15 Eco Friendly Gifts for Your Low-Impact Loved Ones
*This post contains affilate links
What’s your favorite holiday? One that doesn’t cost the planet anything?
Whatever the season, there’s always the opportunity to do a little sustainable giving! While holidays (birthdays, Christmas etc.) are a great excuse to break from diets, school, and work, they’re not an excuse to break from our sustainable efforts.
Climate change doesn’t go on vacation.
And the biggest perpetrator during the holiday season surprisingly isn’t travel emissions. It’s gift-giving, and the over-consumptive theme of modern holidays.
The sad reality is, we don’t even want (let alone need) a lot of the stuff we end up getting.
Then there’s the association between the monetary value of the gift and the perceived value of the relationship… which shouldn’t be the case.
We think, as cliche as it sounds, it’s the thought that counts.
So we set out to find the best eco friendly gifts for him and her that truly say “I care about you (and the future of our planet)”.
Oh and if your giftee is into zero waste (like we are), we recommend having a browse of our zero waste gift guide for some more waste free ideas!
QUICK LINKS FOR THE BEST ECO FRIENDLY GIFTS
Eco Friendly Gifts For Him and Her
- Cozy eco friendly slippers
- Snuggly ethical pajamas
- Unique artisan gifts
- Stunning sustainable jewelry
- Sexy Ethical Lingerie (or underwear)
- Stylish sustainable sunglasses
Budget / Inexpensive Eco Friendly Gifts
Eco Friendly Gifts For Him and Her
1. COZY ECO FRIENDLY SLIPPERS
As the northern hemisphere cozies up for winter and the holiday season kicks in, eco friendly slippers are everyone’s best friend. We practically live in ours!
If your loved one doesn’t have a pair of stylish, comfy house slippers, this one may be a winner of a gift – suitable for him, her and the kids.
For a full list of ideas, take a look at our list of the best ethical slippers. Our favorites include Baabuk’s Sustainable Wool Slippers for their natural rubber soles and ethically sourced wool. They’re also available in a wide range of colours.
We also love the fair trade wool Krygies which are made entirely by women artisans using centuries-old heritage wool felting techniques.
2. SNUGGLY ETHICAL PAJAMAS
Another winter delight, dreamy pajamas can be a game changer. And what a thrill to know that there are so many options for fabulous ethical pajamas these days.
We love Coyuchi, for their range of affordable ethical pjs for men and women, made from completely natural fibers.
And if your loved one is a fan of the super soft, Boody is the way to go with their silky smooth bamboo rayon pajamas (created through a closed loop process).
3. Unique Artisan Gifts
If you’re doing this year’s holiday shopping safely from home (as most of us are), you’ll want to reduce as much impact associated with online shopping as you can. And one sure way to do so is to support one of the many ethical online stores.
In that department, Ocelot Market is basically the star on top of the sustainability tree. This “maker to market” platform has partnered with over 100 different artisans and small crafting cooperatives (who receive 99% of all profits!) around the world to bring you unique, handcrafted items from homewares and candles, to clothing and beyond.
They also make gift shopping super easy, with a breakdown of specific gift categories like: For Him, For Her, For the Home, Under $50 or $100 and our favorite, Upcycled Gifts, which includes upcycled jewelry and colorful house shoes. And if you can’t decide (because there are so many choices), you can always opt for the fail-safe gift card.
4. Sustainable Jewelry
What says, “I love you” better than a pair of dewdrop diamond earrings? A pair of dewdrops that have also been sustainable and ethically made, of course! Take a look at our list of sustainable jewelry brands for a full range of ideas at every price point.
At the higher end and for a truly sustainable sparkle, you just can’t beat KBH Jewels. KBH completely avoids all the unethical practices of the jewelry industry by using reclaimed and scientifically engineered materials. This includes reclaimed gold (14K), lab-grown diamonds, and sustainably harvested pearls.
For a more affordable gift option, we love certified B Corp Soko who’s artisan jewelry designs are on point. They are also handmade, thus providing a livelihood for their artisans based in Kenya.
Another ethical gift idea for something a little special is an eco-friendly watch. One of our favorite brands is Solios who are super committed to sustainability and are made from long lasting Eco Leather (silicone) bands that are free of PVC, PU, and toxic waste.
For the holidays this year, Solios have released a special edition Make-A-Wish watch where for each watch sold, Solios will donate $50 to their charity partner, the Make A Wish Foundation.
5. SEXY LINGERIE (or Underwear)
Socks have become somewhat of a cliche Christmas gift (though not necessarily an unwanted one if they’re eco friendly socks), so why not put a little spin on the holiday essentials by giving a pair of ethical underwear.
Underwear as a gift?! Are we serious?
As serious as silk (as long as it’s cruelty free, that is).
Think about it: everyone (nudists aside) needs underwear and it’s usually the item we run out of first, forcing us to do laundry. So, giving more underwear will reduce the number of times they flip the switch on the washing machine.
Start by checking out Azura Bay for their wildly inclusive sustainable lingerie selection. They sell only the most eco-friendly intimates from a range of lingerie specialist brands.
