photo of two brown wrapped gifts on wooden table

Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Gift Ideas for Everyone 2023

Many people spend weeks thinking of the perfect gift to give someone, especially around the holiday season. While we are well-intentioned, there are some unintended consequences of not thinking about the impact of our gifts, and I’m guilty of it, too.  In this post, we’ll be providing you with a few ideas for more sustainable gift ideas for everyone, especially the environmentalist!

The choices we make this holiday season can significantly impact our environment. That’s why we think the practice of gift-giving becomes an opportunity for positive change. This list of sustainable gift ideas aims to shed light on the significance of choosing purposeful gifts and how they can contribute to a more sustainable holiday.

The Impact of Traditional Gifts on the Environment

Many holidays and celebrations are often driven by consumerism. Understanding the essence of these sustainable gift ideas sets the stage for conscious and meaningful choices. Choosing gifts that align with eco-friendly principles reflects thoughtfulness and leaves a lasting positive impact on the environment.

Traditional gift items often come with a hidden cost – their carbon footprint. The manufacturing and transportation processes contribute to increased carbon emissions, contributing to climate change. Not to mention the material and resources that go into making each product. The aftermath of many traditions creates a surge in waste, much of which ends up in landfills. Broken decorations, plastic packaging, and unrecyclable gift packaging add to the mounting environmental challenges.


The Best Sustainable Gift Ideas for Various Recipients

Choosing sustainable gifts for family, friends, neighbors, or even colleagues shows love and care and can foster a culture of environmental consciousness. If you’re looking for ideas for sustainable stocking stuffers, check out our article here

Inspire positive change with these eco-friendly, sustainable gift ideas.


Sustainable Gift Ideas for The Gardener 

girl in overall and hat watering garden - gifts for an environmentalist
Photo by RDNE Stock project on

No matter how old your gardener, here’s a few sustainable gift ideas. These gift ideas focus on preserving the foods, harvesting the foods, and seeds to keep the food going. A compost machine is my favorite gift I’ve received because it helps me reduce my food waste all year long, while a vegetable dehydrator can preserve your food for months to come.

  • Harvesting basket
    A harvesting basket is something you can find at a thrift store or farmers market, but it will allow you to carry herbs and vegetables from the garden to the house in one trip.
  • Pepper Seeds or Vegetable Seeds
    Seeds can be used for years to come. Take a look at the seeds on our Etsy store!
  • Compost machine or accessories
    A compost machine is a great way to reduce food waste without needing a yard. I’ve had a Vitamix Food Cycler (linked above) for a few years now and its a great way to help us reduce our food waste and feed our garden!
  • Dehydrator for herbs in the winter
    Help preserve the fruits of their labor with a dehydrator that can be used to preserve herbs and flowers for teas and spices.

Sustainable Gift Ideas for The Home Chef

cheerful women cooking together in kitchen. Sustainable gift ideas for a cast iron pan
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Criteria for sustainable gift ideas for the home chef include high quality materials that will get used often, and last. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Silicone baking liners and trays
    Silicone baking liners and trays are a great way to cook healthy, and silicone baking sheets help reduce waste needed for foil and parchment paper.
  • Cast iron pan
    The most versatile pan in anyone’s kitchen, a cast iron pan can be used for so many different dishes. From baked goods to mac and cheese, to pancakes, the use of your cast iron pan the uses are endless. With a little proper care, a cast iron pan will serve your loved one for years to come.
  • Cutting board made of Reclaimed wood
    A cutting board is a universal kitchen tool, so why not make it a sustainable option. This makes the perfect gift for an environmentalist and the home chef.

Unique or interesting ingredients make great stocking stuffers. Make sure you take look at sustainable brands to support page to find some cool ingredients!


Sustainable Gift Ideas for The Person who Loves Tech

hands on gray bag with cable charger

Looking at a new gadget? Try refurbished or pre-owned. Amazon has a great program for buying second-hand items that may have been opened and returned. You can also try Best Buy open box, or gently used from your local community. Both of these items are usually discounted too!

Some other great gift ideas for the tech lover including eco-friendly material to store their electronics. You can look at material made from hemp or cotton bags to hold various cords, blocks, and chargers.


Sustainable Gift Ideas for The Person Who Loves Fashion

person wearing white adidas low top shoe near gray cyclone fence

Many clothing brands now are looking to be more environmentally conscious. Fashion and fast fashion in particular is typically resource intensive and has human rights issues associated with it. Choosing sustainable clothing means looking for items of higher quality that will withstand repeat wears.

