Whichever special person in your life you are acknowledging this Sunday 9 May, a gift that is thoughtfully chosen for the recipient but also for its environmental impact is sure to go down a treat. Here, we present our handpicked selection of beauty and lifestyle products that would make a fabulous present even without their focus on sustainability, which, frankly, is the level of quality we demand. Taking care of others and Mother Earth – a fitting way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

LOVE THE SKIN SHE’S IN

Fresh is working on a number of eco initiatives, including by 2025 making all of its packaging either recyclable or made from recycled materials, and having all of its hero ingredients be assessed by the Union for Ethical BioTrade for improvement possibilities. Roses are one such star in Fresh’s lineup, and in the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner they take centre stage: floating rose petals are suspended in an alcohol-free, hydrating formula made up of floral waters and oils. It’s a soothing, non-irritating, decadent choice without the high price tag you might expect, and a little goes a long way when applied on a cotton pad and swept over the face (and don’t forget neck and décollatage).

Speaking of cotton pads, this lotion would pair very nicely as a gift with Garnier’s Micellar Reusable Eco Pads. And when they say reusable, they mean it: each pads lasts up to 1,000 washes, so if you’re throwing them in the wash once a week, that’s two decades worth of single-use cotton pads you’re saving (by my count, around 7,000 if you’re using one a day). They’re truly more pleasant to use than even the softest single-use options: they’re big, fluffy and ever-so-gentle on delicate facial skin.

And what about the rest of her skin? In Australia, the venerable The Body Shop still doesn’t get the recognition it absolutely should for affordably priced, efficacious skin and body care with decades of commitment to sustainability, both environmental and in terms of community initiatives. For Mother’s Day, a safe choice is their Shea Nourishing Body Butter. Firstly, it’s a very pleasing-to-all scent, being soft and clean with a gentle hint of spice. The body butter formula is iconic for a reason, as it’s deeply moisturising for even the driest of skins, yet easily spreadable. The Body Shop partners with Tungteiya Women’s Shea Butter Association in Ghana to support over 600 women in the use of traditional techniques to craft the shea butter by hand that is eventually used in the product.

Scent of a woman

One of my favourite ways sustainability is being handled in the fragrance world is by presenting a beautiful, keep-worthy objet to hold the fragrance, and once emptied you simply refill it. A lovely example of this approach is Giorgio Armani’s My Way, which is a properly heavy, modern glass bottle with an azure, asymmetrical gem-like topper. The scent itself is a sweet, juicy floral that manages to be both cosy and uplifting.

If your recipient is after an altogether lighter affair, Issey Miyake’s A Drop d’Issey is a clean, aquatic, fresh white floral in a gently creamy base; a very easy one to wear. The scent is housed in a strikingly unusual, totally round bottle with a large dimpled pebble of glass in its middle, meaning it lays down not quite flat on its side, as though inviting you to pick it up. Said bottle is made from partially recycled glass, and the paper packaging it arrives in is derived from sustainable sources.

Taking care of business

One of the silver linings of COVID has been the emergence of some clever small brands to offer solutions to our (sadly) new problems. Have A Nice Day Goods aka H.A.N.D. offers slim, elegant glass spritzers of hand sanitiser with refills available. My fragrance of choice is the energising Mimosa & Lemon Myrtle. At this point, you might feel fairly over using sanitiser, but it seems to me that having one on our persons at all times is not a need going away any time soon, sadly, so it may as well be one that looks, feels, and smells lovely while still being affordable and eco-friendly. Also, I have found the act of spritzing rather than rubbing really refreshing, and it’s nice not to feel you’re covered in goop every time you sanitise.

Is the LARQ a very expensive water bottle? Yes, yes it is. Did my husband ask me why I was charging a water bottle with my laptop? Yes, yes he did. (“The future is now, honey!”) But let me count for you the number of ways I love it, and how it’s easier to justify the price when you realise the idea is you’d never need to buy another one. Ever. First up, it keeps water properly cold for up to 24 hours, and because of the insulation never gets cold to touch or causes condensation, which with other bottles is always irritatingly wetting other things in my bag. Second, it regularly purifies it with bacteria-killing UV light every two hours, or as need be at the push of a button, so there’s no need to manually clean it. (Other bottles never seem properly clean anyway, no matter what I do, but more to the point even once ‘clean’, I forever seem to have a glass or metal bottle on the bench ‘drying’ because hands, funnily enough, are not water bottle-shaped, and can never get in there properly to manually dry it, and air drying never gets it totally dry). Third, which for me is the biggest win of all, is that because the UV light kills bacteria-causing odour, there’s never any nasty ‘water bottle taste’ no matter how long you leave your water in there, which is what has always turned me off from using reusable bottles. Fourth, it’s easily rechargeable by USB and one charge lasts at least a month. Fifth, its design: it has a slim, neat shape, is available in a variety of colourways, feels comfortable to hold, and the lid screws on and off easily without ever getting too tight, or leaking. And finally, 1% of all profits are donated to an eco charity. So yes, it’s a very expensive water bottle, but if you can swing it, it’s an amazing sustainable upgrade to daily life.

