Mine is the top 2 shelves of the cupboard in my guest bedroom. Where is yours? Yes, I’m talking about that shelf / closet allocated for gifts to pass on to someone else!I love that we live in a culture where giving and gifting are larger than life expressions I don’t love how easy it is to get caught up in the splendor of it all and that after the initial euphoria has faded, we have to deal donating or trashing the gift, if we don’t use it or store it.
SO Lets Give Better!
When it comes to sustainability the UAE is trail blazing its way to setting new targets and creating change.
With the number of sustainable small businesses popping up everyday we have plenty of options to choose a sustainable, eco friendly, sometimes locally made gift for our friends.
To help you make gifting simpler here’s a roundup of some our favorites at
GIFT AN EXPERIENCE
The choices here are endless and gifting an experience can be such a personal and thoughtful gift! They could range from a class (my favorite gift last year was a pottery class see below), tickets to a show or theme park, a course online, a fragrance mixology or art workshop, a spa day, vouchers for pretty much anything.
Touch of Clay
About: Started by Mubarakka Nandi 8 years ago, a studio that was a passion turned into a profession. Pottery nourishes the soul and the journey of clay from a ball of clay to a finished product is just beautiful. With 20 years of experience as a potter, Mubarakka has the magic touch when it comes to clay. She teaches hand building and pottery on the wheel to students of all ages.
Sustainable Values: The studio recycles its clay everyday by softening and wedging it for reuse. The water used is also reused by letting the clay settle and then reused for classes. Nothing is wasted, the soft clay is used as slip for projects that require sticking. They use up-cycled newspapers and reusable jute bags as packaging.
Gift Idea: For the DIYer who loves to learn
Prices: The starter package for 4 classes at AED 650
About: Started in November 2020 by Layla Al Hajajj, Boho Salon is the first and only sustainable and ethical salon in Abu Dhabi. Their goal with Boho was to offer hair & beauty services, while educating people to minimize waste and making better buying choices by looking at the ingredients they are putting on themselves.
Sustainable Values:They only work with brands that source ingredients ethically, work with natural ingredients, use recycled, biodegradable or carbon neutral packaging, have minimal impact while production, pay workers fairly and are cruelty free. In addition they implement sustainable practices in the salon that save water such as backwash showers that save 65% water. They use eco friendly cleaners, even the decor is made from natural and sustainable material.
Gift Idea: For the Non Toxic beauty
Pricing: Vouchers starting at AED 250
Call for Booking: +971 2 546 6996
ALL IN ONE SHOPS
About: The idea of Shift Eco came about when co-founder Namrata picked up a bamboo toothbrush in a supermarket, and thought If this Shift was so easy, then why aren’t more people doing it? Shifting to greener products is difficult due to lack of availability and lack of good quality options, a challenge that co-founders Sukriti Verma and Namrata Budhraja aim to solve by creating a one-stop-shop for all eco-friendly products.
This online store houses multiple products under the personal care, home care, baby, stationery, food & gifting categories. Shift Eco currently has 50+ suppliers and has 1000+ products available on their website.
Sustainable Values: Shift Eco curates all its products to have high quality with true green values through their Green Code or environment values such as plastic free, reusable, organic, cruelty free & locally made among others. The packaging is biodegradable & in-line with the company’s motto of reducing single use plastic.
Gift Idea: For the Green Enthusiast
Prices: Gift Cards start at 100 AED, Everything in their store from tea and chocolates to candles and make up is drool worthy!
One Good Thing
About: “One of our co-founders; Bridgett was diagnosed with cancer in early 2016 shortly after giving birth. It was a scary time but everyone came through the other side with a realization that time is not guaranteed and that if you have an idea, you might as well go for it.”
Their idea was to support innovative, sustainable social enterprises around the world, to help them grow and to ultimately support their causes by making it easy for people to find all these great eco-friendly and socially conscious gifts. And they’ve done just that featuring 15 brands with over 450 products and growing.
