Guilt-free Gifting

our ultimate guide to shopping small & products made in the UK with the lowest carbon footprint for every budget

christmas fair made in UK products

Table of Contents

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash
It is so very easy to be swept into the digital scroll of big-brand shopping.

Flashy sales promising the world. Numbers thrown at you from every direction. Models laughing in front of someone’s pastel-coloured front door at nothing in particular.

Before you know it, a basket full of stuff is dancing at you from the top right of your screen. When these items arrive at our doorsteps – packaged up in plastic or curled into cardboard boxes – we can forget the wild voyage they have taken to get here. Think Lord of The Rings but for a pair of shoes – or a notebook – or a mug.

These items, born from raw materials from different corners of the earth, created in faraway workshops, shipped across seas and flown across skies. You may have heard calls to support local business and independent shops instead – but why does buying made in UK products matter?

COMMUNITY

 Supporting local businesses helps to create and maintain community. Think about a space local to you – is it an independent bookshop? A small café? These are usually the spaces that host events and get-togethers. If these spaces were to disappear, so would a lot of these communal gathering spaces. Independent businesses also support other independent businesses. Think of it like a spider-web of community, continually spiralling outward. 

uk small business community

ECONOMY

 

 

 

By purchasing from UK small businesses, you are helping entrepreneurs (who are vital for a healthy economy). Research shows that for every £1 spent at a local independent shop, 63p circulates back into the local economy, contrasted to 40p with a bigger company. These businesses also create jobs for people – and, hopefully meaningful work too – with more flexibility and creativity than perhaps larger corporations.

 

 

 

ETHICS

 By buying made in UK products, it is easier to keep track of the supply chain. When buying form large co-corporations, their supply chains are often so long, complex and vague that they can mask all sorts of issues and violations. For example, the rights of garment workers in the Global South are woefully ignored because their place in the production line is so rarely (or poorly) considered by these large companies. 

In contrast, the supply chain of small businesses can be more easily traced. This heightens the sense of accountability UK businesses have, increasing the pressure to behave fairly and ethically, and take responsibility for their actions (of course, all businesses no matter how big or small should behave this way!). For more information about the supply chains in fast fashion, see this journal.

 

made in uk products

CONNECTION

handmade repurposed glassware uk

 

The benefit of shorter, more transparent supply chains is also that you feel more connected to the product that ends up in your hands. When you can track the voyage more easily – brush your finger across the map and trace each pit-stop on your item’s journey – there is a tangible link between the product’s beginning and its place with you now. 

Industrialisation has changed our relationship with items (a bit more on this in our biophilia design blog). When items have convoluted supply chains or are formed in long mechanical production lines in soulless factories – do we feel very connected to them? Buying made in  UK products from small business can heal this break-up piece by piece.

 

CARBON FOOTPRINT

 

Products made in UK travel many less miles to reach your door. This reduces emissions and cuts the carbon-footprint hugely. Hopefully, it’s also within the interests of UK small business to try and be sustainable and boost their eco-credentials.

 

uk creative business

 

At Old Green, founder Tori’s inspiration was sparked whilst she was working at a pub to make ends meet and was entranced by the glittering bottles lining the shelves. It struck her how well-made these products were, right through from design to manufacturing. However, once they served this single purpose, they were seen as disposable – all that work, time, effort and skill ferried away in recycling boxes. 

 

 

Old Green believes in building a kind, circular economy where the lives of items are extended for as long as possible. All of our glassware – from candles to teacup holders to cocktail glasses to planters to tea light tumblers – are made from repurposed glass. Reducing that carbon footprint even further. Paying tribute to those jewel-glinting bottles huddled in that pub.

 

A FRIENDLY FACE

 

 

 

If you have any issues with your item/order, or even any ideas or suggestions, you can easily contact the makers and creators for a chat.

At markets and fairs you get the opportunity to meet the team too. This contrasts the impersonal contact system of big brands, where you are added to a long queue on a phone call or lost in generic emails.

Again, this contributes to the feeling of being connected to the item in your hand.

 

 

CELEBRATION OF THE UNIQUE

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping made in UK products from small businesses ensures that your items aren’t mass produced – but lovingly made, original and unique.

