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Where to Buy Ethical Christmas Gifts in Wellington

In the name of yuletide cheer and minimising harm to our planet, here's where you should be browsing.
By Lauren Harrigan
November 20, 2017
By Lauren Harrigan
November 20, 2017

Let's be honest here — no other holiday makes us spank the plastic more than Christmas. With so much feverish spending going on, it can be easier to indulge in a bout of online shopping than to take some time to engage your conscience and do your gift-giving ethically.

'Ethical' is a total buzzword at the moment within our consumerist society. Without jumping on the bandwagon for the sake of it, it is truly a movement worth listening to. It's all about slowing down to think about what we're buying, why we're buying it and who we're buying it from. There's no reason why you shouldn't bear this in mind at Christmas time. It's better for the planet and shows real thought for your loved ones — give them something considered, that they'll be able to use for ages.

For this article, we're considering gifts ethical if their makers have great values: if they've been created with sustainability, fair labour practises, or minimal waste in mind. They might be handmade, they might be made locally, and they always have transparent practises. True ethical brands that care should have nothing to hide.

That's good giving, and Wellington's got some ace ethical options. In the name of yuletide cheer and minimising harm to our planet, here's where you should be browsing.


Commonsense is known about town as the spot to go if you're wanting to cleanse body and mind with some organic groceries. When it comes to gifts, shoot straight for their healthy-stuff-you-can't-eat section. You'll be able to pick up amazing skincare and body products for literally everyone in your life — they've got beautiful skincare and body ranges from brands like Sukin, Dr Hauschka and Weleda. Get something groovy and low on packaging from Ethique, grab an Antipodes hand cream, or a shave-and-shampoo bar made from beer, or introduce someone to aromatherapy with some essential oils from Kereru. They'll appreciate the thought and the instant cachet it'll add to their morning routine. It's the little things.


If you've got someone in your life who takes great joy from beautiful clothes, you need to browse Kowtow. At the moment only an online presence with a select range stocked at Good As Gold on Victoria Street, Kowtow is nevertheless Wellington-born and designed. Founder Gosia Piatek sources the textiles from an organic cotton factory in India, and her design team is attentive to every detail. The garments don't have any zips, because the brand is unable to source any that are a sufficiently high standard for their ethical practices. If you didn't manage to get along to their legendary workroom sale in October, Kowtow is soon to open a flagship Wellington store, so you can browse IRL as well as URL before December 25th.


Consider buying your people books this Christmas — if you're looking to minimise your Christmas footprint, Wellington's myriad of discerning second hand bookshops are the perfect thing. Pegasus is one such example, snuggled in Left Bank, but Arty Bees on Manners and Ferret Bookshop on Cuba are all worth your support too in an age of Kindles and rapidly shuttering independent bookstores. Don't just limit yourself to bookstores who deal in second hand tomes if you can't find what you're looking for — support bookstores like Willis Street's Unity Books, a bastion of independent bookselling and one of the best places to find the next big voice. We really like the look of this challenge. Our local authors will never not need our support.


Talk about local. Wellington Apothecary's in-house line of incredible botanical skincare and remedies are mixed upstairs in the Cuba Street store. Perfect for anyone in your life who needs a bit of mindfulness or care, the Apothecary peddles a beautiful range of wares. From a fresh, herbaceous hand cream to a ceramic dish, a therapeutic tea blend or a marble essential oil burner, the Apothecary has the perfect thing for anyone who appreciates small touches and everyday pleasures.


The fashion and textiles industry is the second most harmful industry for our planet, behind oil. If you're not springing for a piece from a label like Kowtow, above, consider thrifting a rare piece for that interesting person in your life that defies off-the-rack style. Cuba Street is heaving with excellent vintage. Try Hunters & Collectors for a zany designer piece, or Thrift for a funky dress. Consult our piece on the best vintage finds to be had on the street here: in our humble opinion, Tangent can't be beat for getting some funky Christmas Day threads for the dudes, and you can never go wrong with a bit of Ziggurat.


Know anyone with a penchant for interior design and an eye for the ethical? Trade Aid has been operating for 40 years in New Zealand. The stores bring beautiful handmade wares to those with a conscience for buying things that have a strong ethical foundation and transparent labour and employee practises. You'll find everything for the home here — textiles, storage, cushions, rugs, vessels, jewellery and even dry goods like coffee and chocolate.


If you share a love of eating with someone you have to buy a Christmas present for, why not opt for a shared experience instead? It minimises waste and makes sure you can spend some quality time together. Opt for eating establishments with strong local grower relationships or spots that make a lot of their ingredients inhouse, like Nikau and Rita, or restaurants who have their waste disposal on lock. Here are a few ideas — hopefully one of your shared favourites is included.


Speaking of eating, what Christmas morning is complete without something to nibble on as you open your (hopefully ethical) gifts? The Wellington Chocolate Factory has your Christmas chocolate sorted. The only true bean to bar chocolate factory in the country, the small-scale factory based out of the Hannah's Laneway precinct has an intimate input into where all of their ingredients come from. Treat your loved ones to a bar of one of their single origin bars, or a block of their new release milk chocolate made with Zany Zeus milk (another amazing, family owned and organic Wellington brand).

Header image credit: Everyday Needs.

Published on November 20, 2017 by Lauren Harrigan
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