It’s that time of year again isn’t it when we start to think about our Christmas shopping - depending on how organised we may be!
I always find it such a joy to treat our loved ones to gorgeous, unique gifts that they’ll treasure, but it can be minefield can’t it finding that special something, especially whilst being thoughtful of our planet and nature. Also, some people (men for us here at HBB!) are just more challenging to buy for aren’t they.
With this in mind, we thought we would offer you a helping hand by sharing our top tips as to what to look for when choosing a brand along wth a guide to our favourite, eco -friendly, cruelty free, sustainable businesses that offer beautiful gifts ranging from treats for the palate, ornamentals, handmade crafts and jewellery through to ethically made clothing - a little something for everyone!
What to look for when choosing a brand?
Online shopping can be planet positive too – multiple studies have actually found that shopping online has a much lower environmental impact than brick-and-mortar- shopping due to the fact delivery companies are becoming more and more efficient at shifting vast amounts of parcels with minimum fuel/electric fleets and even more deliveries are being made by workers on foot. Consumers were also found to be more thoughtful and discerning when online shopping, thus reducing their carbon footprint from not going several times to a store, evaluating, and then often going back to return items.
So, Are You Ready to Read On?
Grab a cuppa, curl up on the sofa and delve into our sustainable festive shopping guide for gift inspiration aplenty. We hope you enjoy poring over it as much as we enjoyed compiling this show of support for our fellow online, independent businesses.
We know how much you care for our planet too, so first off, let’s talk about some considerations to take into account to purchase sustainably:
Where are the products made?
Avoid mass produced merchandise originating from large factories that impact negatively on the environment through air pollution, toxic waste disposal and water contamination. Pick companies who manufacture in their locality and whose energy consumption is as low as possible.
Who are they made by?
Look for brands with transparency and honesty, that are committed to integrity to their customers, surroundings and workforce and that do no exploit animals, people or nature.
Is the business socially responsible?
Do they promote the well-being of society and the environment?
Do they give back to the locality and/or to charity?
Are the products hardwearing/long lasting/purposeful/reusable rather than disposable and ‘throw away’?
What materials/ingredients do they use?
Opt for brands that use eco friendly, sustainably sourced raw materials or natural, chemical free ingredients that do not impact negatively on our planet.
Are they Zero Waste?
Buy from businesses that support a zero waste policy- choose brands that use recyclable, recycled, reusable packaging/containers and shy away from single use plastics.
Our Top Online Brands for Sustainable Gifting
As so many of you lovely newsletter and email followers are not local to us we have focused the main part of this guide on our fellow Welsh and Welsh border businesses that sell predominately online, so are readily available for you all to enjoy wherever you may be in the country.
Est. Living Gifts
‘My heaven is a home.’ Herein lies the philosophy born out of which countryside loving Fi founded her eco conscious Welsh online business. All her products are lovingly crafted from her own artistic hand and mind. A passion for trawling fairs and markets, finding forgotten and unloved materials and furnishings that just need a little tender love, care or repurposing, led to the creation of her entirely sustainable range. With her crafts she hopes to bring planet friendly happiness to people’s homes along with a dash of stylistic flair for good measure!
What’s on offer?
Here you will discover a beautiful, handmade, sustainable selection of homewares, accessories and retro home décor lovingly made in the Wye Valley.
Take a browse at the unique gifts available from this little online treasure trove – from vibrantly stylish handmade planters with contrasting terrazzo bands, coasters, candle holders, multicoloured hand marbled notebooks through to gold leaf resin earrings and hand printed Lino cut cards on recycled paper - you are sure to find some irresistible pieces!
Est Living’s whole range is produced using eco- friendly, sustainable materials such as recycled paper, eco resin and second hand materials.
Special care is taken to ensure all packaging is recycled, recyclable and/or reusable whilst remaining attractive and eye catching for gifting.
Here at HBB we particularly fell in love with the eco-friendly jesmonite planters and desk tidies - you may have spotted some in our office during visits or on our social feeds!
