Our obsession with new stuff is contributing to 14 million tonnes of waste going to landfill each year in the UK.
It’s a shocking statistic, but it doesn’t mean we need to cancel the Christmas presents. Our Nothing New Christmas Gift Guide is here to help you have a Christmas without the consumerism. Learn how to find the best second hand items, and discover the brands making beautiful products that are entirely made from recycled materials.
Share this guide far and wide, and remember to make second hand the first choice all year round.
Kids like playing with new toys so much we doubt they care where they came from. Charity shops, ebay and Preloved have lots to choose from, but Facebook Marketplace is our favourite for children’s stuff. Browse what’s on offer nearby or set an alert for something specific. And by keeping it local, you don’t pay for postage and can meet parents in your area at the same time. It’s arguably the only good thing Zukerberg has done for humanity.
You can also set up a Christmas toy swap. Throw in some mince pies and mulled wine and you have yourself a party!
If you’re still looking for a great gift, Junko makes fun building kits using waste cardboard from around the home. There’s also these amazing building blocks from Geomag, who make all manner of things from recycled plastic.
If you’re hosting a kids party, or have lots of little ones to please, The Toy Project sells eco party bags each filled with a second hand toy figure – much better than a soggy slice of cake!
Furniture and homewares
There’s really very little excuse to buy new furniture, especially when there are so many ways to buy second hand for your home. If you know what you are looking for, ebay, Etsy and Facebook Marketplace are great. Remember to filter for sellers near you and set an alert for your favourite searches.
If you’d rather someone did the choosing for you, here are some of our favourite curated sellers of second hand furniture and homewares. Sakes, May + Co, Scene by Chloe, Passe Prints, Jumble London, and Wallis.
And finally, here’s our pick of the best design-led homewares and furniture you won’t believe are made from 100% recycled materials:
- It’s hard to imagine that Weaver Green’s textiles are made from plastic bottles. All the products are beautiful but we particularly love their Santorini Stripe Rug, Toulouse Tablecloth and Nomad Sultan Cushion.
- Otra Vida makes very cool furniture and gifts for the home from recycled plastics. Check out their coffee tables and food platters.
- We think these wine glasses from The Recycled Glassware Company would make the perfect gift. We also love the carafe set and stand out lamps.
- This soap dish from Dyke and Dean would make a great stocking filler, and their blankets are gorgeous too.
There’s nowhere more soothing to spend your time than in a second hand bookshop. Find one near you and give the gift of a great book for those you love.
Clothes and Accessories
There’s no need to buy new clothes, whether it’s for you or someone else – we’ll tell you how.
Charity shops are on every high street and are obviously great for clothes, but with Oxfam Online the charity shop comes to you.
On Thrift+ you can search by high street or designer brands and check out their boutique for something super special.
Re-Fashion has a massive range of brands, free returns and they’ll even take your unwanted clothes in return for store credit.
There’s a reason Depop has 30 million active users. The online marketplace is full of unique designer and vintage items. Browse every brand you can imagine, and check out the sellers’ ratings to ensure you’re getting a good quality item.
There are also super brands making covetable fashion entirely from waste textiles:
- Waste Yarn Project make gorgeous jumpers from waste wool.
- Hissy Fit make the best party dresses in the UK from deadstock fabric.
- Rebekah Peters designs are wearable, colourful and all made from vintage fabrics.
- Antifom has a great knitwear section.
- Bring on summer with bright pants and two pieces from Duvet Day.
- Suermondt knitwear use recycled cashmere to make intricate and unique designs.
- As well as vintage clothes, Cow has a great reworked section.
- For kids clothes, we love the impossibly stylish Fieldplay Kids.
We’ve also selected our favourite accessories, all 100% recycled of course:
- The Lea Wallet from sustainable royalty BEEN London would make anyone happy this Christmas.
- This backpack is practical, colourful and made from plastic bottles.
- These are now the only hair combs we will use.
- Lefrik bags and accessories are chic and sustainable, and this rucksack is a classic.
- Elephant Brand makes bags that also fund education projects in Asia and Africa.
- Heard about recycled scrunchies? Well now you know.
- Bright, fun and perfect for the beach, this bag is made for summer.
- This pouch from outdoor specialists Millican is an everyday essential.
- There’s few people that won’t appreciate a new umbrella.
- It wouldn’t be Christmas without someone getting a pair of slippers.
- These cute totes are made by artisans from recycled plastic. Buy two so you can have one yourself.
Electronics and Tech
Consumer electronics is one of the world’s most polluting industries. We’ve got into the habit of upgrading and binning – a vicious cycle that generates 50 million tonnes of e-waste every year.
Don’t get new tech. Reboxed is your one stop shop for refurbished phones that are beautifully packaged like new. They also sell recycled phone accessories.
Game is a huge site with a big preowned section selling fully tested consoles and games with massive reductions.
Also check out Music Magpie. Their preowned section covers music, film, laptops, consoles, games, phones – you name it. All are professionally refurbished and come with a warranty. You can buy or rent, and even get money off when you trade in your old items.
Have you run out of time to make those festive truffles? Check out food sharing app, Olio and see if someone local to you has made too many. There’s also the new ‘Made’ section that allows you to purchase tasty treats, made by your neighbours.
Too Good To Go is another brilliant food waste app. See what your local patisserie is getting rid of at the end of the day and wow your mates at the Christmas dinner party with a professionally made cake, for free.
Cards, wrapping, decorating and crafts
Getting the decorations box out each year is a big tradition, but if you’re short a few items don’t be tempted to buy new. We’ve found lots of festive craft ideas and recycled products that will make your home look like Santa’s grotto in no time.
How about making Christmas pom poms from charity shop wool or recycled yarn?
Etsy is full of handmade upcycled decorations (some better than others!). Here is a selection of our favourites: Bird bunting, recycled paper angels, sweet paper garlands and a fantastic fabric wreath.
Renting a tree is now becoming much more mainstream, see if there’s a Christmas tree rental near you – you can even have the same tree year after year.
Make sure you buy recycled Christmas cards, like these featuring festive doors. For an extra special greeting, these cards from Know the Origin are recycled, have a seed token inside, and for each card sold a tree will be planted.
Have you kept every Christmas card you’ve ever received? Turn them into one of these creative ideas. Don’t say we didn’t think of everything!