And if your giftee is an active person, Organics Basics is the best fit. Their design is heat-regulating, anti-bacterial, and odor-controlling (don’t worry, they’re certifiably non-toxic).
Of course, if you’re looking for an intimate eco friendly anniversary and Valentine’s Day gift, some sustainable lingerie (like that from Reformation) says, “You’re sexy and so is saving the planet.” Ooh la la!
6. STYLISH SUSTAINABLE SUNGLASSES
Escaping the cold and snow this holiday season for a vacay somewhere sunny? Then gift your loved one a new pair of sustainable sunglasses to sport while relaxing on the beach (just don’t forget the reef safe sunscreen, too!).
There are two brands that we think shine particularly bright, both in a stocking and on the sand.
Pela Vision makes bioplastic sunglasses that are 100% biodegradable (!). How? By using all-natural flax combined with bioplastic (a material they call Flaxetate). Now that’s some flax-tastic sun protection.
And Pala Eyewear is great for a classic yet understated feel. Their biodegradable frames come from unique materials like recycled skateboards, FSC-certified sustainably-sourced wood, and recycled aluminum. They also have a few bioplastic models, made from biodegradable cotton-based acetate.
To put the shining star on these brands, both give back to causes like ocean cleanup and donate glasses to those in need.
Practical Eco Friendly Gifts
7. SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY AND PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
For eco friendly loved ones that love ethical and sustainable cosmetics, a little care package of some select but ultra-impressive options would go down a treat.
Even if they’re not a makeup lover per se, most people would appreciate some basic personal care essentials like shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, or some other useful care product.
Whenever we look for sustainable personal care products, we look for those that are non-toxic, cruelty free, vegan, palm oil-free products that have thoughtful packaging (ideally zero waste!).
If you aren’t sure what products they prefer, don’t just buy something for the sake of doing so. Even a sustainable product, if unwanted and unused, is still wasteful. In these cases, the above stores offer eco friendly gift cards so your loved one can pick exactly what scent of shampoo suits their fancy.
8. ECO FRIENDLY PHONE COVER
Want to be sure your gift is going to do more good than harm? How about an eco friendly phone case?
Rather than buy someone the latest cell phone (which is really expensive), give them a way to protect their current phone and make it last. It’s more affordable and sustainable, and less hassle for your giftee (because let’s be honest… the process of transferring files and setting up a new phone is a nightmare).
Pela Case’s name may sound familiar to you since they’re the biggest name in sustainable phone cases thanks to their innovative Flaxstic bioplastic and flax seed phone cases. Not only are their super shock absorptive and available in a huge range of colors to fit any person, they’re 100% biodegradable.
As are Studio eQ’s Lumber Armour personalizable phone cases. These stick-on phone veneers are great for those who want an even slimmer (but still protective case). Oh, and they’re made out of sustainably-sourced wood.
9. ECO FRIENDLY SNEAKERS
For a truly practical eco friendly gift, take a peek at your loved one’s shoe collection and see whether their runners are a bit, well, run out. If so, a new pair of ethical sneakers might be just what the personal trainer ordered.
Allbirds is one of our all-time favorite ethical sneaker brands. We each own a pair and would be thrilled to receive another of these oh-so-comfy shoes as a gift (when our current pairs wear out, of course).
Their biodegradable sneakers are made of either ZQ Merino wool or TENCEL Lyocell, complete with recycled plastic bottle laces, a partially recycled midsole, and carbon-negative EVA outsole.
Moving right down the alphabet to another one of our faves, Baabuk also makes cruelty-free wool sneakers with natural latex rubber outsoles. Choose between lighter styles suitable for activewear and thick, ultra-warm versions that could double as warm winter shoes.
They say great brands think alike, and that’s certainly true of Allbirds and Baabuk. Aside from the wool itself, both brands are a certified B-Corp, source their ethical wool from cruelty-free non-mulesed New Zealand sheep, and make slippers as well as sneakers (which considering we live in the era of stacations, maybe that’s not such a bad gift idea, too!).
Eco tees? Yes please!
T-shirts are a wardrobe staple, and while some people certainly have plenty in their closets already, your loved one may very well be in need of a new tee or two. Ladies, if your man insists on wearing the same holey and stained tees day after day, this one’s for you.
Our go-to is The Classic T-Shirt Company. If the name doesn’t tell you why this brand is an eco-friendly favorite, then consider that all their tees are made entirely from GOTS certified organic cotton and in adherence to fair trade principles.
And if it wasn’t already obvious, they’re style is, well…classic. Which means they’ll go with any outfit. Since the biggest factor of sustainable fashion (and a capsule wardrobe) is durability and the ability to replace lots of other garments, this one’s a real winner.
11. DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT MEMBERSHIPS
Subscriptions to various media services are some of the best eco friendly gifts because: A) many of us already rely on these services so you know your gift will get used, and B) they don’t support the continuation of the physical “stuff” economy that’s ruining our planet.
There are so many possibilities here. Whether your loved one is a reader, film buff, or fitness fanatic, here are a few suggestions.
Know someone who loves reading but doesn’t have the time? Audible has the world’s most comprehensive library of audiobooks. they’re all downloadable offline with no monthly limit.
