By Hyunjee Lee
‘Tis the season to be environmentally-conscious! All the below gifts have a fun eco-twist that your friends and family– and the earth– will thank you for.
Pro Tip: Before you buy bags and wrapping paper, remember that many stores have holiday designs for their purchase bags during this season. Use those paper bags or newspapers instead of spending money on wrappings.
For those who like to be pampered:
This balm reduces pore visibility and comes in a unique egg-shaped container. Once you use all of the balm, which is in the bottom section of the container, you can scoop some soil into it and plant a seed. Pop out the top and let the plant grow out through the egg.
Make it a present to your friends and yourself. Indulge in a girls’ night in, watching movies and doing nails. Zoya is a brand that promises its nail polish to be formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, camphor and dibutyl phthalate free. Considering the lack of chemicals, the nail polish stays on for an impressive amount of time.
Pro Tip: If you want to give bath bubbles, lotion or some kind of cosmetics, try searching for it in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. If the product of your interest is in the database, you can read through what chemicals it contains and what kind of impact it will have on the environment.
For those who are practical:
So it’s not the most glamorous of gifts, but we bet everyone on your list likes clean clothes. And most people still use one-use dryer sheets without knowing that the sheets can be toxic to them and the environment. Surprise your laundry-lovin’ friends and family with a set of wool dryer balls instead. They separate clothes in the dryer, allowing more hot air to circulate and resulting in a quicker dry time. Each set will last approximately 1000 loads, years of laundry.
Still have friends who buy bottled water? Launch them into the 21st century by giving them a reusable water bottle, like Kleen Kanteen. They’re available in an array of colors and are made from stainless steel, which means no adverse health effects from plastic. Plus many coffee stores charge less for bringing reusable thermoses, so you’re really saving your friend money too. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Paper wallets such as these made from Tyvek are waterproof, durable and environmentally-friendly. Making conventional leather wallets uses harmful chemicals and releases pollutants from tanneries, but these wallets are made from post consumer recycled plastic and are 100 percent recyclable. Plus they’re cheaper than leather and won’t get ruined easily—perfect for all your outdoorsy friends.
For those who are constantly hungry:
Do you and your friends enjoy picnics? Get each of yourselves reusable and sustainable travel-size utensils to take instead of one-use plastic ones. This set includes chopsticks, a spoon, fork and knife, and is made from bamboo. Plus it comes in a carrycase made of recycled plastic bottles!
Organic, Fair-Trade Chocolate
The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without chocolate. But make sure what you’re consuming is good for the earth—opt for organic, fair-trade brands. Endangered Species Chocolate is one great option, and ten percent of their profit supports species conservation. Check out this link for some other fair-trade, organic chocolate brands!
Pro Tip: Avoid teeny-tiny individually-packaged portions like these. Once all those little wrappers are piled high, the guilt is real. Opting for larger portions avoids waste, and you get to eat more, so everyone wins. Go big or go home.
Help your friends ditch the disposable Ziplocs and reduce their waste with a BNTO canning jar adapter. The reusable cup is made from BPA-free plastic and fits into a mason jar to carry salad and dressing, fruit and nuts or cookies and milk combos.
For those who like to accessorize:
One hour of sunlight will power the Q&Q SmileSolar Series watch for three months. The watch is made with recycled materials and a portion of the sales goes to Table for Two, a program that delivers meals to students in Africa and Asia.
Handmade Pebble Earrings
A pair of cute pebbles, earring backs and super glue are all you need for this crafty accessory. Simply glue the pebbles onto the earring back and you have a thoughtful, earthy gift! You can even color in the stones to make them a bit more polished.
Cork Accessory Board
The perfect way to upcycle! Glue together wine corks (not that you have any of those lying around…) or connect them with wire to create a board. Your friends can use tacks to pin necklaces, rings, bracelets and other accessories to it. For a full how-to, click here.
For anyone and everyone!
Gone are the days when you had to physically go out to buy gift cards. Save time and waste by sending your friends and family online or mobile gift cards straight to their emails or phones.
Anyone, with or without a green thumb, can use plants to spruce up a room or office. For those who like a challenge, orchids make beautiful décor. For those who like to cook, herbs might be useful. For those who have a bad memory and will most likely forget to water regularly, Christmas cacti, which bloom around the holiday season, make the perfect gift.
An Ugly Christmas Sweater
Giving friends and family sweaters will help them to stay not only festive but warm as well, reducing the need to turn up the heater. Throwing in a cozy pair of socks (from PACT, a brand that practices fair trade) wouldn’t hurt either!
Glue together some twigs that have fallen in the backyard to make a nature-y picture frame. Then glue three edges of a cardboard square to create the backing of the frame. Photos can be inserted through the edge that is not glued. Or you can give an existing frame an outdoorsy feel by gluing the twigs directly on it. (Less work then, too!)