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When it comes to the environment, there are some shocking facts and statistics:
- 560 million tons of waste has been dumped so far this year, including 7.8 million tons of plastic dumped in the oceans.
- By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
- Although the US accounts for just 5% of the world’s population, it uses 30% of the world’s resources and creates 30% of the world’s waste.
- There’s more carbon dioxide in the environment than ever before in the history of Earth.
- The average animal (vertebrate) population declined 60% in the fifty years since 1970.
- By August 22, 2020, we used up all of Earth’s resources for the calendar year. This is called Earth Overshoot Day.
- Two of every three extreme weather events in the past two decades can be attributed to climate change.
You’ve likely heard all this doom and gloom previously or else you wouldn’t have clicked on an article about eco-friendly gifts. Luckily, you aren’t alone. Individuals, companies, non-profit organizations and governments around the world are tackling the problems of climate change, pollution and deforestation. And, one of the best ways you can help is to invest in eco-friendly products for both yourself and for your friends and family. The most environmental practice possible is to use what you already have in new and inventive ways, but gifting is a great way to help others adopt eco-friendly practices and show them how fun green can be. You’re already going to buy gifts this year — why not make everything a little greener?
Below, we’ve rounded up the best eco-friendly gifts of 2021. There’s everything from jewelry to gardening supplies, so it should be easy to find the most ideal gift for your loved ones.
1. Bee Carefree Reusable Beeswax Food Wrap Set
As mentioned above, the best eco-friendly gifts replace something people use a lot of which is harming the environment. Two of the easiest things to replace are plastic wrap and plastic bags. But, a gift should also be beautiful in nature. That’s why we love the Bee Carefree Reusable Beeswax Food Wrap Set. This bundle comes with four gorgeous beeswax wraps to replace your friend’s Seran wrap habit. It also includes two beeswax bars to keep the wraps in great shape and a high-quality produce bag to boot. Useful and attractive, you might have to buy yourself one of these sets, too.
2. Sunshine Company Shop Natural Lip Balm
Eco-friendly gifts don’t need to cost a ton. The Sunshine Company Shop Natural Lip Balm proves this point. Not only is this lip balm crafted using only all-natural ingredients, including beeswax, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and essential oils, it is also presented in a completely compostable tube. The balm will keep your lips hydrated all day long thanks to the included oils. Plus, the tube is half an ounce, meaning you get three times more balm than in traditional chapsticks. This eco-friendly gift would make a great stocking stuffer or add on to another larger gift.
3. FreeMountainDesigns Wildflower Seed Bomb Gift Box
BEST FOR GARDENERS
You likely know and love bath bombs, but have you ever heard of a seed bomb? These heart-shaped natural products contain wildflower seeds. The recipient simply has to place them in loose soil and water for a few days before they’ll start to see beautiful flowers sprout. The flowers inside may include baby’s breath, bird’s foot trefoil, blanket flower, calendulas, columbine, coneflower and many more. And, by supporting the growth of wildflowers, you and your recipient are providing refuge to bees, birds and other wildlife which is essential to a healthy ecosystem.
4. WildCaseUK Bamboo Straw iPhone Case
BEST FOR TECHIES
So much of the electronics industry is harmful to the environment. In fact, the smartphone industry is forecasted to have the biggest carbon footprint of any branch of the tech industry by 2040. This is mostly due to emissions caused during production. While buying into the smartphone industry is nearly an inevitability, you can make sure that all the accessories you use for your smartphone give back to the environment. The WildCaseUK Bamboo Straw iPhone Case does just that. Most phone cases are 100% plastic, but this one is made from bamboo straw and PBAT plastic. Therefore, it’s completely compostable. This would make a great gift for teenage kids to go along with their new phone or for friends who could use a more eco-friendly phone case.
5. Bamboo Reusable Paper Towels
Okay, we’ll admit that paper towels aren’t the most environmentally damaging item in your home. But, does it really make sense to use a bit of paper to clean up a spill on the floor and then throw it away? Think about all the natural resources that went into producing that bit of paper for you to use it for just five seconds. Luckily, eco-friendly companies have begun to produce reusable paper towels. This version looks and feels like a normal paper towel but is made from 100% organic bamboo. The towels can all be washed and reused 80 to 100 times over. They’re absorbent and strong, so you won’t really notice any difference. Plus, whoever you give these paper towels to will save loads of money on buying disposable paper towels over several months.
