For those of us who travel, we see not only the beauty of our planet, but also the terrible damage that tourism, commerce and consumption can exact.
The environment is a subject close to my heart, so I have put together a gift guide of useful products that won’t cost the Earth. Importantly for the traveller, most of them save space and weight – as well as the planet!
Eco Friendly Skincare
1. Give Up The Bottle! – Solid toiletries are light and do not leak, so they are very practical for travelling. They also save plastic and avoid shipping water around the world!
- Ethique Solid Skincare Products – I was so excited when these gorgeous, natural, cruelty- and plastic-free products became available in the UK in July 2019. They are available exclusively via Holland and Barrett or direct from Ethique’s UK Website, although you will need to place a large order to get free shipping if you go direct. My personal favourites are the Mintasay Shampoo and The Guardian Conditioner, invigorating Matcha, Lemongrass and Lime Bodywash and Gingersnap face scrub. Although manufactured in New Zealand, the products are zero-waste shipped to the UK.
- ‘Lush’ Shampoo / Conditioner Bars – Mark still uses the Lush solid Jasmine shampoo/conditioner bar, which came in a paper bag. I moved over to Ethique when I had my hair highlighted, as I need additional conditioning. However, in my natural state, with sensitive skin and long hair, which as a windsurfer I expose to sea water, I found the Jasmine shampoo bar didn’t irritate my scalp and kept my hair reasonably well-conditioned, even in hard water areas. They smell DIVINE and are made locally to us in Poole, Dorset.
2. New Layer Reef Friendly Sun Screen – SPF 30 in a recycled bottle. Green People also offers a sun lotion suitable for sensitive skin and those prone to prickly heat. Both are water-resistant and offer broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
Technology and Entertainment
3. Unlimited Streaming of Movies, TV, Music, ebooks and magazines – as well as secure, unlimited photo storage and speedy delivery of goods to destinations around the world. These are just some of the benefits of a subscription to Amazon Prime, which can also be shared with one other adult in your household. We have found Amazon extremely useful on our travels – for quick and hassle-free replacement of all kinds of necessities. Click here to see full details of the Prime benefits and here for a free, 30-day trial.
4. Kindle eReader – I have always been a great book lover, however, when we downsized to tour, all my precious books had to go. They were one of the hardest things to part with. I have now got used to my Kindle Paperwhite. I can read it outside, even in sunlight. It is waterproof; and I have chanced reading it in the bath – although I made sure not to drop it… In conjunction with Amazon Prime, your Kindle gives you free access to thousands of ebooks and magazines. If you are prepared to leave reviews, you can receive free Advance Review Copies (ARCs) of books from new and established authors via Booksprout.
5. Portable Solar Charger – for phones and tablets, the device has 3 outputs (2 USB and 1 Type C) can charge 3 devices simultaneously. The solar panel is a backup for the power input (an extra DC 5V 2A lead is required for this), but handy to have! The unit is IP66 waterproof, so resistant to heavy rain as well as being dust and shock-proof. From full charge, its 26800 mAh output has the capacity to re-charge your mobile phone around 7 times. It also has a handy 18 LED flashlight and hanging strap.
6. Wooden Speaker / Amplifier – compatible with mobile phones, Kindle and Tablets narrower than 12cm, this sleek, natural, hand-carved beech-wood amplifier needs no electricity! Clearly, it is not a boom box, but using the natural acoustic properties of the wood (think why guitars and violins are made of wood) and the specially designed chamber, this clever little device naturally amplifies music, your ring tone or voice calls.
7. USB Rechargeable Lighters – rain- and windproof, flameless and requiring no fuel, the Candle Lighter is ideal for lighting BBQs, campfires and candles. The stylish purple lighter is a more conventional pocket-size lighter.
Eco Friendly Holiday Gear
8. Recyclable & Biodegradable Flip Flops – cheap and durable, flip flops are widely used as holiday gear or as affordable footwear in developing countries. However, lost or discarded plastic flip flops are a major cause of marine plastic pollution. The good news is that there are now eco friendly alternatives;
- Gumbies – ‘the most comfortable flip flop in the world’ was conceived in Australia, the land of the ‘thong’, but made locally to me in Poole, using up-cycled materials. Gumbies canvas flip flops come in a variety of styles and colours.
- Rider Elite – available for men and women with a textured footbed, these flip flops are crafted from eco-friendly materials and are 100% recyclable.
