Eco-friendly wedding presents for green-at-heart couples

Eco-friendly wedding presents for green-at-heart couples

You've got weddings or civil partnerships coming up. The happy couples have eschewed a list at a department store, saying airily that 'anything recyclable, bio-degradable or generally CO2-lite will be simply divine!' Rejoice, there's much that fits the bill

By Abby Trow
flowers flowers and more flowers are essential at weddings

Wedding gifts used to be vitally important to young couples setting up home, but these days we tend to be marrying later (come on chaps, pop the question before she hits pension age..) and tend to have sheets, towels and frying pans in our possession. So when it comes to gifts, there's more leeway to be imaginative and less pressure to spend a fortune. 

*Click on images to see them in larger format with caption info

The days of being informed with the invitation that the wedding/civil partnership list is at Harrods, John Lewis or Selfridges seem to on the wane, thank heavens - certainly among older couples and second-time rounders.

But everyone likes to give something to the happy couple, and while it might sound horribly worthy and possibly even a bit disingenuous, there are folks out there who generally would like presents that are eco-friendly or at least not actively un-eco. And longevity is also valued in a gift, of course.

Kitchen/homeware

Which is where kitchenware comes in as it tends to do decades of service. But think attractive rather than merely utilitarian.

You can never have enough ceramic serving platters, wooden boards, nice mugs and glasses - while and another thing people tend not to buy themselves are stylish salt and pepper pinch pots. Vases too tend to be things people lack. LSA International, which manufactures in Poland, has lovely glassware included vases in recycled glass. For delightful porcelain vases, look to Sue Ure, a ceramicist based in France who makes beautiful vases in organic shapes with gorgeous pastel glazes.

For recycled glass trivets that are almost works of art in themselves, browse the range from artist and designer Andrew Flint. And for affordable porcelain for daily use, it's back to Sue Ure whose Sue Ure Maison range is slip cast using moulds from her original designs. Bowls, sugar bowls, mugs and small handleless milk jugs come in subtle colours. Find them here

Sue Ure wheel-thrown vases come in lovely pastel shades. Yellow Alto vase (fourth from left) £36.75 at Azalee Interiors. www.sueureceramics.com
A stunner of a glass trivet - Hibiscus on black by Andrew Flint Design, £40
This stainless steel UK-made cutlery is fantastic. It's Pride by David Mellor, designed in 1953. Lovely to use, timelessly elegant, a six piece set is in the sale at £87.20. www.davidmellordesign.com
Hug Rug's barrier mats are soft, stylish and super eco being made from recycled cotton, recycled plastic and natural rubber. From £39.99. hugrug.com
Personalised oak cheese board from The Oak & Rope Company
Pure linen tablecloth by LinenMe, 170x250cm £89.99
Little stackable porcelain bowls by Sue Ure Maison, £15 in deco shop. 180ml capacity. 4 colours.
Black granite and cream porcelain pinch pots by UK maker John Julian, £25. www.johnjulian.co.uk
Double tier oak egg rack by Hop & Peck, £50 at notonthehighstreet.com
Midnattsol 3.5L hand-enamelled steel casserole pot by Scandinavian company Isak, £25. www.isak.co.uk
Beech long wood serving board, personalised, handmade by Lancs based William Firth, £29. williamfirthwoodcraft.co.uk

Large cooking pots are something certainly young people often seem to lack and they're really useful for family gatherings that will surely be ensuing. So the 3.5L pot in the stylish Midnattsol design by Scandinavian brand Isak is a good gift that should see years of use. Made from enamelled steel, it's a snip at £25.

For substantial wooden boards for bread, veg chopping, cheeses, serving etc, we love The Oak & Rope Company, which offers finely crafted personalised solid oak gifts with your couple's names. A daily reminder of their big day. William Firth too is a woodworker who makes lovely boards and knives at his Lancs studio using a variety of British woods. He offers personalised products too.

Now really functional presents can be great. Hug Rugs will have recipients rejoicing once they realise how good these barrier mats are at keeping floors clean. They come in a huge array of super designs and colourways and have an amazing eco story.. in that they're made in Yorkshire from recycled cotton, recycled plastic and natural rubber. From £39.99.

