5 Ideas for Finding Ethical Gifts on a Budget

Jenni Brodie ethical shopping gifts ideas value

Many people enjoy buying gifts for others just as much as they enjoy receiving them. Isn’t it lovely to spend time on carefully choosing an item that’s just right for the intended recipient, wrapping it in beautiful paper and ribbons, and then seeing their excitement as they unwrap the surprise?

Something that can make the ritual of gift-giving even better is finding a gift with a story or a special significance. And as most people are surrounded by more things than they could ever need, it is also a good idea to think about how we can make sure that the gifts we choose to give are as ethical as possible. This way our gift will not only benefit the person who receives it, but many others, too. 

Intangible and material gifts

Ethical gifts fall into two main categories: intangible and material gifts. Intangible gifts are perfect for the person in your life who will always say “oh, I don’t need anything” when you ask them what they’d like. 

While that’s probably true – most of us do have more things than is strictly necessary – this is not a helpful statement when we want to show our appreciation to our loved ones. In situations like this, intangible gifts are a good choice. They are a great way to spread joy through a thoughtful gift without the risk that it will eventually just be collecting dust on a shelf or in a cupboard. An intangible gift can also be a great eco-friendly choice.

There are, however, also times when we want the gift to be something physical. But just because you want your gift to be something for your loved one to unwrap, that doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty about making an unethical choice! There are plenty of products available that can be both ethical and affordable.

Below we have listed a few ideas for ethical, eco-friendly gifts to give your loved ones no matter what the occasion. And what’s even better, all these gifts are available at different price points, so you can find a thoughtful and ethical gift even when you are on a budget.


Charity gifts

charity shop ethical gift ideas

Charity gifts are a perfect example of a gift that doesn’t only benefit its recipient, but potentially many others, too. And another thing that makes this such a good gift choice is that it truly fits all budgets. These types of ethical gifts range from schoolbooks and mosquito nets to avocado trees, cattle and even a well for a village, and prices go from under ten pounds to over a thousand. You choose the gift, and the recipient receives a card outlining what you have donated on their behalf. No packaging, no unwanted items, just a gift that helps others. Good places to start looking for charity gifts are Unicef Market and Concern Gifts.



Another great gift that will last way beyond the time it takes to unwrap it is the gift of an experience. These days there are several companies specialising in gift experiences, which makes it easy to filter the numerous options by occasion, recipient, age, area, and price range. Restaurant meals, weekends away, escape rooms, hot air ballooning, white water rafting – you name it!  If you disregard the not so eco-friendly options on these pages (such as the numerous driving experiences on offer), experiences are a great way of giving someone a gift that does not come with lots of plastic packaging or that has required a huge number of resources to produce. There are many sites offering experience gifts, Buy a Gift and Red Letter Days being two examples.



picnic as a ethical gift

Time is something you might not think of as a gift, but it’s a good way to get really creative. Maybe you could organise a day out, like a hike or a picnic? Maybe you can make your own voucher offering yourself as a babysitter or gardener, or to fill their freezer with batch cooked meals? If you’re time-poor yourself but have more of a budget, there is also the option of buying a voucher for a cleaning, gardening, or babysitting service as a gift. Offering time is a gift that is usually particularly appreciated by those of your friends who have young children or who are busy professionals, or anyone else who could use a bit of extra time in their hectic lives. This is a great ethical option as it requires no physical resources at all, and the best part is that it doesn’t have to cost you any money either.


Home-made gifts

A home-made gift is a great way to show the recipient that you really care about them. After all, making a gift yourself usually takes much more time and effort than just adding something to your online cart. If you are good at knitting, sewing, woodwork or baking, this could be a great way to give your loved ones thoughtful, ethical gifts, but you can also find many easy options online that require no special skills at all. Anything home-made usually means less plastic packaging than store-bought, but to make sure your gift is particularly eco-friendly, a great idea is to look around you to see what you already have. Use fabric or yarn from old clothes, fruit and berries from your garden, wood offcuts, or shells from the beach. Let your creative side loose and come up with ways of reusing existing materials in all kinds of new ways. Pinterest is especially good for brainstorming easy DIY gifts.


Ethical products

We all have busy lives, so despite all the excellent ideas listed above, some of the more time-consuming options might not be realistic for you. Luckily, there is always also the option to buy a gift, and these days there are more and more ethical brands available both online and on the high street.

Here at Pretty Pink Eco-Jewellery, we design colourful, unique, hand-made jewellery that makes a perfect gift for stylish, ethically conscious women. Our products are made from sustainable materials, but they are still affordable. When you buy from us, you will know exactly where the products come from, how they have been made, what materials were used, and even who made them. 

A gift carries so much more meaning when it comes with a story and the knowledge that it was bought from a company that is trying to make a difference in the word. When you gift someone a piece of our eco-jewellery, you know your gift is not only going to bring your loved one joy for many years to come, but it is also helping a small Edinburgh-based business, our skilled workers in South America, and most importantly, the planet.

You can browse our collection for the perfect ethical gift for a loved one – or yourself – here.

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