There are plenty of ways to make sure that your gifts are environmentally sustainable and contribute something of value to your loved one’s life. Here are some eco-friendly gift ideas for you to consider as a starting point on your gift-buying journey.
Gift-giving is one of the most important rituals we have as a society. It’s a way to let people know that they matter to us, and the gifts that we choose to let them know can be a reminder of your relationship every time that they look at them going forward. That said, if you are thinking of the planet on a regular basis, certain gifts start to look different.
What might have been a lovely gift initially might have negative impacts on the planet that sour your relationship with it, and that can make what was a well-intentioned gift for a friend or loved one into something less lovely than it deserves to be.
Reusable Water Bottle
Approximately 70 million disposable water bottles are used every day in the USA alone. These bottles are bad for the planet on several different levels. The initial production of these bottles has a significant carbon footprint. Then, when they are disposed of, whether properly or improperly, they can produce microplastics and waste that will stay in the environment for years to come.
Reusable water bottles, on the other hand, have none of these problems. Personal water bottles can also be a fun accessory, sporting designs and colors that make them nice to use and look at on a daily basis. Better yet, by using local water sources from your tap or filter, you reduce the need to ship water across the country or even across the world, saving tons of emissions.
Takeya Actives offers a multipurpose insulated water bottle with a range of translucent colors suitable for everyday carry. If your loved one needs something a little more heavy-duty, guaranteed to keep water cold for over 24 hours, try a classic HydroFlask.
Traditional cling wrap was a decent solution for fitting a lid over an oddly-shaped dish. It’s also convenient – cling wrap is stretchy, malleable, and easy to tear, which makes it great for all sorts of applications. Unfortunately, it is difficult to recycle, so it ends up in landfills before eventually breaking down into microplastics. Both microplastics and large pieces of cling wrap can harm ocean life, as they may be mistaken for food. Microplastics have even been found in the human bloodstream.
With lots of fun designs, beeswax wraps can be a convenient item that brings joy every day. Bee’s Wrap beeswax wraps come in a wide array of colors, sizes, and types. Pick a selection and arrange them in a pretty reusable basket with a few other sustainable items.
Stainless Steel Straw Set
Straws are one of the most common plastic products in the world. Unfortunately, they are also discarded much more carelessly than most other trash. Because of their small size and lightweight, it’s also easier for them to make their way into local waterways, where they can choke wildlife or break up into microplastics, which have a negative impact on the whole ecosystem.
Organic Cotton Tote Bag
Overuse of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers has a significant impact on our planet. Pesticides such as neonicotinoids have decimated our native insect populations. This deprives us of the services of native bees and other pollinators who are absolutely crucial to the sustenance of our food systems.
Harp and Ra produce canvas tote bags in an array of striking colors. Your friend will love the pockets both inside and outside the bag for keeping everything organized.
Indoor Herb Garden Kit
Every time you buy herbs from a store, it’s important to ask questions about them in order to make certain that you understand the choice you’re making. Were your herbs grown with synthetic fertilizers? What kinds of pesticides were put to use in order to get your produce to market? Was this product grown locally – and if not, how much fuel and carbon emissions were involved with trucking the herbs to the grocery store and into your hand? These simple herbs are also never going to be as fresh, as vibrant, or as delightful as something that was handpicked from the garden.
What if there was another easy alternative? For so many herbs, you only need a few leaves or a handful at a time, and that can be provided by a small indoor herb garden that will keep you in herbs for years to come if you take care of it properly. This is the perfect gift that keeps on giving for the chef in your life, who can set up their garden within reach of the stove and use it regularly, no matter whether they’re in the city or in the country. A tiny little herb kit can deliver all of the flavors with none of the fear.
If you’re looking for something fancy, the AeroGarden self-waters and provides a grow light on a timer. If your loved one needs something a little more entry-level, Spade to Fork offers a highly accessible kit perfect for beginners.
Bamboo Cutlery Set
Who hasn’t had this happen? You’re short on time, and you need dinner, so you grab a dish to go. You realize that you don’t have a fork or knife on you, and so, with a pang of guilt, you use some disposable plastic cutlery from your favorite takeout place. People do this every day as they try to squeeze time to eat into their busy lives.
Bamboo cutlery sets are a great way around this problem. The best versions come with carrying cases that are compact enough to fit in your bag, easy to clean, and good for the planet. Bamboo grows so fast that if it isn’t regularly cut down, it will choke off new growth. Plus, every inch of bamboo that grows sops up carbon from the atmosphere, so if your bamboo is sourced from a sustainable operation, you’re eliminating carbon emissions in two different ways.
Organic Tea Sampler
Making synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is one of the most carbon-intensive processes that we engage in on the planet. Producing synthetic nitrogen fertilizer requires very large machines working around the clock at incredibly high temperatures, and this creates huge levels of carbon emissions. Approximately 1.13 Gigatons (50,850,000,000,000 lbs) of CO2 are released in the process of making synthetic fertilizer every year, accounting for over 1 out of every 50 lbs of carbon dioxide that humanity expels as a whole.
Making organic choices, like picking organically grown teas, lets you avoid supporting the creation of synthetic nitrogen for crops. Tea enthusiasts can choose from a variety of lovely teas with the confidence that synthetic nitrogen wasn’t used to grow them. They are also free of conventional pesticides and other compounds which have a significant impact on the ecosystem around them (like the neonicotinoids that we mentioned earlier). Organic tea gives your friend peace of mind that the little cup of calm you gave them is only what it seems: delicious.
Natural Soy Candle
Many candles are made out of paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum production that contains a lot of carcinogens. Unfortunately, beeswax candles aren’t always a ready alternative since the harvesting of beeswax is disruptive to the hive and has to be done very carefully to keep the hive healthy. Even with ethical harvesting, there simply isn’t enough beeswax to go around.
Solar-Powered Phone Charger
We use our phones nearly every single day; in fact, you might be reading this post on one now. All that use takes energy that we burn throughout the day, and a huge amount of that power production comes from fossil fuels. In fact, about 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuel power plants, which accelerate global climate change and threaten our planet’s future. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up your phone just yet.
Portable solar-powered phone chargers are a great way to get your charge from the sun and keep it with you when you’re on the go. These chargers have their own solar panel, which lets you grab a charge just about anywhere on a sunny day. Even on those cloudy days, solar phone chargers can act as battery packs, storing the excess energy they produce.
Sustainable Shopping Is a Way of Life
Making sure that your purchases are as sustainable as possible, even when you’re buying gifts for your friends and loved ones, is a simple way to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. Whether it’s replacing a disposable product or supporting ethical agriculture, it feels good to know that you’re doing what you can when you can. It’s only by continuing to make sustainable choices in our own lives and making our voices continually heard that we have a chance to save this beautiful planet we live on.
The sustainable shopping mission doesn’t stop at gift-giving. We have guides for bringing sustainability to all areas of your life. Whether it’s working to make your business more sustainable in the long run or introducing the principles of living a sustainable life to the kids in your life, we have guides that can help you do just a little bit more. For more information about sustainability of all types – and some great tips along the way – follow the Boon Room blog for more tips on making an environmental impact.
Jenny Weatherall is the co-owner and CEO of Eminent SEO, a design and marketing agency founded in 2009. She has worked in the industry since 2005, when she fell in love with digital marketing… and her now husband and partner, Chris. Together they have 6 children and 3 granddaughters.
Jenny has a passion for learning and sharing what she learns. She has researched, written and published hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics, including: SEO, design, marketing, ethics, business management, sustainability, inclusion, behavioral health, wellness and work-life balance.