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’ve used Headspace ourselves and we’ve gifted it before and as such 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, but it also works to improve the sustainability of the mind. Most of us are so over stimulated these days that the art of just sitting quietly is more important than ever.
Maybe your loved one prefers to take the edge off a long day a different way: with a good old-fashioned Netflix binge. For lovers of environmental documentaries, especially, this is a winner and so easy to do.
With the growing movement towards decluttering and minimalism (hullo Marie Kondo), conscious consumption, and the sharing economy, a huge collection of books is not what everyone wants. It may not be digital but for friends who aren’t into eBooks and prefer the real deal, a membership to their local library is a fun way to remind them of some great local and in many cases free resources around them.
It’s not only a great option if you’re on a budget but, when gifted to those who grew up before or during the 90s, this may have the added bonus of a taste of nostalgia.
For this one, it’s worth mentioning that you may need a little creativity as our local library usually 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…
Budget / Inexpensive Eco Friendly Gifts
12. ZERO WASTE STARTER KIT
Nothing says, “Earth-Happy Holidays” better than a carefully curated collection of items that will help your loved one reduce their waste ALL YEAR LONG!
Most people who care about the environment have taken steps to live a more waste free life or are thinking about it. A zero waste starter kit can really help inspire some further action. For pre-made kits with all kinds of reusables designed to cut down on some of our heaviest plastic usage, check out the variety from EarthHero.
If your person already has a kit, think about what could be missing and fill the gap. Or just go total DIY and make a complete kit yourself. For either intent, we recommend you check out some of our favorite zero waste stores: Well Earth Goods and EarthHero. From plastic free food storage and eating accessories to zero waste bathroom supplies, these shops have all you need (totally plastic free, down to the shipping).
13. ZERO WASTE AND SUSTAINABILITY BOOKS
For avid readers, books are a fail-safe eco friendly gift.
And if they’re on the path to learning as much as they can about sustainability and reducing their impact, a book that either educates or provides practical tips will surely be highly appreciated. Here’s our own list of favorite books for some ideas.
If you can, opt for used books, or even re-gift from your bookshelf – if they’re into eco-living they’ll understand!
But for the ultimate eco friendly book gift, buy an ebook or a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. Or if reading per se isn’t their thing, access to an unlimited amount of audiobooks through Audible takes all the effort out of staring at a page.
14. PLANT A TREE
Who doesn’t love a good Christmas tree? Except this year, instead of chopping one of those precious carbon sequesterers down, plant one as a gift instead!
Or at the very least, buy them a gift from a brand that plants trees, like tentree, which plants ten trees for every.single.purchase.
It won’t just put a fresh spin on the next special occasion, but a fresh spin on the planet by providing oxygen. Trees are a great way to not only beautify the world but counteract climate change through their carbon sequestering. Trees are magical.
They’re especially fantastic gifts for outdoor lovers.
Whether you want to go out and buy a tree and plant it together or just purchase a tree planting through one of many organizations is up to you. Either way, you’re showing your loved one you care by investing a little in them and the future of our world.
There are some great organizations through which you can gift a tree:
- Greenpop SA: A tree planting organization that greens urban communities in South Africa, while educating and bringing people together (see our podcast episode with the 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 wildfires.
- 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: Allows you to dedicate an existing tree (or trees) to someone special which helps fund the planting and protection of trees and woods across the UK.
15. DOTATION ON THEIR BEHALF
Similar to tree planting, gifting a charitable donation to a cause they care about is a great way to show you care without cluttering the world with more stuff.
Obviously, there are endless charities out there and you might have to do some digging to find one they’re passionate about. If you can’t find one, there are flexible donation platforms (MyCause Australia, Global Giving, and Daymaker) that allow the recipient to decide where your money goes for themselves.
Personally, we love sponsoring endangered or threatened animals. Keeping an endangered or threatened species alive and well is critical to our biodiversity… much more so than an iPad or yet another pair of unsustainable socks (though some sustainable socks might be a different story…).
- 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: Another one close to our hearts, we visited their Sanctuary in Johannesburg South Africa and interviewed founder Danelle on our podcast. These guys do incredible work to save, rehabilitate and release owls (and many other animals) back into the wild.
- 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.
- We were once gifted a year’s worth of feed and shelter for Valkyrie, a Jackal Buzzard from South Africa’s Radical Raptors which was such a wonderful and thoughtful eco friendly gift.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SUSTAINABLE GIFT IDEAS
One final sustainable gift idea we came across was a gift registry called So Kind. Here you can register requests for gifts that are meaningful to you and share them with your loved ones.
So Kind says their platform: “encourages the giving of homemade gifts, charitable donations, secondhand goods, experiences, time, day-of-event help, and more. Here’s to more fun and less stuff!”
That reminds us, re-gifting or buying second-hand will always be more eco friendly. Though, if you do need to buy this list should provide a few sustainable gift ideas.
Making conscious choices about the brands we choose to support and products (or in this case sustainable gifts) we choose to buy. Applying a little creativity and coming from a place of care and love makes all the difference – we’re sure your giftee will feel loved and grateful for having you in their life.
Before you go, tell us what you’re giving your loved ones this year?