Home Revealed: The Environmental Impact of the UK’s Top Christmas Gifts

Revealed: The Environmental Impact of the UK’s Top Christmas Gifts

Press Release: November 24, 2020

Revealed: The Environmental Impact of the UK’s Top Christmas Gifts

A new report reveals the environmental and social impact of the UK’s most given Christmas presents.

With Christmas around the corner, it’s time to start buying Christmas gifts. The Christmas period can put quite some stress on us, our planet and resources.

To learn more about the ethical and environmental impact of the gifts under the Christmas tree, the online store Shop Like You Give a Damn looked at the most popular Christmas gifts given in the UK and what their environmental and social impact are - alongside giving tips and ideas on how to shop “fairer” without breaking the bank.

The top 10 Christmas gifts given in the UK are:(ref)

1. Clothes and shoes

2. Food and drink

3. Health and beauty products

4. Toys and games

5. Books

6. Jewellery

7. Vouchers

8. Music

9. Movies  

10. Computers 

Top findings


  • Cotton socks create 0.091kg of CO2-eq

  • Woollen socks Create 5.74kg of CO2-eq

  • Polyamide socks Create 2.1kg of CO2-eq


A cotton PJ set:

  • Wastes 50% of usable material when fast fashion pyjamas are made

  • Uses 20,000 litres of water (a UK household of 2 would use this amount of water in 2 and a half months)

  • Uses 332.6g of chemicals

  • Creates 1.8kg of CO2-eq

Woollen jumpers, hats and scarves

A woollen hat:

  • Uses 75 litres of water

  • Creates 4.31kg of CO2-eq

A woollen scarf:

  • Uses 150 litres of water

  • Creates 8.61kg of CO2-eq

A knitted (woollen) jumper:

  • Uses 375 litres of water

  • Creates 21.5kg of CO2-eq

Leather gloves 

  • Use 21.8 litres of water

  • Create 19kg of CO2-eq

  • Use 435g of chemicals (225g are hazardous)

  • Take 50-100 years to break down when thrown away


Make up & Toiletries

  • 500,000 animals are killed every year due to animal testing

  • A plastic moisturiser container takes 1,000 years to break down when thrown away

  • The cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every year

  • There has been a 400% increase in the consumption of beauty products in the UK since 1985 - if usage continues to grow at the same rate, by 2050 there will be 12 billion tonnes of cosmetic industry derived plastic in landfills



CO2-eq of jewellery during manufacture:


Pair of earrings



Gold - mine origin




Gold - recycled




Silver - mine origin




Silver - recycled




Platinum - mine origin




Platinum - recycled





  • 1 hour of burning a paraffin candle produces 10g of CO2-eq

Face masks

  • The creation of a cotton, reusable face mask produces 60g of CO2-eq

Woollen blanket

  • A standard sized woollen blanket produces 97.6kg of CO2-eq

Stuffed and plastic toys

  • The manufacture of a standard soft toy produces 0.77kg of CO2-eq

  • The manufacture of a battery operated soft toy produces 1.34kg of CO2-eq

  • The manufacture of plastic toys, such as LEGO produces 1.79kg of CO2-eq

Data and methodology can be accessed at:  https://www.shoplikeyougiveadamn.com/blogs/how-sustainable-are-your-christmas-gifts/bl-341 

Graphics can be found here: https://bit.ly/slygad-christmas-gifts 

About Shop Like You Give a Damn

Shop Like You Give a Damn is Europe’s largest online department store for vegan, fair & sustainable fashion, cosmetics and homeware. Founders Alex, Kim and Stephan give a damn about the world and encourage you to do the same.

Use their 14 ethical & sustainability criteria to filter on the values that matter to you most. Shop compassionately, they say. And as little as possible. But when you do buy something, make it a vegan, fair and sustainable purchase.


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Notes to editors

For more information, please contact:

Natalie Arney

Email: [email protected]

Visit the newsroom of: Natalie Arney