Buying gifts this time of year can be a daunting task, and this is especially the case for conscious consumers.
You probably worry about being wasteful, and as much as you admire people who make their gifts rather than buy them, you just can’t seem to find the time (honestly, how do they do it?).
One solution to this dilemma is to shop small. There are plenty of independent brands that provide sustainable solutions to many of the products out there. These companies believe in transparency, fair wages, and responsible production, and they deserve your support!
Here are some ideas to kick-start your gift search. Almost all the products listed are under $45 and many of the companies mentioned are B Corporations.
If you want some more help, try installing the newly launched DoneGood Chrome extension – it suggests ethical alternatives while you shop online (there’s an app too).
1. Bamboo toothbrush by MABLE
Say goodbye to plastic toothbrushes and hello to this self-standing bamboo toothbrush by MABLE ($32 for a 4-pack). It’s biodegradable, so you can toss it in the compost bin after removing the bristles. As an added incentive, take 10% off your order by entering the code SMILE at checkout.
Not a fan of bamboo? Consider this toothbrush made from recycled yogurt cups.
2. Upcycled wallet by Rareform
Did you ever wonder how billboards are constructed, and what happens to them when they come down? Billboards are made of highly engineered vinyl, and it’s no surprise that they end up in landfills if not repurposed. Rareform collects billboards from around the U.S. and cuts and sews them into one-of-a-kind bags and accessories. Their bi-fold wallet ($24.95) has plenty of slots for cards and makes a great stocking stuffer. Take 20% off your order with the code HOLIDAY20.
3. Glass straws by Simply Straws
Simply Straws offers reusable glass straws as an alternative to disposable ones (an estimated 500 million drinking straws are discarded by Americans each day). Simply Straws also sells spill-free Mason lids that are custom made to fit their glass straws. This travel set ($40.25) would make a great gift and includes a Mason jar inside a koozie attached to a handy carabiner. Alternatively, buy a 6-pack of glass straws ($40) and pop a straw or two in everyone’s stocking.
4. Skateboard accessories by Bureo
Bureo aims to reduce ocean plastic pollution by recycling plastic fishing nets into new products like sunglasses and skateboards. Stick their eco-cruiser wheels ($42) in a stocking and hide the accompanying skate deck underneath the tree. Keep your eyes peeled for new innovations like this newly-launched ECOthane wheel, made from a unique soybean oil formula.
5. Recycled socks by OSOM
Everyone needs socks, and these 95% recycled textile socks by OSOM Brand fit the bill. OSOM Brand aims to reduce textile waste by transforming second-hand clothes into recycled thread for socks. Their process does not use water, toxins, or dyes (the blue color comes from recycled denim!). Their casual styles ($16) are unisex so the only real question you need to answer is: polka dots or stripes?
6. Tire-soled sandals by Indosole
A staggering number of tires are discarded each year – about 1 billion. When disposed of irresponsibly these tires wreak havoc on the land and become breeding grounds for dangerous virus-carrying mosquitos. Indosole makes a dent in this problem by repurposing waste tires into soles for footwear. Artisans in Indonesia hand cut the soles and apply them to high tops, slip-ons and sandals. You can enjoy 25% off sandals this holiday season, including the Double 6 ($41.25).
7. Sunglasses by Sunski
Sunski’s unisex shades come in an array of flattering shapes and make a nice stocking stuffer. Aside from being a 1% For The Planet member (supporting several organizations), they commit to less waste by offering a lifetime warranty and lens replacement kits ($3) so you can easily switch out the lenses if you accidentally sit on your sunglasses (we’ve all been there, right?). Buy a holiday mystery box for great savings – enjoy 25% off when you get a 4-pack ($41.25 per pair).
8. Utensils by To-Go Ware
To-Go Ware recycles PET plastic into colorful holders for their bamboo utensil set ($12.95). The set comes with a durable bamboo fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks. Now that bringing reusable shopping bags to the supermarket has become so common, hopefully the next wave will be all about carrying reusable utensils for meals on the go.
9. Food canister by MiiR
MiiR is also a maker of products for people on the go, with 5% of their revenue going towards traceable giving projects. You can purchase their stainless steel food canister ($35.95) or one of their reusable bottles to support clean water and sanitation projects in Southeast Asia and Africa. MiiR also sells bigger ticket items like bicycles and has provided mobility for students, refugees, and workers through the donation of thousands of bicycles.
10. Apron by MAFIA x Patagonia Provisions
MAFIA started out by upcycling old sails into bags and has since expanded their range. Their collaboration with Patagonia Provisions has given us a 100% upcycled apron made from old sails, climbing ropes, and pockets cut from retired Patagonia jackets. Grill masters would appreciate this gift, available at U.S. Patagonia stores. The apron is actually $98 (sorry!) but here’s an idea for under $45: the water-resistant and ultra light mini MAFIA bag ($39). Enter code SFWINDS for 20% off your order online.
11. Canteens by Klean Kanteen
Klean Kanteen is committed to being a better business and wants to help us all kick our single-use habits by providing reusable solutions. What better way to instill good habits than by starting early? Klean Kanteen offers super cute and colorful kid kanteens made of BPA-free materials, plus a variety of spill-free caps that you can switch out as the kids grow up ($24.95 and under).
12. Organic sun paste by MANDA
What do you get for a lover of the outdoors? How about non-toxic sun paste that uses only high quality, food grade, organic ingredients? With no harmful chemicals added, MANDA SPF 50 sun paste ($18) is safe for children and kind to coral reefs. It’s the perfect stocking addition for hikers, climbers, surfers, athletes – you name it.
13. Cotton filters by CoffeeSock
Do you know somebody who loves coffee and tosses a filter out every morning? CoffeeSock offers an alternative that is 100% organic cotton, does not compromise flavor, and keeps all those disposable filters out of the landfills. A pack of two cotton drip cones is $12.99 and they also offer attractive gift packs.
You can also find CoffeeSock products at Cuppow.
14. Detergent by The Simply Co.
Lauren Singer has blogged about her zero waste lifestyle at Trash Is For Tossers since 2012 and received so many messages from readers in search of toxic-free cleaning products that she founded The Simply Co. Her laundry detergent ($20) uses only USDA certified organic ingredients and comes in a reusable jar. Use code TRASHISFORTOSSERS for 10% off your order and check out Lauren’s blog for zero waste gift-wrapping tips.
15. Yoga wear by Teeki
Teeki yoga tanks (starting at $32) come in an array of colors and patterns and are made out of fabric spun from recycled plastic bottles (an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic pollution enter the world's oceans each year). Teeki also offers yoga bottoms and mats, and everything is made in the U.S.A. If you sign up for the newsletter you can get 10% off your first order.
16. Bracelets by Wanderer
When you browse Wanderer’s website, it’s obvious that the most popular item (based on reviews) is the Custom Coordinates bracelet ($22). You can use Google Maps to find the coordinates of a special place and have it engraved on an all-natural water buffalo bone bracelet – a small but very thoughtful stocking stuffer! Wanderer abides by fair trade guidelines and is also a member of 1% For The Planet.
17. Knit beanies by Krochet Kids
Krochet Kids is not eco-focused, but if you’re a the kind of consumer who asks #WhoMadeMyClothes (especially after watching “The True Cost”), you’ll be happy to know they make it super easy to find that information. All you have to do is turn their Alpaca beanie ($44) inside out to see the signature of the woman who made it, and then look up the corresponding profile on their website. You can even leave a thank you note for the artisan!
18. Microloan through Kiva
Kiva provides opportunities for entrepreneurs around the globe by crowdsourcing the money they need to further their businesses. When you give a Kiva card, the recipient can browse the list of projects and choose one to support with a $25 microloan (there are a number of interesting green projects). Once the money is repaid, it can be withdrawn or re-lent to another person or group, continuing the cycle. It’s a gift that keeps on giving!
19. Donation to a non-profit
As an eco-conscious consumer, it’s likely you already have some favorite environmental non-profits. For the friend or family member who doesn’t want any physical gifts, consider making a donation in their name to an organization that could use the money to further their research and efforts to spread environmental awareness.
This post is part of our “Reclaim” initiative, which showcases solutions to the issue of fashion waste and engages our readers to take action. You can find all the posts in this initiative, as well as feature pieces, investigative stories and video here. Follow the initiative on Twitter at #Reclaim.