Love a magazine? Don’t we all. But what about finding a newsagent (devastatingly, they barely seem to exist anymore), heaving it home and then after reading just… chucking all the glossy goodness in the bin? There is a better way, I assure you – meet Readly. Now, I have tried other magazine subscription apps in the past, but this is my choice by far. Not only does it take a Spotify approach to the entire process, in that, for a set fee, you can access every magazine in the app, whenever you like, but there is a wonderful selection of Australian and international magazines to suit all interests, including hard-to-get-our-Aussie-hand-on US titles like In Style. In terms of accessibility, it also takes the cake. The interface is very easy to use on a computer, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a sexy device to read on, and if, like me, you are ‘eyesight-challenged’, rest assured that you can zoom in as close as you like on all that tiny text. The mags can also be downloaded to read in times you don’t have internet access. An absolute winner.

BASICS, BUT MAKE IT FASHION

In 2004, none other than Carrie Bradshaw declared “No women who works at W-magazine and lives on Perry Street would be caught dead at a hip downtown restaurant wearing a scrunchie!” Fifteen years later and rather than vehemently nodding along with Carrie as I did at the time, I have rediscovered my new favourite accessory. It’s had a five star makeover since its first outings in the eighties, and I have yet to find a prettier version than those handmade by Eloïse Panetta, who wraps silk around Australian botanicals and flower petals and steams them, creating incredibly pretty, soft, pastel patterns. The scrunchies aren’t all loose and floppy either, as many others made of silk can be, but rather use good quality, thick elastic. I was nervous that the large size might be a bigger statement than I was willing to make, but it looks like a scarf arranged artfully in my hair, when in reality I have just haphazardly pulled my pony tail through it into a bun. Compared to my usual hair ties and aforementioned scrunchies, it also helps my hair look bouncier and ponytails sit higher more comfortably.

My own loving mother has always declared I look ill without blush. And, as we daughters tend to do, I ignored the fact that she was entirely right until I got old enough to see the truth. (Well, that, and the fact that, on a podcast I listened to a while ago, Mariah Carey’s makeup artist said people wearing makeup but foregoing blush “look like a thumb”. Let that image sink in and tell me you don’t see it?) Enter Flavedo & Albedo’s Dew Tint. The packaging of their entirely line is, most admirably, entirely plastic-free, and their cream blush is no exception. The recyclable aluminium tin makes taking it with you for out-and-about touch ups ever so easy, although this has excellent lasting power (very unusual in the world of cream blushes, might I add) so you shouldn’t need to. The shade Grapefruit is my pick for an option that suits just about every skin tone, as, most appropriately, they show on their site. It gives a beautiful, healthy flush, as though you just came indoors from a pleasant winter stroll.

Sweet dreams

I never thought I’d stray from plain white cotton sheets, except to plain white linen sheets when I am feeling spendy. So, eco-friendly as Ettitude’s Signature Sateen Sheet Set may be, sheets made of 100% sustainable, organic bamboo didn’t immediately speak to me. Oh, how wrong I was. They are delightfully slippery and silky, especially if you’re used to sleeping on cotton, and wash and dry incredibly well, without losing any of their lustre. Given I was already out of my comfort zone fabric-wise, I decided to plump for Starlight Blue in place of my usual white (I know, craziness) and was so impressed with the saturated level of colour, I’d even consider the darkly elegant Ocean next time. If your present recipient happens to be a hot sleeper, than this is an especially great choice, as I get very hot during the night and can attest first hand this is the only fabric I have ever slept on that made a noticeable difference to keeping me cooler. I can’t positively guarantee these will ensure a good night’s sleep, which would of course the best gift of all, but they would stand a very good chance of doing so.

Story by Zoe Briggs. Main image: Gabrielle Union-Wade and daughter Kaavia James Union Wade via instagram @gabunion Readly image: via Instagram @readly.

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