Sustainable Values: One Good Thing epitomizes the concept of gifts that give back. Every product has a story and impact that does good. Inspirational items range from one-of-a-kind jewellery and sustainable bags, to reclaimed wood headphones, conservation-focused camping gear, and an upcycled travel section. Shopping here is not just a “GOOD” but the best decision you can make.
Gift Idea: For the Clean Green Man- Power Bank Charge 20 ( a portion of sales provides clean energy to thousands in India and Africa)
Pricing: AED 149
About: Eco Souk, a family lifestyle store started by Katy Rice 3 years ago. As a new Mum some 7.5 years ago, Katy spent a lot of time sourcing items which fit her beliefs, that she could make a significant contribution to bettering the world’s consumption problems by buying less if choosing well from the outset. This included making sure that materials were sustainable and non toxic, whilst production was ethical. She selects her products ranging from non toxic toys, home decor and clothing and gifts stocking only those that share her beliefs.
Sustainable Values: For every Eco Souk order placed a Tree is Planted through the One Tree Planted organisation supporting locations affected by natural disasters. “We limit plastic in our packaging and encourage recycling through messaging on our boxes” Each product is chosen for its sustainable values for example Koko Cardboards are beautiful ready made craft sets that are 100% recyclable (right down to the tape used to seal the boxes). Their Wobbel Boards, the original Dutch design, are the world’s favourite open ended toy with its unlimited ways to play. Their commitment to form a part of the circular economy in the Netherlands ensures no part of the Beech trees from which they are made goes to waste
Gift Idea– For the kids who wont stop- Koko Cardboards & Wobbel Boards
Pricing: Start at 99 AED
Cloth Diaper UAE
About: Started by Zamantha Cruz, a fun playful collection of machine washable reusable cloth diapers. Last February right before the pandemic started, she gave birth to her 4th son. “It got me thinking how to approach this in a sustainable way”. Zamantha says “My baby is 1 year old, and still using the same diapers since he was born…. a guarantee that we only sell the long lasting good quality products!”
Sustainable Values: By using a reusable diaper you save an incredible amount of waste going to landfills. Their Cover Diaper with bamboo charcoal insert saves water because you only need to change the insert as required. They offer reusable gift bags as well.
Gift Idea: Perfect for a Baby Starter Box
Pricing: Starting at AED 119 for a set of 5
About : “After facing hurdles as parents ourselves, Tickle Tickle born out of our desire to provide gender-neutral, affordable, organic capsule kids clothing and personalized, meaningful gift hampers to this region.” says Akanksha, founder of this organic baby essential company.
We don’t do fancy, fast fashion or fade. Our pieces are evergreen, very comfortable, worn daily across all seasons and last really long due to the absence of dyes.”
Sustainable Values: Their collections are made from natural colored organic cotton, completely free from toxic coloring agents. They use herbal dyes that are safe for sensitive skin. They make their clothing responsibly in certified organic factories supporting employees as well as the local community. They use recycled thank you cards, tissue wraps, recycled paper bags and reusable gift boxes.
As a part of Zeloop, ( a reward based recycling app) points collected for bottles recycled can be redeemed for vouchers from them.
Gift Idea: Best for Newborn Hampers- Comes with complimentary embroidery of babies’ names.
Price Range– AED 150- AED 250
About: Sherin, is the founder of Natura Tribe, a nature inspired playgroup in Dubai where kids have fun, spot bugs, watch birds, practice nature crafts, sing, dance and play with mud and water. She recently launched Natura Pura, 100% Natural Play Dough, handmade with love using high-quality natural ingredients and dyes. In addition, the play dough, you will find rollers and flower petals that kids can use to play with their play dough.
Sustainable Values: All ingredients are natural and non toxic. She uses flower petals, raw plants, dried vegetables, and spices to create natural beautiful shades, textures, and scents. The colors, smells and names are inspired by nature. The play dough is sold in reusable glass jars.
