Are you trying to find an eco friendly gift for special someone that doesn’t cost the earth?
Are there a number of people in your life consuming more consciously and thinking about reducing their impact on the environment? If so, that’s great! But what do you get them for Christmas, Birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc?! It can be a total conundrum – Christmas, birthdays and other celebrations have mostly become about excessive consumption.
There also seems to be a weird association between the monetary value of the gift and the perceived value of the relationship… which is ridiculous! It should be about the thought and care that’s gone into the gift. So that’s what we’ve tried to do with this list – find eco friendly gifts that truly say “I care about you and you are important to me”.
If you any more ideas that we can add to this list please let us know in the comments!
Gifts That Cost Nothing Or Close To Nothing
- Electronics-free picnic in the park (incl. Forced relaxation time)
- Organised Bike Ride (Or Hike, Run, Walk) With Delicious Special Refreshments, Followed By Breakfast/Lunch
- Baked Cookies In An Upcycled Jar (Or Any Other Delicious Food)
- Trip To A Berry Picking Farm
- Carefully Curated Jar Collection
- Commit To A Day Helping Them In The Garden
- Library Membership
Gifts Under $50
Gifts Over $100
Life is so busy and finding the time to just RELAX with loved ones, where we’re not glued to our phones or anxious about what else we should be doing, is a challenge. Give the gift of offline time! Commit to spending an afternoon just hanging out, munching on grapes in the park, playing the odd game of pétanque (if you like) and committing to being the electronics police so you can both detox and enjoy some offline time.
We did this recently with a particularly active family member and it was such fun. You’re also giving the gift of time but with a little well-being and pizazz thrown in. If you handle all the organizing, bring along delicious snacks (like homemade cookies, lemonade, coffee) and finish with a relaxed meal somewhere, your loved one will love it! If you want to keep the costs down, just stick to the bike-ride with fancy snacks!
This is an oldie but a goodie. I recall receiving a jar of homemade cookies from a motherly, lovely family friend A REALLY LONG TIME AGO and I still remember it to this day. It was such a kind gesture and the cookies were delicious. Plus your person can re-use the jar afterwards!
This is obviously dependent on whether you have access to something like this. Where we live, you can drive out about an hour to a handful of berry farms, pay a few bucks entry fee and pick to your hearts content. You come home with a huge amount of berries which can be frozen or consumed fresh. It’s a super fun day out and great way to spend time together while also doing something productive. You can of course, also throw in a coffee, lunch or meal of some kind for fun too!
This one takes a little bit of planning. If you know your person is wanting to live more of a zero waste lifestyle (or already is), good sized jars are the.best.things.ever – you can never have enough! So a super thoughtful move is to start collecting jars for them way in advance and before you gift them, jazz them up a bit by painting the lids, adding nice labels (chalk paint could be fun), etc. I personally would LOVE this gift…
Again, this is a gift of time. If your loved one has a garden, there are always weeds to pull out, soil to turn, new things to plant, plants to water, etc. Help them and the environment by spending some time in nature and putting in a little labour, ideally with your loved one so as to get some good quality time together
For those who grew up before or during the 90s, this may have the added bonus of a taste of nostalgia! With the growing movement towards de-cluttering (hullo Marie Kondo), conscious consumption and the sharing economy, a huge collection of books is not what everyone wants… so for bookworm friends, a membership for their local library might be a fun way to remind them of some great local and in many cases free resources around them! For this one, you may need a little creativity as our local library requires some sort of ID to sign up – perhaps you could do a partial sign up on your loved one’s behalf and get them to finish the job when they come in for the first time… or convince your local library to start offering “Gift” memberships!
Another gift I go dilly for. Especially, beautiful indoor plants in a nice pot – such an exciting gift! Not everyone loves looking after plants so obviously do this only if it makes sense for your person. We all hate to see plants die! If you haven’t bought one of these before, you can find them in a lot of places these days (nurseries, hardware stores, fruit & veg shops, indoor interior shops) – IKEA even has plants now!
If your person is planning on growing a veggie garden and you know what type of veggies they would like, why not buy some seedlings or seeds for their favourite veggies? Ideally buy those which are suitable for the season and climate!
