Our 2021 Christmas gift guide: 10 European startups with sustainable gift choices

Are you still on the hunt for that perfect Christmas gift? And while you’re at it, would you like to contribute towards climate action with eco-friendly and sustainable gifts?

2021 has been a big year for sustainability and we are all making more eco-conscious choices. In October this year, the world met once again for climate action via the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow – the consensus was that it’s make or break time for our world.

So, for our EU-Startups Christmas gift guide this year, we are making it easier for you to keep our one and only planet in mind during your Christmas shopping by putting together this earth-friendly list for your consideration:

Prêt à Pousser: Plants are all the rage in this ongoing pandemic (who hasn’t become a plant parent yet?), and this Parisian startup has a great selection of autonomous, indoor gardens that makes home-growing easy and sustainable. With a mission to make home-growing accessible for everyone, Prêt à Pousser (literally means ‘ready to sprout’) has over 60 varieties of herbs, aromatics, mini-vegetables, and flowers to grow that came in compact as well as modular, scalable indoor gardens.

Oddbox: This UK-based startup is trying to conquer food waste by ensuring that all food grown is eaten, regardless of its size, appearance, or quantity. Too often food is wasted before it even leaves the farm, deemed as being “too big” or “too dinky”. As a grower-led business, Oddbox goes directly to the farms and asks for their spare produce, then delivers it directly to consumers via a box subscription. The box sizes can be varied from small to large and the contents can be fruits, vegetables, or a combination of both with an option to exclude up to three items weekly.

Typology: This vegan skincare startup is based in Paris. Founded only in 2019, Typology is gaining traction for its formulas that are pared-back and distilled down to the most essential and natural active ingredients. Available exclusively online and selling products directly to customers, Typology uniquely and conveniently bundles its products into “routines” – for example, for blemished skin, wrinkles, and fine lines. Each formulation is also available individually. Founded by Ning Li, who also previously founded MADE.com, another French startup that offers high-end design without a high-end price tag.

Kimai: An all-time gifting favourite during the festive season, jewellery, is often mired in controversy over how raw materials are sourced and so might not be among the first in a list of sustainable gifts. Kimai’s jewellery line is set to change our perception of sustainable jewellery. The pieces are guilt-free, fairly made, and, no mines are involved as they are made from lab-grown diamonds and 18k recycled gold. Their collection includes rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and engagement rings – all customizable and manufactured in Antwerp, Belgium.

Ocean Bottle: This London-based startup, founded in 2018, manufactures water bottles designed to last a lifetime, from part stainless steel and part ocean-bound recycled plastic. Ocean Bottle teams up with a global community of recyclers to collect plastic waste that is otherwise destined to end up in our oceans.  With the sale of every Ocean Bottle, 11.4kg of plastic (the equivalent of 1000 ocean-bound plastic bottles) is collected in impoverished coastal communities where plastic pollution is most devastating. Plastic collectors can exchange plastic waste for money or credit via blockchain technology to spend on tuition, tech goods, health care and micro-finance. All of this is made possible and secure with the help of their partners, Plastic Bank.

Ecoalf: A sustainable clothing brand based in Madrid, Ecoalf strives to be more than a conscious clothing brand with its mission to create clothing from recycled products with the same attention to quality, design, and technical properties as the best non-recycled products in the market. Fabrics are developed in partnership with specialist manufacturers around the world with Ecoalf currently operating 14 joint ventures globally to collect and process waste into fabrics. Its current initiatives include manufacturing from discarded fishing nets, PET plastic bottles, used tyres, coffee, and post-industrial cotton and wool into high-quality yarns and components for clothing, accessories, and footwear.

Fairphone: With easy upgrades and new phones constantly being brought to the market, mobiles are becoming an increasingly discarded item. Fairphone chooses to go the opposite direction by designing and manufacturing mobile phones for longevity, easy repair, and modular upgrades. Fairphone’s hardware is designed to last as long as possible, and it provides support to keep its software up to date. The mobile phone’s electronic materials are described as conflict-free and sourced from fair trade. This startup that was founded in the Netherlands in 2013, aims to make each phone’s environmental footprint smaller with its longer lifecycle. The components are also reusable/recyclable, with the goal of reducing electronic waste.

Cowboy: This connected electric bike is the perfect gift for urban riders who want mobility and convenience. Cowboy’s mission is to power riders to map their own paths, and those of the cities they live in, through mindful movement that benefits all. Cowboy’s latest iteration, the Cowboy 4 series, comes with a removable battery with wireless charging built seamlessly into the frame that ensures a light, speed-intuitive ride that goes the distance. It also has theft and fall detection and comes with a companion app for an informed ride experience.

Mindful Chef: Recipe boxes gained popularity during the pandemic, buoyed by people’s inability to physically shop for food and the rediscovery of the craft of home-cooking. Mindful Chef is among those successful recipe boxes that we can consider gifting to family and friends in the UK. Launched in London in 2015 by school friends Giles Humphries, Myles Hopper and Robert Grieg-Gran, the Mindful Chef delivers ethically sourced ingredients from small UK farms and producers and is now the highest-rated recipe box in the UK. Mindful Chef has a social impact component in that it also donates school meals to children in poverty for every meal ordered.

Upcircle: Founded in 2015, this London-based startup offers skincare products made from reused, repurposed and reloved natural ingredients such as used coffee grounds and brewed chai tea spices in their line of cleansers, exfoliants and face serums. Upcircle aims to elevate leftover natural ingredients, bringing them back to life as beauty products. All their products are made from organic, cruelty-free, sustainable, repurposed, ocean-friendly, palm-free materials and come in packaging that is 100% recyclable.