subscription to Ethical Consumer magazine.

Each gift subscription includes sponsorship of an organic olive sapling in Palestine.