Gift Idea: For the Boho bebe and Mama.
Prices: Start at 85 AED for 280g jar of play dough
About: RBKB was launched in November 2020 by two Lebanese expats. “After the Beirut port explosion in August 2020, we were devastated and felt absolutely helpless. So, they decided to pour their tears and pain into something good. A couple of months later, they launched RBKB, as a platform for Lebanese artists and artisans to showcase their talent and share their gifts with the UAE
The Elias spoon is carved in olive tree wood after the pruning season, which is essential to the growth and the health of the trees and their fruits. The spoon is designed to scoop out olives from the jar, by getting rid of the oil. It is handmade, and no two spoons are similar. Each has a specific age, color and grain.
They upcycle newspapers to wrap their products
Gift Idea: For the Eco Couple with good taste
Pricing: Start at 30 AED, The Elias spoon: 165 AED
Earth Fix Hub
About: Led by Vans and Kid Rosales, Earthfix HUB is an e-commerce company based in the UAE that sells natural, handmade, upcycled, biodegradable, and cruelty-free products such as Bamboo toothbrushes, handmade soap with natural ingredients, shampoo bar, natural tooth tablets.
Sustainable Values: “Because we have products that are made outside of the country, we offset our carbon footprint by planting trees made possible by One Tree Planted”. The vision of the company is to help people switch to low-impact, sustainable living. SWITCH from plastic-packaged, harsh chemicals, animal-tested products to handmade, all natural soaps, upcycled, biodegradable and locally made products.
Gift Idea: For the Beauty with heart
Pricing: Gift Box for Her: AED 120
About: Green Imprints is an eco-friendly company, supplying plantable seed recycled paper pens and pencils; paper straws and biodegradable disposables; cotton and jute bags and pouches; handmade paper and seed paper calendars, visiting cards, letterheads, wristbands, envelops, diaries, notepads, coasters, gift tags, etc.. all at excellent quality and competitive pricing.
Sustainable Values: Most of their products are made from recycled material and are biodegradable and toxin-free, with no added chemicals.
Gift Idea: Perfect for Corporate Gifting- Their customizable plantable diaries are perfect for any do gooder business.
Pricing: Starting at 12 AED
About: Kate moved to UAE in 2009 and started sewing using any unused clothing items and went on to make bunting as gifts for friends. What started as a hobby eventually turned into a business selling colourful fabric reusable bunting and banners across the UAE. She added greetings cards and novelty crayons to her collection shipping all over the UAE.
“My ‘Rainbow Happy Birthday Bunting’ is the most popular item I sell. A colourful cotton banner that can be used year after year, birthday after birthday!” The perfect sustainable solution to birthday decorations which are traditionally single use.
Gift Idea: Buy this one for yourself, the kids will love it
Pricing: 100 Dhs for the Rainbow Birthday Bunting
The Soul Scents
About: This unique incense brand started in the midst of the pandemic by David, a professional photographer who spent 4 years living in Sri Lanka. When he moved back home last year he knew he wanted to help those affected by the pandemic in some way. Back in Sri Lanka, he was buying extra large hand-rolled incense made by a local women’s cooperative that he would religiously burn at home. “I loved their unique aroma and how long they would last (5 hours!!!) but did not know how special they really were till I got back to Dubai”
To help support this local women’s cooperative he placed a large order to see if it was something that the people in Dubai would also enjoy. Coincidently this came as a blessing to the cooperative which was about to stop making them due to lack of demand
Sustainable Values: The incense themselves are over a foot long and burn for a total of 5 hours on a single light, making them the biggest on the market! They are made from recycled wood pulp and contain a unique blend of 100% pure essential oils.
The large wooden holders are handmade by David with a chisel and sander from locally sourced wood. “I felt it needed to stay raw and organic just like the product itself.”
