Shop Like You Give A Damn reveals the impact of the UK’s Christmas presents

Latest News

A new report by Shop Like You Give A Damn reveals the ethical and environmental impact of the UK’s Christmas presents, with tips to make sustainable choices.

Online supermarket Shop Like You Give A Damn has released a new report revealing the ethical and environmental impact of Christmas gifts in the UK.

Shop Like You Give A Damn found that clothes and shoes are the most gifted presents during Christmas in the UK, followed by food and drinks, health and beauty products, toys and games, books, jewellery, vouchers, music, movies and computers, in that order.

The study revealed that woollen socks have the highest carbon emissions amongst sock materials, amounting to 5.74kg of carbon dioxide equivalent. A fast fashion cotton pyjama set wastes 50% of usable material, and uses 20,000 litres of water (about six weeks of water usage in a two-person UK household).

Woollen jumpers, hats and scarves all use 375, 150 and 75 litres of water, while a pair of leather gloves use 21.8 litres. Animal-based leather also takes 50 to 100 years to break down, much longer than biodegradable plant-based leather.

The makeup and toiletries industry leads to the death of 500,000 animals every year as a result of testing. A moisturiser container takes 1000 years to decompose, and 120 billion units of packaging are produced by the cosmetics industry every year. Since 1985, there has been a 400% increase in the consumption of beauty products in the UK. If that continues, 12 billion tonnes of plastic will go into landfill by 2050.

Shop Like You Give A Damn’s report also touched on the impact of face masks, candles and blankets. An hour of burning a paraffin candle produces 10g of carbon dioxide equivalent, and the creation of a cotton, reusable face mask produces 60g; but a standard-sized woollen blanket produces 97.6kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The study adds that the manufacture of a standard soft toy produces 0.77kg of carbon dioxide equivalent, a battery-operated soft toy produces 1.34kg, and plastic toys like LEGO produce 1.79kg.

It also assessed jewellery, revealing that a pair of earrings, a ring and a necklace produce 31kg, 107kg and 109kg of carbon dioxide equivalent respectively when using mined gold, as opposed to 0.16kg, 0.53kg and 0.54kg when using recycled.

Shop Like You Give A Damn provided suggestions to make more sustainable choices for Christmas gifts, including buying some secondhand presents, tracing back raw materials and labour laws, choosing vegan gifts and wrapping them without paper or sticky tape.

Read our story on the best vegan Christmas gifts for 2020.

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.