Then are many great brands to support, including The Days – Apparel Company. If your fashion lover is more into streetwear, Adidas also has begun making products with 100% recycled ocean plastics.


Gift an Experience

selective focus photography of woman holding dslr camera
Photo by Andre Furtado on

Consider gifting experiences rather than physical items to create lasting memories without contributing to material waste. A great sustainable gift idea is to gift an experience. You can find really nice ways to give the gift and make it exciting. One way to do this is by printing out the gift, putting it in an envelope, and then gifting it with something small like a bottle of wine, chocolates, coffee, tea, or their favorite snack. Here’s a few gift ideas that your environmentalist will love

A Trip to the Thrift Store 

A great sustainable gift idea for an environmentalist in your list is a trip to the thrift store! This can be a fun experience for the both of you, and you can find some unique pieces to add to your closet or your home.

Photoshoot of custom photos

Support a talented local photographer and get some wonderful pictures that you can treasure for years to come.

Gifts for a Single Experience

  • Tickets to a concert
  • Tickets to a Sporting Game
  • Massage or spa
  • Cameo from their favorite celebrity

Gifts That Keep on Giving

  • Museum Pass 
    Check out your local museums or make a day in your city to go to a local museum to check out new exhibits or old favorites
  • National Parks Pass
    A National Parks Pass is a perfect gift for an environmentalist because it allows them to spend time in nature across different landscapes
  • Music or Dance lessons
  • Art Classes

Sustainable Gift Ideas for Kids

girl in white long sleeve shirt sitting on floor opening a gift
Photo by cottonbro studio on

Don’t be afraid to check out your local buy nothing page or thrift store for gifts, especially for young kids. These can be great places to look for things like used books, games, or puzzles. All of these are great for winter activities to keep them busy! Try to look for toys that are plastic free if you can!

  • Used toys
  • Used books
  • Puzzles
  • Dancing games
  • Board games
  • Plastic free toys

Instead of a Gift, Consider Donations to Charitable Causes

man placing food labelled carboard boxes inside the trunk of a white van
Photo by RDNE Stock project on

Some people really aren’t looking for a gift, but if you still want to do something, consider a gift donations to charitable causes in the name of your recipient. Spread joy and contribute to meaningful initiatives. You can ask which organization your recipient likes the most, but if they can’t think of anything, a few of favorite environmentalist organizations that you can give gift donations to are:

  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Sierra Project
  • World Wildlife Foundation
  • Local food banks
lighted christmas tree
Photo by Brett Sayles on

Transitioning to More Sustainable Holiday Practices

Reducing your environmental footprint begins with understanding the emissions associated with our choices. Opting for sustainable and locally sourced materials and products can significantly lower our ecological impact. Learn more about sustainable holiday tips here.

Choosing Sustainable Materials

The shift towards sustainable living involves a conscious decision to choose materials that have a lower impact on the environment. From certified organic cotton to upcycled materials, the options are diverse and impactful.

Embracing Eco-Friendly Practices

Beyond materials, adopting eco-friendly practices such as reducing plastic usage and supporting local artisans becomes an integral part of a sustainable lifestyle. You can also buy second hand.

Supporting Small Businesses and Artisans

Supporting local artisans not only promotes unique and handmade products but also helps sustain local economies and craftsmanship traditions. Choosing gifts from small businesses fosters a sense of community and supports entrepreneurs who often prioritize sustainable and ethical practices.

Seek out Sustainable Brands

Opt for gifts from B Corp certified brands or other certifications like Fair Trade. Ensuring your purchases meet socially, ethically, and environmentally responsible standards. You can learn more about how to look for a sustainable brand in this article here.

Gifts with purpose extend beyond the joy of unwrapping; they embody a commitment to a more sustainable and mindful way of living. Finding gifts for an environmentalist can be especially difficult if you don’t know what you’re looking for. While we know that it’s difficult to start new habits midway through the season, we hope you at least consider some of these sustainable gift ideas as ways to celebrate the holiday more mindfully. Give gifts that symbolize a step towards a better world, one where the festive season, birthdays, and special occasions are marked not only by good times but also by the positive impact we make on Mother Earth. So, let’s wrap our gifts in recyclable packaging, choose items made from eco-friendly materials, and spread the joy of sustainable living. In doing so, we gift not just to our loved ones but to the planet – a present that lasts beyond the festive season, creating a legacy of positive change.

Note: This article is crafted for informational purposes and may contain affiliate links. The inclusion of affiliate links does not influence the content or suggestions provided.  When you make a purchase from an affiliate link, I may make a small commission on the purchase, which then supports the Made to Sustain blog. 

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