Most people who care about the environment have taken steps to living a more waste free life or are thinking about it. A zero waste starter kit can really help inspire some further action. Or if your person already has a kit, think about what could be missing and fill the gap. What is a zero waste starter kit? Glad you asked! This article can help with more context but also these are the essential items and some reusable product ideas that you could put into your kit (note, if you put all these things in the kit, it will be more than $50, so pick to your budget):
- Cutlery + Straw sets : USA | Canada | UK/Europe | Australia
- Beeswax wraps : USA | Canada | UK/Europe | Australia
- Cotton Napkins: USA | Canada | UK | Europe | Australia
- Reusable Shopping bags: USA | Canada | UK | Europe | Australia
- Produce Bags: USA| Canada | UK | Europe | Australia
- Food container: USA / Canada | UK / Europe | Australia
- Stainless steel water bottle: USA / Canada | UK / Europe | Australia
- Keep Cup: USA / Canada | UK / Europe | Australia
- Coffee Flask: USA / Canada| UK / Europe | Australia
For avid readers, books are fail safes! And if they’re on the path to learning as much as they can about eco-living and reducing their impact on the environment, a book that either educates or provides practical tips will be hugely appreciated. Here are some ideas, would love to hear from you if you have any more recommendations??
- Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
- Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual
- Lorenzo Fioramonti’s Wellbeing Economy: Success in a World Without Growth
- Steve Jenkin’s Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time
- Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
For low impact, eco friendly, conscious consumers, fashion has become a bit of tough one to navigate… many of us love fashion and love the feeling of confidence the perfect outfit can give but as we now know, fast fashion has been devastating for the planet. For those of us wanting to reduce our impact, thrift shopping has become a wonderful way to embrace creativity and look good at a lower cost to the wallet and the planet. Thrift stores often offer gift vouchers and many of them are set up as charities so by supporting them you are doing double good. Perhaps you can follow this gift up with a good old fashioned shopping trip to said thrift store, followed by coffee and cake…
This has to be one of our favourite gifts… not only is it thoughtful, it leaves (lol, leaves…) a legacy in your special person’s name – that tree will hopefully be there forever, producing oxygen, taking carbon out of the atmosphere and potentially feeding the planet. Arguably one of the most important things our generation can do is plant trees! There are some great organisations through which you can buy a tree gift:
- Greenpop SA – A tree planting organization that greens urban communities in South Africa, while educating and bringing people together (see our podcast episode with founder and “TREE-E-O”, Misha Teasdale)
- National Forest Foundation in the USA: “plant a tree for every $1 you give to our tree-planting programs, helping restore National Forests damaged by wildfire, insects, disease and other impacts” – This might be especially special for Californians, where there is increasing suffering from very serious wild fires
- One Tree Planted: This not-for-profit pools donations to help fund reforestation projects around the world, your tree donation will be directed to where it’s needed most. From One Tree Planted, you can also buy other tree related gifts (like a tree planting kit)
- The Woodland Trust in the UK allows you to dedicate an existing tree (or trees) to someone special which helps fund the planting and protecting of trees and woods across the UK
- The Heart of England in the UK offers not only the tree but also the experience of planting the tree together
- The Orangutan Project has tree planting gifts that “helps reforest land and expands orangutan habitat areas”
- Australia’s Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund sells e-Cards that are emailed directly to the recipients and on which you can choose how many trees you’d like planted in their name. Much like other tree planting options, this charitable fund plants in areas hard hit by fires (among other things). They have planted 5.4M trees so far!
Similar to tree planting, keeping an endangered species alive and well is pretty important business… much more so than yet another T-shirt or iPad! Last year, I was gifted a year’s worth of feed and shelter for a Jackal Buzzard from South Africa’s Radical Raptors which was such a wonderful and thoughtful gift. Here are some other excellent options. Let us know if you have any great ideas to add to this list!
- The Rhino Orphanage South Africa (Check out our interview with Wildlife Documentary Maker, Bonné de Bod to learn more about the Rhino Horn War and why Rhino Orphanages exist)
- The Owl Rescue Center in Johannesburg South Africa: Another one close to our hearts, we visited their Sanctuary and interviewed founder, Danelle on our podcast, these guys do incredible work to save, rehabilitate and release owls back into the wild
- The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to foster a baby Elephant in Kenya
- Wild is Life Elephant Nursery in Zimbabwe: We follow the movements of their baby Elephant, Moyo, such a cute and cheeky baby! There are so many important projects to contribute to at this nursery
- WWF offers adoptions for numerous species around the world
For eco friendly loved ones that love cosmetics but want to consume only the best, most ethical and sustainable options, a little care package of some select but ultra impressive options would go down a treat. Some of our favourites are listed below but also check out our full list of brands that we’ve looked into here (we’ve prioritized cruelty free, vegan, palm oil free products that have thoughtful packaging – ideally zero waste!): Cruelty-Free, Ethical And Sustainable Beauty Brands: The Master List and Cruelty-Free, Vegan And Sustainable Makeup Brands
Similarly, a set of personal care products like lotions, moisturizers, deodorants and soaps are always useful to most recipients. Below are some of our favourites that are cruelty-free, vegan, palm-oil free and in some cases, fit into a zero waste lifestyle!