6. Mario Alabi Reclaimed Inner Tube Wallet
In the past few years, there’s been a lot of press about how the fashion industry is damaging the environment. Fast fashion in particular creates tons of water waste and emissions. One way to help lessen the impact your clothes have on the world is to buy used. Another way is to buy accessories made from recycled items, like this Mario Alabi Reclaimed Inner Tube Wallet. It’s made from 100% recycled rubber sourced from spent inner tubes previously found on taxis in El Salvador. The bifold has space for cards and cash and boasts a slightly raised design on the front and back. This is a great gift choice for adult children, partners and other members of the family.
7. Zero Waste Cookbook
BEST FOR AMATEUR CHEFS
Think about the last time you made a completely homemade meal. How much food did you throw away in the process? There are always vegetable skins, fruit pits and meat scraps that end up in the trash. The Zero Waste Cookbook by Giovanna Torrico and Amelia Wasiliev draws on ancestral wisdom to teach the reader how to use those scraps rather than throw them away. The book includes recipes for creating lemon peel-infused vodka, sunflower seed bread and even vegetable stock made from corn husks. For any of your friends who like to spend time in the kitchen, this would make a natural eco-friendly gift.
8. Lotus Trolley Bags and Produce Bags Bundle
FOR THE ORGANIZED SHOPPER
Lotus Sustainables was created as a way to help shoppers stay organized and eliminate the need for single-use plastic bags. The average family uses over 1,500 plastic bags each year, but the Lotus Trolley Bags remove the need for plastic bags by acting as a grocery cart organizer and tote in one. The four trolley bags fit any shopping cart and make it easy for shoppers to organize their groceries as they browse the aisles. When it’s time to move the bags from the cart into the trunk, the tote-style bags can easily be closed and have a flat bottom for secure transportation. We also like that one bag has a built-in cooler lining and a second has pockets for items like eggs and wine bottles. Each trolley bag can hold over 50 pounds and the company also makes reusable produce bags that are easy to clean and can hold up to 25 pounds. We received a sample of the bundle and also like that the trolley bags provide added clearance in some carts, acting as a reminder to other shoppers to keep the space as we continue to social distance. Lotus Sustainables is a 1% for the Planet company, which means they donate a portion of all sales to an environmental charity.
9. Friendsheep Wool Dryer Balls
BEST CLEANING SWAP
Did you know dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners are damaging to the environment? Luckily, there is an eco-friendly alternative. Wool dryer balls are easy to add to every load of laundry. Plus, they prevent clothes from clumping together in the dryer and decrease the amount of time it takes clothes to dry. While this might not be the most glamorous of gifts to give, it will benefit the recipient by decreasing their electricity bills, giving them better laundry results and shrinking their carbon footprint. In addition, these Friendsheep Wool Dryer Balls are sure to put a smile on the recipient’s face thanks to their adorable penguin decals.
10. LeafLife Original Bamboo Tumbler
BEST FOR BUSY PROFESSIONALS
The LeafLife Original Bamboo Tumbler eliminates three environmental problems in one. First, it can be used as a water bottle, preventing the recipient from using multiple single-use plastic bottles. Second, it can be used to hold hot drinks made at home, meaning the recipient won’t need to use disposable coffee cups from their local cafe. And, finally, the tumbler comes with a built-in tea strainer for loose leaf teams, so that the user can say goodbye to using plastic tea bags. As an added benefit, this tumbler is gorgeous and minimalistic thanks to its bamboo exterior.
11. FinalStraw Collapsible Reusable Metal Straw with Case
When it comes to their impact on the environment, straws are the worst. There have been efforts by many states and corporations to help remove disposable straws, including Starbucks’ redesigned cup lids, but plastic straws are still everywhere, including our oceans. In America alone, more than 500 million plastic straws are thrown away every day. Many of those end up in the oceans, harming marine life. In fact, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish, by weight. That’s why reusable straws, like the FinalStraw Collapsible Reusable Metal Straw with Case, are a must-have product to keep in your pocket, backpack or purse. We received a sample of FinalStraw and like how easily it snaps together and can be used with both cold and hot beverages. Made from rust-proof stainless steel and featuring a soft, food-grade silicone tip, the FinalStraw will last a lifetime. Literally. It’s not just a catchy name. The straw is available in several colors and each kit comes with a telescoping cleaning brush for added convenience. FinalStraw also makes an oversized, reusable plastic BiggieStraw that’s perfect for a smoothie and Boba tea.
