Planet present

Christmas doesn’t have to mean throwing your ethics out with the leftovers. Here are our alternatives for great festive gift buying this year

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Environmental Justice Foundation 

This UK-based charity works internationally to protect the environment and defend human rights. Currently it is campaigning to protect marine environments and climate refugees, and against environmental abuses in international product supply chains and the use of dangerous toxic pesticides. The EJF’s Just-For t-shirt, sweater and vest lines make for great presents. For reasonable prices you can get designs from the likes of Luella Bartley and Betty Jackson and make an ethical fashion statement. 100 per cent of the profits from the sales go to the international campaigns.

Top pick: Emma Cook’s women’s t-shirt, £30, in support of Save the Sea/Oceans

Big barn

The true meaning of Christmas, of course, is food but it’s important to think about making ethical choices when buying such a vast amount of it. Food packaging creates a lots of waste and food waste can be outrageous following the big day too (try contacting your local homeless shelter and see if they take leftovers). Sourcing organic, local produce can be time consuming and daunting but aims to cut out much of the hassle. Its mission is to reverse the anti-social trend of the UK food industry, toward big business and mass production, by reconnecting consumers with their local producers and encouraging local trade. It gives farmers a better deal and consumers fresher, cheaper, accountable food. A local food map will show you where to shop near you and many of the producers will deliver. You can also search by the product you’re shopping for.

Top pick: John Wright Turkeys, Hull – slow growing, free range birds that develop a succulent, fuller flavour. Holly Tree Christmas Geese and Turkeys, Knutsford – home reared in open straw-filled barns or free range and allowed to mature naturally for great flavour.

PAUK1065rgbParkinson’s UK

Most charities sell Christmas cards and gift wrap now and many do a great range of gifts too. Parkinson’s UK has one of the most extensive ranges. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, which degenerates the nervous system, but it affects one in 500 people. Parkinson’s UK supports sufferers and funds research – much of which is being carried out in the north. By Christmas shopping via you’ll be contributing directly to that.

Top pick: a great range of crafty gifts including easy teddies to knit (patterns), £12; sewing spool holder, £8.99; and the ReCraft book, £12.99, which has 50 simple home upcycling projects.

Dogs Trust

We all know by now that a dog is not just for Christmas but many responsible future owners will want to give the gift of a best friend. The case for rehoming dogs can’t be stressed enough. Currently on the Dogs Trust ( website there are 44 canines in need of adoption in Leeds, 49 in Manchester and 57 in Merseyside – some are puppies, many are thoroughbred and all are very cute. In addition there’s a Christmas shop full of pawsome presents for your two or four legged friends (

Top pick: Lancashire-based Cat’s Dog Photography ( has made its own calendar in aid of Dogs Trust, £9.99. All profits go to the charity and it’s aiming to raise £500. To order one see

World Vision

Another way of Christmas shopping and supporting a charity is to buy gifts for those who need them most in the name of one of your loved ones. World Vision’s Must Have Gifts ( transform lives in the poorest communities and this year is running a special gift appeal for the refugee crisis. From a winter coat to pots and pans you can choose what you want to provide a refugee with. If you’d like to spend on something more personal you can contribute to one of the many grassroots projects supporting refugees in the Calais jungle. You can find local groups and drop-off points here:

Top pick: help Syrian refugee children on the Serbian-Hungarian border and in Lebanon be children at Christmas with toys for a children’s centre, £14, from World Vision’s Must Have Gifts. 

Good gifts

Similarly Good Gifts ( cuts out the unwanted gifts and gives practical help to those in need. With Little Good Gifts from around £8 you can provide hot meals for pensioners, footballs for African schools or oak saplings for UK woodlands. Gigantic Good Gifts include funding degrees for African orphans, paying for a school library in a poor Indian town and, remarkably, for £5,250 you can protect 100 acres of rainforest.

Top pick: child’s bedroom, £65. This gift of essentials like a duvet, curtains and furniture helps homeless families set up home.  


A great one-stop ethical shop, Traidcraft ( buys and sells a huge range of fair trade products, runs developmental projects such as Bee Empowered – helping beekeepers to work together in co-operatives in Tanzania – and campaigns for fair trading.

Top pick: olive wood nativity set, £98, made by Palestine’s Holy Land Handicrafts, comes from Bethlehem. Hand carved to stunning effect it will be a focal point of many Christmases to come. (Main Picture)

Ethical Kidz

It often feels like we buy for our kids for the sake of it at Christmas. Ethical Kidz makes that feel a bit less wasteful. It’s a family business committed to environmentally-friendly toys, instilling an ethical and sustainable mindset in children and raising money for charity.

Top pick: flower press, £9.95. A great way of engaging children with nature, the press is easy to use and creates beautiful pressed flowers to use in art and craft projects. Oscar and Ellen twin bunnies dressing-up bag, £23.95. 

penguinrgbChester Zoo

Animal adoption is a great way of introducing children to conservation issues and countering the amount of unwanted gifts and landfill consumerism that Christmas creates. The WWF and Born Free are two big charities in the field that offer adoptions  of lots of animals for as little as £3 a month. Zoos do vital conservation work too and if you support a local zoo with an adoption you have the added bonus of being able to visit your animal.

Top pick: Chester Zoo junior penguin adoption, £55 ( Proceeds from the adoption help fund Chester Zoo’s conservation work in the UK and around the world. You’ll receive two admission tickets, a cuddly penguin, the adoptee’s name on a thank-you plaque near the zoo’s penguins, a magazine, thank-you letter and card, adoption certificate, stickers, fact sheets, puzzles and a picture of your penguin. Chester Zoo also leads conservation campaign Act for Wildlife (

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