Did you know that jesmonite, derived from natural mineral, constitutes an environmentally friendly (being water based not solvent based) safe, durable and recyclable alternative to plaster, plastic and concrete?
Oh, and of course as fellow pet lovers how can we resist their cute festive cards!?
Just spotted these bee ones too.....
Find Est Living at…..
Bee is the one woman team behind Subversive Threads – courageously switching between the design process, pattern making, garment construction, fabric sourcing, marketing and packing……..the list goes on! Nature and fashion lover Bee, a keen purposeful, cathartic and meditative sewer, started her business from her spare room in South Wales with only one sewing machine. Now she has a shop, studio and thriving online store! Bee draws her unique inspirations from all things art, vintage and music, but, most of all, it’s in her lucid dreams that her unique ‘threadies’ start their journey to fruition!
What is on offer?
Browse through a quirky, fun loving sustainable, ethical collection of garments completely handmade from start to finish in Wales using reclaimed fabrics. Choose from cwtchy joggers, fluffy jumpers, her unique ‘Long Janes’ (a feminine twist on ‘Long Johns’ that we love!), dresses, dungarees, kimonos or hats, bags and accessories for the perfect gift!
Never lacklustre, these subversive ‘threads’ are bold, brave and beautiful and designed to challengingly ‘subvert’ the devastating social and environmental impacts of ‘fast fashion.’
Did you know that a recent survey by Google found that the fashion industry accounts for 20% of waste water and 10% of carbon emissions globally!
Subversive Threads boasts an impressive eco ethos by striving to be as genuinely environmentally conscious as possible. All fabrics are up-cycled or dead stock, all packaging is recyclable and grown from a sustainable source, the electricity Bee uses is renewable, garments are designed to be as versatile and hardwearing as possible to promote longevity and zero waste techniques are used during production. You can rest assured no ‘green washing’ is going on at subversive threads and each piece is lovingly made to be worn to shreds!
Oh, and the aptly named Bee, shares the love for our amazing bees too! As you can see above you will find them featuring frequently in her handiwork.
Find Subversive Threads at…
The lovely Joanna is a very busy bee indeed! A self taught painter, artist and founder of Somerset brush, which sells in local emporiums and online, she manages every aspect of her business whilst caring for three young boys! My goodness! Joanna delights in the beauty of the natural world and nature; originally from London but now relocated to the Somerset-Wiltshire border, she relishes in the artistic influences offered on her doorstep, in particular drawing inspiration from the bees in her garden. A versatile talent, Joanna also has a keen enthusiasm for painting seascapes and absolutely loves the challenge of a commission!
What’s on offer?
Shop Somersetbrush and you’ll find a wealth of sustainble, handmade gifting options for suitable for the whole family. Opt for exquisite watercolour bee paintings, hand embroidered bee scarfs and cosy hats -perfect for the winter months –or mugs, reusable cloths and tote bags.
Or how about a hand painted bee iridescent glass bauble for some ‘bee-utiful’ festive decoration?
Maybe a hand crafted bee serving board would make the ideal pressie for the bee loving cook in the family? With so much choice this store is a must-browse for bee and art lovers alike. Somersetbrush even stock hand embroidered baby suits for the little ones in the family, and, for all you fur baby parents, why not contact Joanna for a bespoke pet portrait or accessory featuring your four legged best friend!
At Somersetbrush care is taken to be gentle on our planet. As well as promoting the awareness of bees and nature, the brand hand paint, hand embroider and pack their range from home, reducing their carbon footprint - no factory production here!
The products are designed to last and be reused time and time again – their chopping and serving boards are made from bamboo, a highly sustainable, natural renewable resource, and all orders are shipped via Royal Mail - the delivery company considered to be the most environmentally friendly, to boast the lowest carbon footprint and recognised as being the ‘industry leader’ in championing sustainable delivery.