12. Living Composter
Gorgeous and functional, the Living Composter is a must-have on our list. This countertop kitchen addition allows users to turn food scraps into fertilizer without the stink of traditional composters. The design is optimal for both the worms inside and for human interaction, allowing it to boldly stay indoors. It includes everything you need to create compost except for the worms and the sawdust soil mix. Once properly assembled, the system can compost up to two pounds of food scraps each week, and one tablespoon of the resulting fertilizer is enough to feed a six-inch plant for up to two months. This is certainly one functional gift no one will be disappointed to receive.
13. Hello Antiplaque + Whitening Toothpaste Tablets
BEST GROOMING ITEM
There are plenty of eco-friendly grooming items out there that mostly reduce plastic use and provide refillable alternatives, like these toothpaste tablets from Hello. They come in a reusable metal container rather than a plastic tube that’s plastic-free and TSA-friendly. The tablets are made with coconut oil, tea tree oil and real peppermint for the minty taste you’re used to with regular toothpaste. The tablets are designed to freshen breath, remove plaque, remove surface stains and crush tartar. If you’ve got someone looking to go hard in the paint with the eco stuff, these toothpaste tablets take a second to get used to but are way better for the planet in the long run.
14. MATE the Label Organic Thermal Pants
BEST CLOTHING BRAND
MATE the Label is a clothing brand dedicated to high-quality, environmentally-friendly clothing items made of 100% organic cotton that are soft and will last longer, cutting down on the demand for fast fashion, disposable pieces. They’ve got a higher price point, but won’t rip or develop holes after the first six months and require replacement. These drawstring pants are perfect loungewear, WFH attire or travel pants for your next road trip. Gift them to your coziest friend who also happens to love this beautiful planet of ours.
15. Rothy’s Shoes
Another great eco-friendly brand is Rothy’s — which makes all of their shoes out of recycled water bottles and creates footwear that’s machine-washable so you don’t have to dump them if someone decides to lose control of their red wine. They’re knit to shape for maximum comfort and minimum waste and boast not having a break-in period — they’re ready to wear out of the box.
16. Stasher 100% Silicone Reusable Storage Bags
BEST FOOD STORAGE OPTION
Ziplock bags have got to go — there are many other ways to store food and these bags from Stasher are machine-washable and great for keeping snacks fresh, produce frozen or fruit from rotting away. They’re made of 100% pure, non-toxic silicone and have a pinch-lock seal that’s way easier to use than your average disposable plastic bag. They can be used in the freezer, dishwasher, microwave and even submerged in boiling water. They’re a tad more expensive than your average disposable baggie, but over time the savings pile up when you don’t have to keep buying more packs of the throw-away kind.
17. Funny Food Plastic-Free Produce Bags
BEST FOR GROCERY SHOPPING
Another way to cut down on your plastic usage? These reusable produce storage bags. Come on — they’re adorable and super great for sorting your produce at the market or at home, and keeping your food fresher for longer. It’s economical and environmental at the same time, plus the bags have tare information on the front to make it easy for cashiers to subtract them from the weight of the produce. They’re made of unbleached cotton and are machine-washable, so keeping them fresh between grocery runs is easy. Gift these to your friend who loves a food in-season produce item or a trip to the farmer’s market. They’ll appreciate how their veggies stay fresher longer and smile at the cute designs.
18. Nomadix All-Activity Towels
BEST FOR THE ADVENTURER
A must-have for someone who loves venturing into the outdoors? A good towel. Whether it’s for lounging on the beach, cleaning up after a long day of hiking or drying off after a swim in a stream, these towels from Nomadix are just the ticket. Plus, they’re also made of recycled, post-consumer plastic water bottles and designed for any activity. They’re super absorbent, slip-resistant (making them great for hot yoga), odor-resistant, lightweight, compact and quick-drying. Dress up your friend’s gym bag with the trendiest new eco-friendly towel and grab one for yourself while you’re at it.
19. Ambrosia Vegetable Storage Bag
This beautiful vegetable storage bag is designed to keep vegetables hydrated and fresh in the fridge as long as possible. We received a sample of these to try out and were delighted to find that they work! Lettuce and broccoli stayed fresh longer in the fridge, and all it took was a sprinkle of water to increase their shelf life immensely. The bag is made of flax linen fibers that inhibit the release of ethylene gas that spoils veggies! Gift this to your farmer’s market-loving environmental friend or your friend who can’t seem to keep a tomato long enough to eat it.