Tablecloths are functional and they work for beautify the table. Big linen cloths are great - but they're quite pricey so to receive one as a gift would be a delight. Check out LinenMe and The Linen Company. The former's 170x250 stonewashed linen cloths costs £89.99

Trees & plants

Gift sponsor an olive tree in Liguria via Nudo Adopt. www.nudoadopt.com
Hydrangea plants are also good because they can grow in gloomy corners of a garden
Mini orange trees are lovely and should give years of pleasure. They really are easy to look after...well they say that.
Acers are good trees to give as gifts to those with a garden

Thinking green does make you think of trees or plants, of course. If your friends really don't want any more stuff to clutter up their home, or state on their invitation that no presents are required, you could have a tree planted for them in the Brazilian rainforest or the Scottish highlandsWorld Land Trust is a just one organisation that will plant a tree on your behalf. Or you could gift sponsor them an olive tree in Liguria, Italy, via Nudo Adopt and they will get some olive oil from the estate their tree's in delivered to their door a couple of times a year. 

We're all being encouraged to get more plants into our homes and gardens, so couples will thank you for greenery that isn't hard to maintain.. Those with gardens might like a tree and the Tree & Garden GIft Company can advise on what species of tree will be suitable for the part of the world where the recipients live. At the other end of spectrum why not give a collection of succulents or cactii that can live on your couple's windowsill. Blueleaf Plants in Kent grows succulents and will help out with gifts.

Interior designer Paul Warren suggests indoor citrus plants as a gift few wouldn't welcome. They aren't expensive, don't need much looking after and (should....) produce fruit year after year. 'And I find they're the sort of plant that always cheers you up, it's something about the mini fruits...they're so endearing to look at, if not eat!'

He also suggests cutlery - we all have it, but lots of us have nasty cheap stuff. He waxes lyrical about Pride, the classic, elegant, timeless stainless steel cutlery designed by British designer David Mellor in 1953, which, he enthuses, will make mealtimes infinitely more enjoyable. 'Good cutlery is about proportion and weight. A lot of cheaper cutlery is very chunky and makes nasty scraping sounds on plates. Pride is slender, beautifully unadorned and feel the right weight in your hand. I think it's a wonderful design.'

Art

 

Girl in the Sand, late '60s, by Nigel Trow. Limited edition of 30 prints available, from £34.99 in the deco shop
1965 Travel Poster by Roger Marcel Limouse (1894-1990) 100x62cm, from a wide range at www.antikbar.co.uk
Skinny screen printed cork world map by Rory Lawrence at www.mobymaps.com, £95 . Choice of colours available. Great gift for keen travellers
Make A Wish plaster relief series by Littleworks Creative, £95 framed. part of triptych. www.decomag.co.uk/catalog
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Original oil paintings are probably out of your budget, but don't rule out art because it really does make a house/flat/studio a home. Tamara Williams of Littleworks Creative makes beautiful artworks using raised relief techniques on plaster - her Make A Wish framed tiles would be hard not to love... they cost £95 each and you could go for the tryptych if you're feeling flush. Find them in our deco shop. 

For original vintage posters check out renowned dealer AntikBar, and also look out for photographic prints which look terrific in simple black frames and grouped together on a wall. For '60s aficionados, take a look at the limited edition prints of photographs taken in the 1960s by working photographer Nigel Trow. Genres include fashion and travel. Prices from £34.99.

Maps are nice things to live with, and the hand-made screen-printed cork maps by Rory Lawrence at Moby Maps are special yet affordable. Landscape shape world maps cost £95 and come in a choice of colours. Use them as a pinboard too.

Give luxury versions of the things we use everyday

North London-based market researcher and psychologist Dr Clare Mansfield says the knack with gifts is either to give something that's that bit too expensive for us to buy for ourselves, which we'd nonetheless like because it's useful - for example luxury bedlinen, or special mugs or bathmats - or things that are a bit quirky that we'd never root out for ourselves.  

'And if you have money to spare, you can obviously choose gifts that are unashamedly luxurious..a beautiful picture or piece of ceramic, something that is long lasting and lovely to own.

'But most of us don't have too much spare cash, so don't think it's boring to buy a nicer version of an everyday item. A Dualit toaster, for example, is a toaster, but it'll give huge pleasure because it's so well-made and stylish. A bog-standard 30-quid toaster probably won't stir much emotion. Likewise, an 800-thread count organic cotton sheet will be a delight, whereas a polycotton sheet from a chain store's value range won't make us want to leap into bed.'

And on that note, let's wish all happy couples good luck.

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