Joanna also employs mainly watercolour paints to produce her gorgeous works. Watercolours are considered to be the most environmentally friendly painting medium given that the brushes and materials can be cleaned using warm water, whereas oil based paint, being non water soluble, requires the use of harsh chemicals and toxic paint thinners for cleaning up brushes and utensils.
Find Somerset Brush at…..
Jewellery by Annamarie
Delve into the imaginative world of nature loving Annamarie and discover an enchanting array of creative, ethical jewellery - handmade just for you. Annamarie’s passion for jewellery was sparked inside her from a young age when she lovingly would string homemade clay beads together. This natural flair teamed with an enthusiasm for learning about folklore and myths, led to the creation of her unique nature-meets- fantasy jewellery range. From her workshop based in the wonderful countryside of Monmouthshire, South Wales she enjoys watching the wonder of nature through the changing seasons, the reflection of which shines through in her pieces. Creating bespoke engagement and wedding rings to be cherished is something Annamarie finds particularly rewarding.
What’s on offer?
Jewellery by Annamarie use traditional silversmithing techniques in conjunction with the comparatively new medium of silver clay, showcasing the exciting symbiotic potential of joining both mediums to create unique, detailed works of art in precious metal.
Perhaps you or someone you love revel in the magic of nature, everything enchanting and otherworldly? Then Jewellery by Annamarie fits the gifting bill! Exquisite earrings, charms, bracelets and necklaces await your perusal. Designed rich with influences from creative artists such as Tolkien, CS Lewis and Lewis Carroll, you’ll be sure to find an exciting fusion of nature meets fantasy running through the collections.
In contrast to her imagined worlds, Annamarie is ever conscious of our planet, fully understanding the necessity of protecting our environment. This informs the choices of her small business. Jewellery by Annamarie always opts for eco silver, works with fair trade or recycled precious metals and ethically sourced gemstones. All her packaging and boxes are recycled and biodegradable, even the tape she uses is fully recyclable rendering her brand as zero waste as possible.
Ah and look… and her latest pieces include a ‘bee-utiful’ bee range – right up our street of course!
Find Jewellery by Annamarie at….
The Little Welsh Choc Co.
Did you catch Ali on James Martin’s Saturday Morning show chatting about all things Welsh, chocolate and sustainable? ‘Chocolate made the nice way’ is the mantra of this Cwmbran, South Wales based online brand which embraces all things ethical. It all started with Ali’s mum, Glynis Pope who taught herself to make truffles to sell at fundraising events – her lush delights were so well received she found herself busier and busier making her chocolate délices for friends, family etc.
Around the same time Ali, also a firm chocolate fanatic, was embarking on a quest to live a more eco friendly life – she felt upset by the plastic wrappers on her fav chocolate treats and even more so on reading the ingredients list of palm oil, soy, gelatin and E numbers - she wondered where was the actual chocolate? So, cue a lot of hard work and the award winning, sustainable and ethical Little Welsh Chocolate Company was founded!
What’s on offer?
A mouth-watering range of all things chocolately – and who doesn’t love a chocolate treat as a gift?
Pick from artisan selection boxes, welsh liqueur truffles, solid bars, salted caramel hearts, vegan or dairy free…there is something to suit all tastes!
What’s more you can rest assured that the brand is kind to our planet and you – the team are totally committed to making their chocolate and running their business the ‘nice way’. All bars are handcrafted using the finest organic chocolate, enriched with only organic essential oils and using only natural, locally sourced ingredients. Never ever will any palm oil, soy, artificial colours or flavourings find their way into their chocolate.
As well as loving the fact we can indulge our sweet tooth without worrying about ingesting chemicals and E numbers, we are really impressed by their pledge to our environment. All packaging is 100% recyclable, they opt for fairtrade ingredients ensuring farmers and producers are fairly paid and last year 100% of this little company’s energy was provided by renewable resources!
