The good gift guide

A great Christmas present needn't cost the Earth. Sophie Morris asks Britain's eco-experts to unwrap (using recycled paper, of course) their favourite green festive offerings
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The Independent Online

Mel Young, editor of New Consumer magazine

"I will be giving some Fairtrade footballs from Fair Deal Trading (, from £9.49), maybe to one of my children. They're hand-stitched and come from Pakistan, so in the process you get a really good football and people in Pakistan are getting jobs and working in good conditions. In the past, ethical fashion wasn't very fashionable - it was all stripy jumpers and a bit hippieish. Now the ranges are fabulous and you can pick up some very stylish stuff from Hug ( or People Tree. You have to have chocolate at Christmas, and Divine ( have a fantastic range. For my wife or friends, Silver Chilli ( has great jewellery - it's important to check jewellery has the authentic Fairtrade mark. I'm a great believer in sustainable products. I have a good friend who's a beer drinker, so he's going to get Fairtrade beer and then he can let me know what he thinks about it. I'm giving him Mongozo ( but there's also an ethical beer from Palestine called Taybeh and Black Isles beers from Scotland. With Oxfam's goat scheme, if buying one means that someone in that village can have a better life then I'm all for it; but I'm not so keen if it means it's just another way of getting another donation. I've done it in the past but I probably wouldn't do it again."

Donnachadh McCarthy, environmental author and campaigner

"I don't buy many presents because I look at Christmas as a time for hibernation, reflection and recharging rather than as a consumer splurge. I will be getting a pressure cooker for a friend because they are more energy efficient. A really fun present to get anyone with a wood burner is an eco fan (, which blows the warm air into the other rooms in the house. Much of the problem is the number of presents that are not used. One way around this is to buy theatre or cinema ticket tokens."

Kara DiCamillo, author of's Ethical Gift Guide

"There's a big trend for donating to non-profit organisations, such as buying carbon credits. With Terrapass ( you can offset carbon emissions for your car, air travel and home. In terms of eco-friendly interiors, I'm seeing a lot of bamboo, mostly in the kitchen. Bambu ( makes a lot of great stuff, and it's heat-resistant. For stocking fillers I'd get cool gifts like an iPod case made out of recycled plastic ( www.thejimi.comc). My boyfriend will be getting a solar-powered wireless camera or video camera."

Julia Stephenson, The Independent's Green Goddess

"Gift-buying can get crazy, so I give something to my mother, father and boyfriend and that's about it. I like presents that people can use and food is always popular. I grow herbs, so I make herb-flavoured olive oil. I roast organic nuts like pecans and cashews - soak them, put on lots of salt and pepper and roast them at your oven's lowest temperature and they crisp up. One of my relatives wants a water filter, which sounded quite dreary, but actually if somebody sorted it all out and did the paperwork, and you didn't have to buy bottled water again, it would be a very useful present. The other thing is a subscription to a farm box. I use a company called Farmaround ( Last year I gave my boyfriend Arsenal tickets for both of us, which was a real sacrifice for me as I can't stand football. Things like theatre tickets or subscriptions to a magazine or gallery won't get lost or stolen or broken. I suppose a happy memory is the most eco-friendly thing of all."

Jon Snow, Channel 4 News presenter and president of CTC, the national cyclists' association

"My first thought is of a brick for the cistern, for someone I like a lot. I'm also thinking of an apple tree. Obviously it will have to be put in a position where it can produce some fruit but can also absorb some carbon emissions. They can be in tubs so if they're garden-less we can get it out on the balcony ( If I can't impact on their lives I can help them impact on others through Oxfam's gifts ( Last Christmas I got a goat and another bicycle and I'm sure I'll be doing a bit of that this year. Now you get a choice of whom you give the goat to and two other charities are doing it this time. I will definitely by getting DVDs of An Inconvenient Truth for anybody who hasn't seen it yet and some real holly to kill off the plastic stuff, which must be a terrible defoliant. I'm collecting back issues of The Independent to wrap it all in. I go on giving away unwanted presents right through the year, until the chocolates are bursting out of their wrapping."

Corinne Bailey Rae, singer who wears ethical clothing lines and supports sustainable water projects in Africa

"I always try and buy fairly traded products and in our local church in Leeds they sell all sorts of these for people to give at Christmas. I'm going to buy some wooden toys for the children of a friend of mine who lives near us there. I also love to browse in Oxfam stores as they sell a huge array of great ethical gifts and you can buy tea, household items, mugs, gifts, cards, games, chocolate and more there. I checked out their website ( and they've linked up with eBay, so even if you can't get to a local store you can get their gifts online."

Tyler Moorehead, publisher of The Ecologist

"Jo Wood Organics has a fantastic fragrance called Usiku, which will make a great present for my girlfriends. There's a bath oil, body oil and body dew, and it's the first organic perfume I've smelt with the depth and quality of the finest scent (; from £35). I've bought a few copies of What's in this Stuff?, by Pat Thomas - a household compendium of lots of different products and what's in them. It's like a kitchen encyclopaedia and really practical. I've bought it for my less-green and not-green friends. It doesn't go against particular brand names, but it does say, 'If you're using this, you can change it for this, or you should open your windows'. It's easy to dip in and out of. I've also bought six hemp T-shirts from The Hemp Trading Company (; from £22). They're all Fairtrade and made in China. THTC gives some of its proceeds to help young offenders, who like the clothes and the ethos. Suddenly, you're getting hemp and organic clothing into the inner city - it shouldn't be the preserve of the middle classes. They're a good price, look urban and cool and are comfortable. I've bought them for a few boys I know, two girlfriends, and my husband."

Safia Minney, founder of Fairtrade fashion line People Tree

"I still have some friends and relatives who don't use Ecover, so I'll be giving them a box of that along with some organic wine or champagne, and some People Tree Fairtrade gift vouchers ( My son is quite difficult, but I'm going to buy him Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot (Penguin, £17.99), and hope he'll get through it. My daughter has been after a dog for ages, but I'm going to buy her a goat for Christian Aid instead (£60 a herd). We've developed organic-cotton shirts, so I'm going to wrap one of those up for my husband (from £35). For wrapping, I tend to use the beautiful mulberry paper we wrap our sweaters in, which is sustainably grown and supports a handmade-paper project."