The packaging uses natural brown baking paper to wrap the incense, organic coconut string to tie them up. Labels are made with recycled card and he hand stamps each package with his logo.
Gift Idea: For the Energy evangelist
Prices: Ramadan Gift Deal starts at 175 AED for 3 pack +Wooden Holder
About: Peahead.eco is an emerging design studio dubbed covid-couture started by artist Christne Wilson. Inspired by nature and a passion for the environment they combine recycling with the positive attributes of slow fashion design. Peahead.eco sustainable bags gained Editor’s Pick of The National UAE Fashion & Culture, a partnership with Jameel Arts Centre for Jadaaf, a feature in Al Arabiya and CNN. “We love this planet and by giving would-be-waste materials another life we can inspire others to see value in everything around us”
Sustainable Values: They collate and process locally sourced industrial excess materials; including reclaimed leather and quality textile. Their first collection reuses single use plastic bags. Each piece is handmade and combined with sustainable and beautiful cork leather.
They organize team building workshops which incorporate a company’s would-be-waste materials to create unique products and contribute to the CSR and circular economy of the organisation. They generously host upcycling workshops to teach the methods of their craft and share the love of sustainable making in support of Gulf For Good.
Gift Idea: For your plant loving business partner
Prices: 150 AED for the Green Box Gift Set
About: Started by Divya Jain a mum of 2, Bamboo Bark launched after she realised that there weren’t any trendy, sustainable lunch boxes available for her children. The need to use less plastic led to the formation of this brand. Their mission is to bring sustainable materials like stainless steel back into our lives.
Sustainable Values: Our lunchboxes, snack boxes and plates are made from high quality stainless steel and can be used over and over for many years. There are no odour problems or the fear of leaching toxins into food. Unlike plastics, steel is recyclable thereby helping us in reducing our plastic footprint.
Gift Idea: For the Fussy eater young and old
Prices: Start at 41 AED
Treat Me Gluten Free
About: Aisha Bin Brook started her gluten free journey 2013 when she met the fantastic herbalist, Wibke from Neal’s Yard Remedies. At Wibke’s suggestion she moved to a gluten free diet which solved her long suffering digestive issues. On her return to the UAE, she started searching for gluten free products which she found expensive with a “manufactured” taste. In 2017 she started Treat Me Gluten Free as a monthly subscription service and then produced her own products (granola, cake and pancake mix) while keeping her eco friendly values in mind.
Sustainable Values: They use environmentally friendly packaging made from recycled materials. Some of their packaging is recyclable, biodegradable and reusable, and also plantable! “We also use the ingredients which are packed in eco friendly packaging such as glass and paper bags where possible”.
Gift Idea: Their best seller is the delicious and light Lgaimat mix flavored with saffron and cardamom is perfect for any food hamper
Pricing: Starts at 27 AED
About: Pacari means nature in Quechua, Pacari is a family-owned Ecuadorian company with a simple mission: to produce the highest quality organic dark chocolate in the world in the most ethical and sustainable way possible. Fine aroma “Arriba” organic cacao has one of the highest values in the market. Much of this is due to the fact that it is the result of peasant small scale family farming.
Sustainable Values: Pacari is not only certified organic in both the growing and production process, it is also one of the only chocolate companies with the Demeter Biodynamic Certification. This certification process ensures that raw material production takes place in an auto-regenerative ecosystem which is free from chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers and keeps an ecological balance between animals, insects, soil, plants and humans protecting the biodiversity of Ecuador (including maintaining a wide variety of cacao trees). Most of their packaging is also 100% recyclable. Their chocolate bars are wrapped in recyclable aluminum foil and cardboard. Pacari Chocolate is a ‘Tree to Bar’ chocolate which means that local farmers gain substantial revenue from chocolate sales. This ensures that around 50% of the wealth stays in the country of origin. Additionally all their chocolates are palm oil free. Pacari is 100% child labour free.
Gift Guide: For Everyone