Operating as a zero waste brand, if any plastic is received from suppliers it is taken to a local business (Capital Valley Plastics) to be recycled and turned into damp proofing for local building works- how amazingly thoughtful is that?
I have to say I have my eye on the uniquely Welsh seaweed spiced rum and raisin truffles –won’t they make a delish ‘man’ gift.
Find the Little Welsh Chocolate Co. at…..
Lines Brew Co was created in 2016 by planet loving, beer enthusiast Tom Newman. Tom started home brewing at just 15 and later gave up a promising consultancy career to pursue his brewing dream – he now runs his own unique, eco based brewery Lines Brew Co in Usk, South Wales.
What’s on offer?
Pop over to their online shop for the ideal, eco friendly gift for the discerning beer drinker in your life. With a range of specialist beer, lager and pale ale you can be sure to choose something just that little bit different to the usual supermarket offerings! Lines even design and sell their own branded merchandise -why not treat a brew fan to a stylish, practical T-shirt?
Lines are committed to brewing exotic and blended farmhouse beer whilst striving to be as fully sustainable as possible by locally sourcing produce and brewing using renewable energy. This includes reducing carbon emissions through technology, recycling waste locally and using local grains and fruit; the brewery also give back to the community by partnering with local farmers to share their spare grain/composting hops. The team use only biodegradable and recyclable materials to brew and package their ever changing choice of beers.
Find Lines Brew Co. at.....
Most of you lovelies will be familiar with our sustainability ethos – we run a plastic free, animal, bee and planet friendly sustainable small brand, use natural, ethically sourced ingredients, offer a return and reuse scheme, and, for every purchase, we donate to the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust. For further info on our eco credentials CLICK HERE
So, if you are looking for eco-friendly gifting options for the whole family, from honey hampers, Gardener boxes, barbering treats, honey skincare to bathing and pampering delights, then take a peak at our Festive Gifting Guide. For more gifting options have a look at our full Gift Collection HERE.
Support Local and Sustainable!
Here at HoneyBeeBeautiful we are also passionate about supporting our fellow small, local and sustainable shops – hasn’t the pandemic- led business turmoil of the past couple years been tough on high street retail.
So, we have collaborated with our fellow businesses of Usk and arranged a special SHOPPING DAY on Saturday 13th November. Click HERE to find out who is involved and what offers and treats they have in store for you on the day.
Our Guide contains maps, details of the makers along with offers and refreshments available. So, if you do happen to be local or are visiting, do mark it in the diary and please do share it with your friends!
We shall be offering 10% off all gift sets along with complimentary mulled wine and mince pies to ignite the festive spirit - take the chance to come in and see the new office too!
Are your shopping carts now brimming?! We do hope you have found this sustainable shopping guide useful in providing some gifting inspo for your Christmas shopping and in showcasing some ‘bee-utiful’ sustainable brands, both local and online, that may be new to you.
If you know of any gorgeous, sustainable small businesses worthy of a mention then please drop us a line and let us know – let’s share the support and love together for the amazing independents out there!
Oh, and did you notice how many of our featured ‘top picks’ are female led businesses? Here’s to happy shopping and to all our fellow enterprising, strong, thoughtful women!
Cath & the bees
See below for our Top List of other Local & Sustainable Businesses to visit in the surrounds of Usk
Usk and Surrounding Areas:
Gallery At Home
Llancayo Court, Usk NP15 1HY
Inspired Gallery at Craft Renaissance
Kemeys Commander, Usk NP15 1JU
31 Bridge Street, Usk NP15 1BQ
Just Weigh Usk
63 Bridge Street Usk NP15 1BQ
All Creatures Great and Small Charity Shop
The Old Post Office, Bridge Street, Usk NP15 1BQ
Reeks Stained Glass and Crafts
23 Bridge Street, Usk NP15 1BG
Monmouth and Abergavenny:
Little Green Refills
9 Market Street, Abergavenny NP7 5SD
Bees for Development
1 Agincourt Street, Monmouth NP25 3DZ