Between giftwrap, food packaging, and single-use one-off gifts, the holiday season really takes its toll on the Earth.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The following selection of gifts features products that use recycled or repurposed materials, contain organic ingredients, or are fully compostable at the end of their lifespan. We can all make a conscious choice to purchase gifts that give back to the planet.
Eco-friendly and Sustainable Gifts They’ll Actually Use
1. Recycled cotton socks to warm the feet and the heart.
Just knowing these are made from recycled cotton yarn will warm the cockles of anyone’s heart. The thread in these socks is spun from cotton recovered from T-shirt production. You know all those scraps that usually go to waste after a garment is cut and sewn? These are gathered, ground up, and transformed into yarn.
Using recycled cotton not only reduces the amount of cotton waste sent to landfills, it also reduces the amount of water, pesticides, and herbicides used to grow new cotton. Additionally, it eliminates the need for harmful chemicals used to dye virgin cotton yarn. Certified by Oeko-Tex—a worldwide independent testing and certification system—these socks are free of harmful toxins. So while we’re not saying you should put them in your mouth, you technically could.
Which brings us to the children and baby sizes, known as Humbug Socks. These come in ‘pairs plus a spare’ for those of us who can’t keep track of our children’s accessories. Who hasn’t had a favourite pair of socks only to realize one is missing? These brilliant little packages take care of that problem, extending the life of every set.
Great reviews: “I bought these as a Christmas gift for my daughter. She loves them. I purchased two pair (recycled cotton) last year for my wife, and another two pair for her and her sister this year. They make great gifts and seem to be loved by all… thanks.”
2. A hummingbird scatter garden, to plant and wow over when the weather warms up.
This thoughtful gift contains 17 seed varieties to help bird lovers grow a nectar-filled garden in lovely shades of pinks, reds and purples. Its mix of blossom shapes are a favorite with hummingbirds. Every kit comes with enough seeds to cover over 100 square feet, along with directions for planting and growing. Plant in spring or fall to create habitat for nature’s smallest of birds.
3. An apple tree-to-be for the budding gardener, because…apples!
If you’re attending any house parties this season, the apple-tree-to-be makes a great hostess gift. Once they’ve tasted home grown, they’ll never want to go back to store bought. Crunchy, sweet, and delicious, fresh apples are a tradition worth reviving.
The package includes everything they need to get started, including a coir pot, a terra cotta saucer, an aluminum tag, soilless growing medium, and instructions—all packed into a tasteful jute bag. Plant when the time is right and soon they’ll have a thriving little sapling on its way to becoming a backyard fruit source. The apple tree-to-be is also the perfect gift for kids and budding gardeners.
4. Bamboo cutting boards, because someone who cooks as much as they do needs a long-lasting, non-smelling work surface.
Bamboo has got to be one of the most sustainable woods around. It’s so tenacious, it can grow without pesticides and fertilizers and rarely requires replanting. It also matures quickly—in 3-5 years—and produces 35% more oxygen than the equivalent stand of trees. Sequestering carbon from the atmosphere is another one of its many talents.
In addition to being eco friendly, bamboo provides a long lasting, durable surface. Its moisture resistant structure prevents the swelling that often happens with traditional wooden cutting boards—and we’ve found that it washes up quickly and easily. Being fully reversible means you can cut on one side and serve on the other—not a bad combination for those minimalists in your life. Bamboo breadboards are also available.
Great reviews: “Great quality – I love them!” –Brent S.
5. Stainless steel tumblers for home or the trail, because we all need help reducing the impact of our beverage habit.
We know, we know: you can’t live without your morning coffee (or tea), and you also don’t mind a sip of wine now and then. And what about a hot cocoa après ski, or just before you catch the bus? Beverage plastic is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be. These tumblers are the perfect alternative to another throwaway cup. Versatile, durable, reusable, and insulated, they work well for camping, parties, beach days, outdoor dining, and everyday waste-free sipping. The double wall and vacuum insulation will keep wine, iced tea, and cocktails cold while safeguarding the heat in your tea, coffee, and cocoa. And their easy-to-clean lids are free of BPA or phthalates. Serve with mini, reusable drinking straws for an all-round delightful gift.
6. A garden-in-a-bag for growing his own edible “Christmas lights”.
These delicate upright peppers in shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple will light up a window sill with miniature peppers that resemble the lights on a Christmas tree! Otherwise known as ‘Sweet Pickle,’ this pepper variety tastes as good as it looks. Thick-walled with a delicious sweet flavor, the colorful fruit holds up beautifully on both the plant and the plate. Grow right in the bag for a simple, instant garden.
7. Sculpted beeswax candles to chase away the winter blahs.
Let’s face it: the long hours of darkness that come with winter can get under the skin of even the most cheerful people. Lighting a candle to chase away winter blues illuminates a room and adds warmth to the table. Plus, these 100% beeswax candles have the natural, sweet smell of honey infused into their wax. Free of paraffin and other toxins, they also burn clean—without soot. Each 4-inch sphere will burn for over 50 hours. Now that’s a lot of light.
They also come in songbird shapes, just the thing for the birder in the family.
Great reviews: “Love these candles. They burn evenly and all the way to the bottom. And they’re pretty too.”—Debra H.
8. Recycled wool animal puppets for games, fine motor skills, and fun!
If holiday giving creates truckloads of plastic, holiday giving for children is at least partly to blame. The $20 billion in annual toy sales is almost 90% plastic toys. Most of these are short-lived gadgets that enter the waste stream as soon as you open the package. Break that trend by choosing an eco friendly gift that gives a second life to discarded material headed for the landfill.
Cate and Levi’s recycled wool puppets are such an item. Not only do these soft and loveable puppets help kids build communications and fine motor skills, they’re made from reclaimed wool sweaters whose colors and textures are individually selected. No two are exactly the same. Sourced domestically, the materials reduce demand for new resources, leaving as small a footprint as possible. They also come in make-your-own kits for children (or puppet-loving adults) who like to sew.
9. A natural cedar bird feeder —pagoda style—to put a little birdhouse in her soul.
Chickadees, finches, nuthatches, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, cardinals, juncos—you name it, this bird feeder has something for everyone. It features multiple feeding levels to attract the widest variety of backyard birds, from native species to migratory songbirds. It’s also made from naturally rot-resistant Oregon cedar protected by a non-toxic waterproof sealant. That means it will last for season after season.
Great reviews: “Love it! Cleans up easily…the birds love it, too! I saw four birds eating from it this afternoon, as a matter of fact. High-quality materials/wood. Well thought out design. I’m very pleased with this feeder!”—Sonia P.
10. To really cut plastic waste, a biodegradable shampoo and body bar for healthy hair and soft skin.
Shampoo and conditioning bars are taking the personal care market by storm for good reason. In addition to reducing waste by eliminating plastic packaging, they’re also easy to use and effective. Lather up with some Orange Ginger or Rosy Geranium. Or perhaps Cacao Juniperberry is more to his (or her) taste? With eight varieties to choose from, there’s something for everyone who cares about the planet. All ingredients are certified organic.
These soaps pair well with the new Cedar Soap Rafts, which help keep them high and dry and prolong their lifespan. Package them up for a thoughtful gift that doesn’t cost the Earth.
Eco Friendly Gifts All the Way
More and more choices exist to gift thoughtfully, without harming the world around us. With a little care and awareness, we can give from the heart while contributing to the planet.