Are you like me — haunted by nightmares of Black Friday stampedes? Dreading contributing to the rampant consumerism that plagues this time of the year? Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year but it’s also the most wasteful.
I’m here to tell you that you actually can do good this year without being a total scrooge. I’ve put together a list of gifts you can give that actually help save the planet.
I separated the list into different categories so you can be shop by interest. Either scroll through or click to jump to the section you need:
Meet the super-stylish eco-friendly Re-Kanken Mini. Same design as the original backpack, but made from 100 percent recycled material. This special edition pack is made entirely from polyester recycled from plastic bottles. It's dyed with SpinDye technology that reduces the amount of water, energy, and chemicals used.
Osprey is a company with a conscious. Their products are made without BPA, PVC/phthalates and triclosan. They ship all their products in recycled cardboard shipping boxes and are committed to limiting waste in production. What makes Osprey truly stand out in my mind is their All Mighty Guarantee. Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If they are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, they will happily replace it. This keeps their backpacks out of landfills and prevents waste.
Is it a towel? Is it a yoga mat? Yes and yes. Their goal was to make a towel that works for EVERY activity — camping, swimming, backpacking, yoga, etc. The towel is two sided with prints inspired by travel and adventure and is made from recycled material. Their motto — which I love — is #ownlessdomore.
You eat out a LOT when you travel. I’ll admit that most nights during my semester in Thailand I would buy a meal from a street food stand and bring it back to my apartment. That’s four months of styrofoam containers and plastic cutlery that will haunt me forever. Cut down on plastic waste with this bamboo utensil set. They’ll last forever and when you’re done with them you can just throw them in a compost bin!
Another big wasteful habit when traveling — especially to more rural areas — is buying plastic water bottles. If your loved one is traveling to a developed country with clean water supplies, grab a cute metal or glass water bottle and send them on their way. If clean water access is an issue, enter the LIfestraw Bottle. This bottle has a built-in filtration system to filter out harmful bacteria and microorganisms. Perfect for rural travel or backpacking!
Renewable and readily available resources like solar power are great alternatives to traditional power sources. A solar power bank is a great gift for someone who is really into camping, takes frequent long bus rides or flights, or who is traveling to places with frequent power outages (I’m thinking about you Thai Islands).
Travel Experiences & Causes
Giving a gift doesn’t always have to be about unwrapping a physical present. Donate to a cause that your recipient is passionate about or book them an eco-conscious trip that supports a local economy. One great company that gives back is Responsible Travel. If you opt into their Trip for a Trip program, they provide a day trip for a disadvantaged child in a developing country for each trip purchased. Lokal Travel is another great company that curate unique, sustainable tours that benefit the local community.
The Sustainable Fashionista
My absolute favorite company for leggings is Girlfriend Collective. Their leggings and activewear are not only unbelievably high quality — I’ve had mine for three or four years and they still look new — but they’re also made from recycled water bottles and fishing nets. They produce their apparel in sustainable factories that use innovative wastewater recycling technologies and provide above-average wages for their workers. I’ve been a huge fan of Girlfriend since their launch and I tell people about them on a weekly basis.
One of my favorite brands that gives back. Love Your Melon just dropped a line of eco-friendly lightweight beanies made entirely out of recycled plastic water bottles. LYM is already a super awesome company that donates 50% of their proceeds to the fight against pediatric cancer.
Thinking Mu uses materials like organic cotton, organic merino wool, banana fabric, and eco vero to make their sustainable chic pieces. Their factories don’t participate in any child labor, forced labor, extended working hours, or discrimination. They’re also trying to change the fast fashion culture by opting out of doing sales.
The Eco Skincare Junkie
I’ve been using these shampoos for a couple of months now and they are a total game changer. No wasteful packaging, no yucky chemicals, no problem. I’ve tried solid shampoos from other brands (ahem Lush) and these blow them out of the water. They don’t leave any residue and my hair feels just like it does after regular shampoo.
Rahua is a natural haircare brand dedicated to the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people who live there. Rahua’s rainforest-cultivated ingredients, grown in symbiosis with the wild, rely on healthy, virgin forests and are made in accordance with traditional methods and rituals that have been passed down for generations.
The Everyday Earth Lover
GreenUp Box is a monthly subscription box that includes practical items to help you make switches to a more zero-waste lifestyle. For example, the workday box that I received included a metal and silicone lunchbox, bamboo utensils, a cotton snack bag, a silicone food storage bag, and a cap that converts a mason jar into a coffee cup. Each box contains 4-6 artfully crafted, sustainable, and eco-friendly items that are curated around a theme and valued at $70+!
Soap nuts are a berry shell that naturally contain a soap called saponin. Saponin is a natural cleaner that works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric, and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away. Soap nuts are gentle on clothes can extend the life of your apparel and textiles.
The food that we throw away releases a lot of methane into the earth because it doesn’t properly break down at the dump. Composting at home can save tons of harmful gases from being released into the atmosphere. Additionally, if you have a garden, composting returns valuable nutrients to the soil to help maintain soil quality and fertility.
Happy (green) shopping!