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
eco gifts

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. 

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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 the lord - 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.

Which makes you think straight away of trees or plants. If your friends really don't want any more stuff to clutter up their home,  you can have a tree planted for them in the Brazilian rainforest or the Scottish highlands. Or give a tree to those with gardens or a houseplant to those living in flats.

World Land Trust is a just one organisation that will plant a tree on your behalf, while for actual trees, try the Tree & Garden GIft Company, which can advise on what species will be suitable for the part of the world where the recipients live.

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!' 

Floating Houses..hand made in Spain by Mad Lab, these beautiful objets are also provide desk storage..for pens, paperclips etc.. www.mad-lab.com
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
White oak salt pot and spoon, £26.50 from www.abodeliving.co.uk
Anmut oval platter by Villeroy + Boch, £72. www.villeroy-boch.co.uk
Midnattsol 3.5L hand-enamelled steel casserole pot by Scandinavian company Isak, £25. www.isak.co.uk
Bowls, jugs and serving plates are always nice to receive..the Rick Stein Coves of Cornwall collection for John Lewis is cool and contemporary. From £10
Respectful Lion - laser cut wood, made by HU2, 10% of sale price goes to the Born Free Foundation. £175. www.HU2.com
Indoor/patio citrus trees make wonderful gifts. www.gardens4you.co.uk
Bay trees are lovely and easy to grow. From £44.99 at www.tree2mydoor.com
For a super posh orchid..if your happy couple are green of finger...the tall white phalaenopsis orchid from Flowerbx makes a stunning centrepiece. £95. www.flowerbx.com

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.' And the good news..a six piece set is in the sale until the end of July at £87.20. So if you're feeling generous you can give a set or two and get the happy couple started on building up a cutlery collection that will last until death do they part.

Kitchenware

Think attractive rather than merely utilitarian. You can never have enough ceramic serving platters, nice mugs and glasses, and another thing people tend not to buy themselves are stylish salt and pepper pinch pots. Vases too tend to be things people lack, so look for gorgeous ceramic ones or glass/recycled glass. LSA International, which manufactures in Poland, has lovely glassware and its Mia range is made from recycled glass. 

Large cooking pots are also hard to find certainly in a young couple's flat, and they're really useful for family gatherings that will surely be ensuing. Le Creuset iron pots and pans are much coveted but wildly expensive so why not give the 3.5L pot in the stylish Midnattsol design by Scandinavian brand Isak. It's made from enamelled steel and is a snip at £25.

Now functional presents can be great...if you know your couple aren't great at recycling and have a small kitchen.. well the Joseph Joseph Stack bins will turn them into recycling zealots in no time. It comprises two slender 24L bins stack on each other, topped with a food recycling bin. Made from recyclable polypropylene, Stack costs £100.

And as bottled water has become a waste plastic nightmare, water filters have grown in popularity. New to the US from the States is the Zerowater filter jug. Its ion exchange filter system removes all dissolved solids from tap water and will greatly reduce lead and chromium 6 traces in water, so it does offer a more thorough water filtration than other products. Jugs sizes vary from 1.6 t0 5.4L and prices from £24.99. Filters cost £12 and last for up to three months depending on useage.

 

Mia recycled glass dome and oak board for cheeses, cakes etc. £38. www.lsa-international.com
Mia, trio of miniature recycled glass vases for single stems, £18, www.lsa-international.com
For lovers of things vintage, a boxed tea set from Burford could be perfect. Prices from £48. www.burford.co.uk
FSC oak double tier egg rack, hand-made in UK, £45, from Highgrove. www.highgroveshop.com
Practical is good...slender polypropylene Stack recycling bins from JosephJoseph, £100
New to the UK from the US, ZeroWater water filter jug. It's a five-part filtration system that removes all dissolved solids from water as well as reducing lead and chromium 6 levels. From £24.99. www.zerowater.com

Vintage

...is an obvious genre when it comes to eco gifts, and vintage tea sets make charming gifts for friends who are more shabby chic than pristine posh. Burford has a good selection, which arrive beautifully presented in a hat box. Magpie Living has excellent products too..but note vintage china invariably won't be dishwasher safe.

Decorative ceramics and wooden objets

Ceramics are on the whole a good bet because china is made from clay, which isn't an endangered species, kilns have become much more energy efficient and should china end up in landfill, it's inert and doesn't emit anything nasty. For decorative ceramics, if you're feeling generous, a vase or pot by London-based Sophie Cook - who's known for the slender necks of her vases and pots - would be gratefully received. The UK has lots of talented ceramicists...other names to look out for include Reiko Kaneko, Ali Tomlin, Tamsin Arrowsmith-Brown, Elliott Denny and Ben Davies.

For modern wooden pieces that can be functional too, Madrid-based Mad Lab is a mecca for gift buyers. Their exquisite handmade collections comprise architecturally inspired boxes and containers, while some are purely decorative such as the travel collection of wooden cars, planes, boats and hot air balloons. 

Great for campers and outdoor diners..the Lumio portable LED light that when closed looks like a hardback book. £140 at Conran Shop. www.hellolumio.com
Super soft luxury alpaca wool throws from Hastens, from £275. www.hastens.co.uk
Sophie Cook stylised ceramics are highly sought after and would make a great wedding gift. www.sophiecook.com
FSC wood Living Larder, UK-made, water-based paint, £225, from www.sparrowandfinch.co.uk
Wholesome non digital fun..garden skittles.. Yay! Set of 9 beech or oak skittles with two balls, £48 at www.henandhammock.co.uk
Drip Tease porcelain egg cups from UK-based ceramicist Reiko Kaneko, £10.50 each. www.reikokaneko.co.uk
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Throws and cushions

Wool throws are good idea for gifts because draped artfully over a chair, sofa or bed, they can lift a room. And they're the type of thing we often feel are too indulgent to buy for ourselves, so to have one as a gift is great.

Beauiful wool throws are not hard to find. For luxury ones, Swedish bed company Håstens has deliciously soft alpaca throws, or give a superb mohair one woven in northern Spain by Mantas Ezcaray, which sells in the UK at Heal's.

You'll also find lovely mohair and wool throws in the Highgrove retail collection. Highgrove seeks out small UK designer-makers, who use sustainable materials and make products in the UK. Profits from the sale of Highgrove products are donated to The Prince of Wale's Charitable Foundation, a grant-making charity which supports a wide range of causes and projects.

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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