- Waves Flip Flops – biodegradable, eco friendly flip flops made in the UK from natural rubber. If you’re quick, there is a Black Friday deal of 40% off everything if you enter BLACK40 at the checkout.
9. Swimwear Made from Ocean Plastic – Econyl is a form of nylon made entirely from post-consumer waste, such as abandoned fishing nets, carpets and rigid textiles. It aims to be a green alternative to the original product, which is made from oil derivatives.
- Fourth Element – this diving company is my absolute favourite for eco waterwear. They supply colourful bikinis, board shorts, T-Shirts and rash vests, with free UK and Worldwide shipping on orders over £70. Check out their women’s and men’s Xmas gift guide for inspiration and at the time of writing, the code BRIGHT10 at the checkout will get you 10% discount.
- Rubymoon Gym to Swim – Sustainable Active wear from Activists. All pieces are versatile, affordable and easily combined with each other. Also made from Econyl, the clothing is a super soft, sustainable, stretch fabric, which is vegan, durable and certified against chlorine, sunlight and saltwater.
10. Wooden Sunglasses – with funky, stylish bamboo and wooden frames, which are lightweight and reduce the use of plastic. All lenses are polarised to reduce glare and offer UV400 protection.
- ANDWOOD Bamboo Sunglasses – unisex glasses with a range of funky coloured lenses!
- Duco Polarised Wooden Driving Sunglasses – these stylish, unisex spex have 5* reviews all the way. With flexi-hinges, a cleaning cloth, fabric pouch and wooden gift case.
- Bear Essentials Sunglasses – these unisex frames with flexi-hinges have a contrasting white surround to their coloured lenses.
- Wildwood Men’s and Women’s Floating Bamboo Sunglasses – made from bamboo with flexi-hinges and a wooden gift case.
- GoWood Polarised – sturdy, high-quality men’s and women’s sunglasses in a range of different wood effects with different coloured lenses. Each pair is unique!
11. BioSunnies Biodegradable Sunglasses – made from wheat straw, these biodegradable sunnies come in a range of lovely frame colours with a gift case.
12. Bamboo Travel Towels – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy stipulated “A towel is the most important item a Hitchhiker can carry.” Lightweight, absorbent and often antibacterial, so less whiffy than microfibre, these bamboo towels are the best a Hitchhiker can get!
- Trespass Wickerman Bamboo Towel – Pros – this feels more like a terry towel and is very absorbent. Cons – it is not quick-drying or colourfast and is not big enough to wrap fully around you, although it is sufficient to dry you off.
- Secret Sea Collection Bamboo Beach Towel – Pros – a large (180 x 80cm / 70 x 35″), soft, light and versatile hamam-style, bamboo-linen towel. Quick drying, it also doubles as a beach blanket or sarong. The only Con is that it has a smooth texture, so does not feel like a conventional terry towel.
Practical Travel Accessories
13. Scrubba Portable Laundry System Washing Bag – the world’s smallest washing machine, which folds to the size of a wallet! Simply fill, close and deflate, then rub clothes against the washboard for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
14. Onya Bags – I have been using these for years – they are a fantastic, re-usable alternatives to single use plastics and are made from recycled plastic bottles. They fold up into small pouches and have a handy carabiner clip to make sure that they are always On Ya! My favourites are the Re-usable Shopping Bags in a range of vibrant colours (I have this wonderful sea-turtle on mine, which, along with other wonderful designs is also available on a foldable backpack), the re-usable netting Produce Bags and the Bread Bag which keeps your loaves fresh, even when you have singed it on the caravan gas stove…
A Gift Experience
15. Experience – rather than give a physical gift, why not give an experience? Buyagift is the UK’s leading provider of unique gift days and experiences. On offer are gifts for couples, 2 for 1 experiences from top suppliers, and if you would like something to wrap, you can order a Smartbox or eco-friendly evoucher, which is valid for 24-months and can be exchanged by the recipient free of charge. From cinema vouchers or a full-on pamper Spa Experience to Bear Grylls adventures, you will find something for everyone!
I hope that you have found this helpful and that it gives you some ideas for gifts that tread more softly on our planet. You could also consider giving home made gifts or buying second hand.
Uncommon Goods offers recycled and eco friendly gifts and stocks some wonderful and unique items, such as recycled ski bottle openers and bike chain bowls, coasters and luggage tags.
If you would like further inspiration for pawsome pressies and caravan cadeaux, please see my Gifts section.
For advice on cutting down on plastic, see my post on Zero Waste Caravanning – Save Money, Weight, Space & The Planet!
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