20. Ravean Hand Warmer
FOR ANYONE WHO IS PERPETUALLY COLD
Hand warmers are a great way to quickly warm up your fingers during cold months, but they are typically disposable. The Ravean Hand Warmer is a reusable two-in-one product that keeps hands warm and small electronics charged. As someone whose hands seem to be perpetually cold (and whose phone is perpetually down to 5% battery), I was excited to receive one of the first Ravean units and enjoy its fast-acting, 8-hour warming power. The weather-resistant, cork-wrapped hand warmer has three settings and can get up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also charge small electronics up to 1.5 times faster than other chargers.
21. LastRound by Last Object
FOR SKINCARE ROUTINES
If you’re looking for a gift for the beauty enthusiast in your life, Last Object has a lineup that will turn any bathroom green. The company has created reusable tissues, ear swaps and cotton rounds, which can be used and reused to remove makeup, apply toner and much more. We received a sample of the cotton rounds and were impressed by their softness and durability. Each set of seven comes in a reusable, recyclable case. The rounds, which help to save the 20,000 liters of water it takes to create 1kg of cotton, can be used 1,750 times.
22. Petrol 100% Flax Linen Sheet Set by Bed Threads
FOR THE CONSCIOUS SLEEPER
Bed Threads has designed their company with two missions — make people comfortable while they sleep and do no harm to the environment. Their sheet set is made with flax linen. Flax uses fewer pesticides and water than other options. All Bed Thread products are Oekotek Certified and the company works with registered farmers in France to grow their flax. We also like that the company is 100 percent carbon neutral and their sheets, which are available in a wide variety of colors, are 100 percent comfortable to sleep in any time of year.
23. Ru Lunch Bag
FOR THE LUNCH PACKER
Packing your lunch is both a money and environment saver. Most takeout chains come with a lot of trash and a big bill, but staying on your lunch-packing track can be difficult when your bed is soooo comfortable in the morning. Stop hitting snooze and take the five minutes you need to pack your lunch. Want to get excited about your salad? Pack it in one of the fashionable lunch bags from Ru, which makes their products from 97% recycled polyester. Using fabric that is certified Repreve and Oeko-Tex S100, Ru bags are ethically and sustainably made, spill-resistant, machine washable, and cool enough that you won’t be embarrassed to be carrying a lunch bag post-fifth grade.
24. Keurig My K-Cup Universal Reusable K-Cup Pod
FOR COFFEE LOVERS
Keurig and other instant coffee makers have streamlined morning routines and made it possible to brew a delicious and rich cup of coffee with minimal effort and mess. Unfortunately, K-cup pods are making a big mess on the environment. Gift the coffee lover in your life the Keurig My K-Cup Universal Reusable K-Cup Pods and a bag of their favorite roast. The reusable pods make it easy to keep the flavor and convenience of their Keurig machine without the environmental footprint of disposable pods.
25. Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
FOR THE OUTDOOR LOVER
The fashion industry, especially fast fashion, is damaging to the environment. From using pesticides to grow fabric, excessive water use, to the devastating carbon footprint that comes from shipping products around the world, what we wear has a big impact on where we live. Patagonia has taken the environment into account with its line of durable and practical clothing that is built to last. Their Nano Puff Jacket not only blocks the wind, traps body heat, and easily packs into a small case that makes it ideal for travel, it’s also made using 75% recycled materials. Patagonia uses Bluesign approved fabric, which means their products are produced in a way that minimizes impact on the environment and puts the health of their workers at the forefront.
26. Biodegradable Eco-Friendly Natural Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrushes
FOR THE FREQUENT BRUSHER
Anytime there’s an opportunity to eliminate single-use plastic, we are all for it. Case in point, toothbrushes. A billion toothbrushes are thrown away each year, resulting in thousands of pounds of waste that is clogging up the ocean and beaches. Stop adding to the landfill and keep your pearly whites and your ocean water clean with a biodegradable bamboo brush from Isshah. The company sells their brushes in sets of four and each brush is numbered, making it easy for the whole family to get on the biodegradable board. The water-resistant bamboo won’t splinter and is more durable than plastic. Even the packaging is recyclable and biodegradable, making this a hygiene option worth smiling about.