Another classic gift! Why not put a spin on it and buy tickets to an eco film festival? Every major city now seems to have one of these so worth a google to see what’s on in your area. Otherwise, if this is not as convenient for you, organize a home movie night with zero waste popcorn and rent an eco-documentary. One that is super close to our hearts (as already mentioned above) is multi-award winning STROOP: Journey into the Rhino Horn War – be warned, it’s a tear jerker.
You can cook at home or head out for a nice dinner together where you can celebrate the special occasion and your lower impact dinner. Most major cities now have amazing Vegan or Vegetarian options. Use the Fair Food Forager App to find something near you.
Maybe your loved one lives minimally and may not personally want anything. Show you care by contributing to something they care about. Here are some great options:
We recently gifted this to a family member who is not overly eco-minded, the reception was well… mixed but polite. Perhaps reserve this one for those that are at Level 2 or 3 on their eco friendly journey ?. Check out our list of Indoor compost bins for ideas!
Headspace is a meditation app that takes even the most inexperienced through a series of guided meditations – starting with just 10 minutes a day and working up from there. We have gifted this in the past and it had long lasting positive change, we’d highly recommend it as most people won’t spend this sort of money on themselves for something as simple and as important as mediation. Not only is this a great zero waste option that does not add unnecessary consumption to the world, it also works to improve sustainability of the mind. Most of us are running about, busy out of our minds so remembering to sit quietly and focus on the now and living mindfully is critical. This is an extra special gift!
Another one probably reserved for someone special. Get out of town for a night or two and just do rejuvenating and relaxing things. You could also stay in eco-friendly accommodation like a Tiny House, a Yurt or an Earthship. Over at Airbnb, you can book nature experiences (like horseback riding with a farmer or hiking secret beaches) which could be a great way to force some relaxation! Add on a lovely dinner (either home cooked or out and about) and voila, the perfect gift!
For lovers of documentaries, this is a winner and so easy to do. Netflix offers gift cards and a huge variety of incredible eco documentaries, here are some of the most popular:
This is a fun one for the person that has everything and loves a laugh! One thing that is great about the current era is that eco-friendly toilet paper has become a real thing. There are a few brands that are making toilet paper out of recycled paper or using sustainably managed bamboo. They also donate a huge chunk of their earnings to charity, are packaged without plastic and don’t use any dyes or scents! Winning. Here are the best ones:
Whether a music lover, or sport super fan, consider getting two tickets to whatever gets their goat: ski lift ticket, yoga classes, dance lesson, just to name a few. Opt for digital tickets for true zero-waste goodness. The best part about this is you can do it together, so in that sense it’s a double gift!
The Fairphone has been on our wishlist for a LONG TIME. This is a mobile/cell phone that is built to last, with modular components and an entirely fair supply chain. The Fairphone is all about:
- Long lasting design: “both their original design and in designing their repair to be as easy as possible”
- Fair materials: “ tracing where our phone’s parts come from and creating demand for materials that are good for people and planet”
- Good working conditions: “we work closely with selected suppliers to assess the current situation, uncover the underlying issues and take a collaborative approach to improvement.”
- Reuse and recycling: “moving one step closer to a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repair of our phones, researching electronics recycling options and reducing electronic waste worldwide.”
It’s very likely that your eco friendly person already has one of these but if they don’t, a bicycle is an amazing vehicle for change (see what I did there ?), it has the power to create personal health while reducing carbon emissions. Buying second-hand is an even better way to be eco-friendly and save money! If your person is more into the sharing economy, why not get a membership to a bike sharing program in your city? OR if they already have a bike, get them a bike service and tune up! That is always something we all seem to be behind on…
An Eco retreat could come in many forms, it could be a camping Eco festival like South Africa’s Greenpop Tree Planting Festivals or it could be more of the relaxing or luxury type of retreats with mediation and yoga. It could just be a Responsible Travel themed holiday – Responsible Travel has some pretty epic ideas/holiday themes like turtle conservation, snow leopard tracking, no single use plastic, vegetarian and vegan and scuba diving conservation.
Personally, we’d LOVE to do our PDC (Permaculture Design Course) like this one, run by one of the co-founders of Permaculture, David Holmgren himself – it runs for 15 days where you camp on the property, participate in the yoga program and eat ethical and wholesome meals while learning about permaculture. There are of course other impressive course options for various topics and skill levels – with a quick google, it looks like “ethical hacking” is even a thing!
We probably went a bit overboard there but there are so many thoughtful ideas out there worth sharing! Applying a little creativity and coming from a place of care and love makes all the difference – we’re pretty sure you’ll find the recipient of your gift feeling extremely loved and grateful for having you in their life. Tell us what you think, what are you giving your loved ones this year?