Christmas gifts that are creatively re-using waste

| 6th December 2018
Lush cosmetics
Gift ideas from businesses channelling their creativity into waste reduction methods.


Two billion tonnes of waste are produced annually, making it a real danger to our planet. This figure is expected to grow to four billion by 2100

Schemes and initiatives have been introduced to encourage recycling, but most of our waste continues to end up on landfill sites.

Waste is not only deposited in landfills and buried deep underground; some of it ends up in our oceans illegally. According to some studies, 1.4 billion pounds of rubbish ends up in our waters each year, severely impacting marine life — so much so, scientists have estimated that the amount of plastic will outweigh the fish by 2050.

Sustainable products 

Ninety-nine percent of the items we purchase are disposed of within a six-month period. Because of this, more businesses around the world are looking at more sustainable ways to create their products in a bid to help better the world that we live in. 

Here, Traidcraft - producers of fair trade food & drink, gifts and handmade Christmas decorations - take a look at businesses that are channelling their creativity into waste reduction methods.

Recycled tableware 

Ngwenya Glass has been producing quality glassware since 1979. Originally set up as a Swedish Aid Project, Ngwenya Glass now trains over 60 people in the art of glassblowing to create one-of-a-kind pieces of ethical homeware.

Every day, Ngwenya Glass prove that a commitment to protecting the environment can exist hand in hand with commercial success. All products are handcrafted from 100 percent recycled glass, sourced from throughout Eswatini by local people.

Ngwenya Glass encourages communities to come together for clean-up days along main roads in the area to gather discarded glass. Most of the glass used to be soft drink bottles!

Ngwenya Glass pay these glass-gatherers by the kilo, while empowering them to conserve their environment, too.

The business also works with local schools to educate young people in the importance of environmentalism and recycling, and supports schools with building materials and learning resources.


Wasteboards are a company that create traditional skateboards with an eco-friendly element, in a bid to reduce waste within Amsterdam. Research has suggested that there are 20,000 plastic bottles  bought every second, this forward-thinking company collect plastic bottle tops to create the deck of the board. 

Wasteboards also believe in helping out the local community and encourage people to collect bottle tops from a range of events to ensure they can continue the development of unique skateboards. As well as this, fishermen who use the canals in Amsterdam are also asked to collect as much as they can. 

One part of the appeal is that each board is handmade and moulded into a design that creates an aesthetically pleasing product. This company loves the idea of being sustainable and being able to sell a sustainable product, so even if your wasteboard breaks — they’ll recycle the broken plastic and create you a new one!

Re-Kånken and Eco-Shell

British consumers have already latched onto the Kånken bag. Originating from a small town in Sweden, the company focuses on outdoor clothing and equipment and is committed to making nature more accessible for adventurers alike while having a focus on the simplicity of their products. 

Although they pride themselves on simplicity, the crafting of the bag is much more complex. To play their part in helping the environment, they released the Re-Kånken bag which is made entirely from polyester recycled from plastic bottles. As well as this, it is dyed with SpinDye technology which ‘radically reduces’ the amount of water, energy and chemicals used.

The Eco-Shell is another product from Fjällräven that avoids using materials that harm the environment. Eco-Shell is also made from recycled polyester and unlike many other products on the market, perflourinated chemicals are not involved in the creation. 

Lush cosmetics

Renowned as one of the eco-friendliest high street brands in the UK, it’s no surprise that Lush Cosmetics take their place on this esteemed list.

Lush claim to be 100% vegetarian, promote ethical buying, fight animal testing, craft their products by hand and offer naked packaging products which is helping reduce the chaotic packaging crisis Britain is now facing.

According to some figures, each person uses around 200 pounds of plastic a year — 60 pounds of which is thrown away instantly. This has highlighted a huge problem and put great responsibility upon businesses internationally and through innovative design, Lush Cosmetics were able to develop several products that didn’t require packaging to sell.

From shower gels to shampoos, there are plenty of naked products available. As well as this, all of plastic used by Lush is 100 percent recycled. 

Thinking creatively 

These are only a few of the many businesses trying to play their part in helping the environment.

This proves that the ability to be creative and think outside of the box can truly have admirable benefits that help both people and planet. Could you get more creative with your waste? 

This Author 

Jo Lambert is a Digital Marketing Manager at Traidcraft, a company specializing in a wide range of organic, hand made and fair trade products from food and drink to clothing and gifts.


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate here