Sustainable Gift Guide!
A huge part of going “zero waste” is becoming a conscious consumer and learning to buy only what you truly need. So how does this square with the holidays and the annual shopping frenzy that ensues? Should we be abandoning the time-honored, gift-giving tradition (or at least the material ones)? Well, we don’t necessarily think so! There’s something special about taking the time to really think about a loved one and what it is that they might want or need and translating it into an act of love by gifting it to them. Gift giving, after all, is a love language!
Can gift-giving be wasteful? Absolutely. So try to tackle the tradition with thought and intention instead of with impulse buys and cheap stocking stuffers. Creating wish lists or purchasing gift cards are great ways to reduce the likelihood of waste. And to minimize the impact your gift has on people and the planet, only buy from ethical, sustainably-minded brands. Does your loved one insist they don’t want anything (and they really mean it)? There are plenty of thoughtful gifts that aren’t things! We’ve collected some of our favorite gift ideas below, ranging from material gifts, to consumables, to donations, to experiences.
Looks like we’ll be starting 2021 with a lot of time to be cozy at home so we’re considering sweats and loungewear to be excellent gifts this year! Some of our recs:
Girlfriend is an ethical activewear company whose level of transparency should be what all brands aspire to. Their website details the types of fabrics they use (rePET, made from post-consumer plastic bottles and Econyl, made from discarded fishing nets and other waste, just to name a few!), it details their supply chain along with proof of certifications like OEKO-TEX and Social Accountability International, and it includes their efforts to protect the environment (ex. using eco-friendly dyes and ensuring wastewater is cleaned and cooled appropriately).
Pangaia is a global collective, UK-based material science company that has spent years researching and developing sustainable fabrics. Through the technology they work with, they aim to solve the fashion industry’s environmental problems. Pangaia has patented a vegan alternative to down feathers made of wildflowers, uses a fiber made of seaweed, makes products out of post consumer recycled materials like plastic bottles, ensures their cotton is GOTS certified organic, and their dyes are made from food waste, plants, fruits and vegetables.
3. Christy Dawn
Christy Dawn is a sustainable clothing brand striving to go above and beyond “sustainable.” Based in Los Angeles, they repurpose deadstock (excess fabric from other companies) to make new styles. As they’ve grown, they have also begun investing in regenerative cotton farming in India, cultivating a “Farm-to-Closet” production model. Their clothing is made to last and designed to be timeless.
Basics are also a great gift, especially from an eco-friendly brand that uses durable, high-quality materials. A couple of our favorites:
Based in Boulder, Colorado, PACT is an affordable yet sustainable option for everyday basics. All of PACT’s cotton is GOTS certified organic and they work with Fair Trade certified factories to ensure strict social standards are met. They also offer the option to offset the carbon footprint of your shipment!
An underwear, activewear, and essentials brand based and made in Europe, Organic Basics is transparent about their supply chain, listing all of their factories and certifications. They source low impact materials like Tencel and recycled cashmere and their cotton is GOTS certified organic. Organic Basics is a carbon neutral company and a certified B Corp.
From loungewear to casual clothes to technical gear, we love:
Patagonia has long been a leader in the world of sustainable fashion. Founded by a band of climbers and surfers, protecting the natural environment has been at Patagonia’s core from the beginning. All cotton is GOTS certified organic and over half of Patagonia’s fabrics are made of recycled materials. They are members of both 1% for the Planet and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Considering itself an activist company, Patagonia has provided grants to over a thousand local, grassroots environmental organizations.
Founded by surfing legend Kelly Slater, Outerknown was the first brand to pursue Fair Labor Association accreditation before ever shipping a product. 90% of their fibers are organic, recycled, or regenerated and 100% of their trunks are Fair Trade sewn and made of recycled or renewable fibers. Outerknown is committed to circularity in the fashion industry and outlines an impressive 2030 Plan consisting of sustainability and community engagement goals.
Thousand Fell has created “Full-Circle Footwear!” Worn out, Thousand Fell sneakers can be sent back to the factory where they will be restored and donated to someone in need, or they will be disassembled and separated by material to either be recycled or composted. We love seeing brands take responsibility for the products they create by investing in circularity! Thousand Fell is a member of 1% for the Planet and is in the process of becoming a B Corp.
Made of sustainable materials like FSC certified Tencel, ZQ Merino certified wool, sugarcane, castor bean, and recycled plastic, Allbirds creates trendy and comfy sneakers and slip ons. They’re a B Corp, carbon neutral company committed to measuring and reporting their footprint with the goal of eventually becoming carbon negative.
Inspired by brands like Patagonia and TOMS, this direct-to-consumer company makes comfortable footwear out of 100% recycled plastic water bottles. They’ve also added an RWS certified merino wool collection!
We discovered these two brands on Made Trade, an ethical and sustainable marketplace for small businesses, artisans, and independent makers. It’s a great place to source a thoughtful, sustainable gift! A couple jewelry brands we fell in love with:
Beautiful, handmade jewelry designed in Asheville, NC and made in Manchewe Village, Malawi. The team is paid a living wage and a portion of sales are invested in community development initiatives.
Nisolo is a certified B Corp and all of their jewelry is made out of upcycled brass by independent artisans in Kenya. Nisolo reports that their artisans in Kenya make 14% above the living wage in rural Kenya.
Gifts That Do Good
1. Non-profit Merch (Surfrider Foundation shown above) or simply a donation in a loved one’s name if they prefer not to receive a gift
One year, my mom “adopted” my siblings and my favorite animals from the World Wildlife Fund. She opted out of the symbolic stuffed animal (which we did not need) and gave us each a “certificate of adoption.” It was a cute way to donate to a good cause and also make it personal! Choose a cause near and dear to your loved one and purchase their merchandise if it’s a useful item or simply donate in their name!
GOTS certified organic and Fair Trade certified socks that help change the world for the better! Each purchase supports a cause/non-profit organization of your choice. Causes include (but are not limited to!) conserving rainforests, fighting for equality, empowering women, and restoring our oceans.
3. Carbon Offsets (TerraPass, Native Energy, GoClimate)
Last year, I flew home to be with my family for Christmas. My sister gifted me carbon offsets for my flight! It was such a clever, thoughtful gift! These are a few sites we recommend when looking to purchase offsets.
Gifts That Taste Good!
Handmade aperitifs from Sonoma County, California! Their product is farm-to-bottle and contains real fruits, herbs, and botanicals. Yummy flavors include Spiced Cherry, Lemon Lavender, Citrus Flower, and more!
Alter Eco’s chocolate is 100% organic, 100% Fair Trade, and 100% sourced from small-scale farmers. Beyond organic, Alter Eco is investing in regenerative farming. They’ve launched the Alter Eco Foundation to help cacao farmers transition from monoculture to regenerative agroforestry. Alter Eco has even created the world’s first compostable, non-GMO, non-toxic candy wrapper!
3. Bake something!
We’ve had a lot of time to work on our baking skills this year! If you’re looking to pass on physical, material gifts, why not show off your perfected sourdough recipe or banana bread loaf? If baking’s still not your thing, put together a “cookie mix in a jar!” Find instructions here from the Zero Waste Chef.
We’re a huge fan of gifting experiences! But it’s definitely a little trickier this year. Here are a couple of ideas we love!
Trying to think of the perfect gift for an outdoor enthusiast? For $80, you can gift unlimited access to U.S. National Parks for a whole year!
It’s been a tough year so what better way to start 2021 than with a healthy new habit of daily meditation?! You can gift a year subscription to Headspace, a guided meditation app, for just $69.99.