This sustainable gift guide will help you give with the environment in mind this holiday season. In my family, I’m known for two things: my commitment to the environment (I’ve taken bags of frozen food scraps on public transportation to the nearest compost site) and my gift-giving skills. I wanted to combine these two aspects to choose the perfect sustainable gifts this year—and I thought I’d share my expertise!
Here are my top 10 sustainable holiday gift ideas for every recipient:
1. Recycle, but make it fashion: Ideal For The Project Runway Binger
For a fashion-forward friend, consider clothing made from recycled plastic bottles or upcycled fabric. More and more brands are adding pieces made from recycled materials, from athletic wear by Girlfriend Collective and Patagonia to luxury fashion from Prada and Gucci. Who knew sustainability could be so chic?
2. Steel drinking from plastic: Ideal For The Sustainability Beginner
Tired: plastic water bottles.
Wired: stainless steel water bottles.
They’re sleek, stylish, and more eco-friendly than reusable plastic bottles. Stainless steel bottles also tend to be insulated, so your recipient can use it for coffee, tea, or soup.
3. Waste not, want not: Ideal For The Gardener/Home Cook
You don’t need a backyard, or even a lot of space to compost! A composter makes the perfect sustainable holiday gift for someone who wants to minimize their waste or up their gardening game. Compost, made up of nutrient-rich organic material, soil, and water, is excellent plant fuel.
4. DIY it up: Ideal For The Hardest To Shop For
One of the most heartfelt—and sustainable—gifts you can give is something that you make yourself! Tap into your creative side to make something tailored to your giftee, be it their favorite cookies, a piece of art, or a product of your cross-stitching hobby.
5. Go all the way waste-free: Ideal For The Activist
The most sustainable gift is one that has no packaging at all! Donating in your giftee’s name to an environmental nonprofit or projects, like the GlobalGiving Climate Action Fund, goes even further by protecting forests and endangered species and helping communities around the world become more sustainable.
6. The gift of responsible relaxation: Ideal For The One Who Needs To Take A Breath
Put together a kit for sustainable self-care! Pick a few minimal or no-waste favorites like bath bombs, solid lotion, bar soap, and solid shampoo and conditioner. You can even add a safety razor for a waste-free shaving option. Bonus points if you can find a Do Not Disturb sign made of sustainable bamboo.
7. One in a billion: Ideal For The Social Media Star
For the person in your life who is attached to their phone—so, just about everyone—check out these sustainable phone cases. One billion phone cases are produced from plastic each year and will end up spending far longer in a landfill than they did in their user’s pocket. Cases made from cork or plant-based materials can be recycled or composted!
8. Zero-waste starter pack: Ideal For The Recent Sustainability Convert
If your recipient is committed to a plastic-free lifestyle but doesn’t know where to start, look no further than a zero-waste kit! With basics like reusable sandwich bags, cloth produce bags, shampoo bars, and beeswax wrap, a kit is the perfect gift to set someone up for their waste-free journey.
9. Along for the ride: Ideal For The Adventurer
Giving an experience rather than an object is the ultimate sustainable gift. Check out a masterclass, an annual pass to national parks, or a you can both try. After all, the greatest gift is being able to spend time together!
10. A virtual gift for the virtual age: Ideal For The Socially Distanced Giftee
Another waste-free gift option is a digital gift card. Bought and used completely online, you don’t have to wrap it or worry about it arriving on time. A GlobalGiving Gift Card lets the recipient choose from thousands of nonprofit projects—working for every cause from coral conservation to forest regeneration—to support in 170+ countries. You can give the sustainable holiday gift that keeps on giving with a GlobalGiving Gift Card.
Shannon Sullivan was raised in North Carolina and currently resides in Washington, DC. After graduating from New York University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in French, she interned at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York and then spent several months in France teaching English to elementary school students. She works at GlobalGiving.com, a nonprofit that supports other nonprofits in more than 170 countries, as part of the Marketing and Communications team.