 

 

 

 

 

MAKING SOMEONE'S DREAM COME TRUE

This may sound a little cliché, but by supporting small UK businesses you are literally helping to turn someone’s dream into a reality. Every sale that goes through for a small business slaps a smile straight on someone’s face – rather than just becoming another number that’s added to a digital database. Shopping small and cheerleading for independent, UK products means you are fighting for creativity, community and kindness. 

Christmas can be a make-or-break time for many small businesses – with festive sales taking up between 1/3 to 2/3 of annual turnover. So, if you want to make a Christmas wish come true this year for a small business – maybe sprinkle a few items from different makers onto your list.

support small uk business
To find out more & support the campaign that is encouraging small & independent businesses & creative folk, check out @justacard. Image credit to @justacard and @winkdesignuk

MADE IN THE UK
GIFTS

Gifts Under £10

For made in UK, vegan and totally natural (no synthetics!) skincare, check out Sknfed. Their Cocoa & Vanilla Organic Face Soap is £8.95 – a delicious treat for some pampering in the Christmas chaos

Or, for a festive cinnamon and shea soap for £5.80, see Wild Sage

For a zero waste scunchie made in UK from waste material, see The Conscious Sewist (£9-10)

For the plant-lover or gardener in your life, these lino-printed (By BethLouLew Design) seed-saving packets would make a thoughtful gift. £6 for 6 packets

made in the UK natural candle
To scatter some light into your loved one’s life, how about our old green naked tealights? £10 (and pair with a magical tealight cup to keep them cosy, £3)

How about a mighty oak-leaf and acorn lino-designed (by Beth Lewis art) notebook, £8.50

For an experience gift, how about Wild Folk’s Winter Solstice Family Storytelling in the Woods? Adult £9, Child £8 (Bristol Forest School, BS8 3RA)

Gifts Under £25

Ceramics can make a gorgeous gift. They are the sort of thing that can bring so much joy to the daily routine (e.g. a morning coffee in a lovely handmade mug) – but many would never treat themselves to.

This two-tone cup from Wendy Calder is available in three natural designs (alium, cow parsley and dandelion) £24

To help create that magical festive tablescape, how about our tea light domes? £14

Or how about these enchanting contrast handle coffee cups? £22

Or this wildflower spoon rest by Lindy Garner? £16

For a bit of jewellery, how about these Mix & Match stud earrings crafted from silver off cuts? From NODO, £15 each

made in uk handmade glassware
For that cocktail-lover, check out our tiki tumbler using repurposed glass! £12

Gifts Under £40

These hanging blackbirds for your home from print & pattern marker Kate Millbank – £22 (It may be too late for Xmas delivery for this one but could make a wonderful belated Xmas pressie or pop it in your locker for future gifting!)

Seasonal foraging poster – perfect for any foragers or nature lovers in your life! £26 and still available in Autumn

This beautiful moon phase ring by Hummingbird Hawkmoth – an eco-conscious jeweller who handmakes each piece using recycled silver. Perfect for the moon-lover or mystic, £35

Or, perhaps this stylish geometric bangle? £35

uk natural handmade candle
What about a large, OG candle in one of our essential oil blends? A candle for every season with a really long burn time of 50-60 hours. £28

For an experience event, how about this Winter Solstice: Music, Dinner and Storytelling event for £30? (16+, Bristol Forest School, BS8 3RA)

Or, if you fancy an experience in the spring, what about the Forest Bathing Walk in Leigh Woods, Dorset? (£40)

There is so much joy to be had from supporting UK small business.

The connections you can make with people, the love-affair you might begin with that unique item you’ve purchased, the tummy-smiling sensation that you have made someone’s day by shaking your (reusable) pompoms for their company.

That one buy might be just the thing that encourages a small business, crafter or maker to keep going. If you are blessed with choice this Xmas, then why don’t you give some made in the UK products a try for that Christmas stocking or Secret Santa? Your purchase will be voting for the kind of world where community, creativity and considered buying begin to overtake the mass production line of mechanical consumerism. And that tastes nearly as wonderful as a slab of Christmas cake. (Maybe).

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