Holiday Gift Guide: Sustainable-ish Gifts

Hate to break it to you, but the earth is crumbling. How’s that for holiday spirit, babaaaay!

I’ll pick up the positivity here. I’ve been working on reducing the amount of waste I produce. It’s CRAZY how much we throw away. Lately, I’ve been trying to be a little more aware of the things I use and purchase on a daily basis. I’ve been replacing single-use products with ones that I can use for a while (washable makeup remover cloths vs. toss-away wipes), choosing biodegradable materials over plastic, and opting for zero-waste items if I can. I still have a long way to go and I don’t consider myself an expert at any of this, but I think it all starts with conscious decisions and simple switches.

Before you read through this list, I’ll say that I’ve been really really really really conflicted writing this, because one big way to live more sustainably is by not purchasing much brand new at all, right? However, I think the first step to being a more conscious consumer is taking baby steps, which could include shopping local instead of Amazon, supporting businesses with a mission, re-using gift wrapping, skipping fast fashion and big box stores, and opting for thrift stores, bulk/zero waste stores, and online marketplaces like thredUP (pssst…you can get 50% off your first order). As I put together this list, I aimed to gather gifts that might get you excited about sustainable shopping this season!

Pela Compostable Phone Case

Pela cases are 100% biodegradable and they have a ton of styles and colors for iPhones, Androids, AirPods cases, and even smart watch bands. I really like that their mission goes beyond the product, aiming to make an impact by partnering with other organizations committed to sustainability. Right now, you can buy one case and get another free, and they have free shipping for orders over $20.

Photo: @pelacase

Reusable Facial Rounds

I snagged some washable cotton rounds a while back and have used them almost every day since to remove my makeup, along with this super soft Bamboo Face Cloth. It’s a nice starter for anyone looking to make an easy change from single-use face wipes to something a bit more gentle on your face and the planet. Pair this gift with some cleansing grains and you’ve got yourself a full facial, girlfriend. The Zero Waste Store has a ton of great household supplies and starter kits. Bonus…they ship everything 100% plastic-free using re-used boxes and mailers. I’ll say that you can find a lot of household supplies at bulk/zero waste stores in your area, so make that your first stop!

Photo: Zero Waste Store

Skin Care

Okay, real talk for a sec. “Clean beauty” frustrates me sometimes. Just because it’s listed as “all natural” or has pretty green-colored packaging doesn’t mean it will work better for your skin, per se. Marketing surrounding the “clean beauty” movement is full of buzz words and not entirely backed by a lot of evidence. If it works for you, you go girl! Most products that work best for my dry, acne-prone skin need a little bit of artificial chemical help, but I have found a few plant-based items I enjoy from BLK + GRN, a marketplace of beauty products made by Black artisans. To be listed on BLK + GRN, products must also be sustainably-sourced and cruelty-free. Recent faves are Cucumber Aloe Micellar Water and this Clean Greens Face Mask.

Photo: BLK + GRN

Holiday Hand Soap

We all love yummy smelling soaps, lotions, body care, you name it. I’m set for life. BUT, if you go through these sorts of products as fast as I do, it may produce a lot of plastic waste. I didn’t know the average household goes through 25 plastic soap bottles per year, so it’s time to swap to glass bottles and fun holiday-scented soap tablets from Blueland. If you run low, no need to go pick up another bottle, just order a couple new soap tablets, dissolve in water, and you’re good to go. Scrub a dub, my love.

Photo: Blueland

The Growing Candle

Alright, I included this on last year’s gift guide, but I STILL think it’s a cute option for a sweet gift that keeps giving. These candles are 100% pure soy wax, scented with essential oils and phthalate-free fragrance. Ok but GET THIS. My favorite part…the label around the candle is embedded with wildflower seeds, so once your candle is all burnt out, reuse the container, plant the label and grow a tiny garden. HOW CUTE.

Photo: @thegrowingcandle

Washable Coffee Filters & Fair Trade Coffee

We all have a coffee lover in our lives. Maybe it’s you. You know how wasteful K-Cups are and if you use a coffee pot, you probably go through coffee filters like crazy. How about opting for a washable filter that will last you a year? This one from Khala & Company, based in Boulder, Colorado, is made of organic hemp and cotton and can easily be tossed into the washing machine. It comes in a set of two, so no need to buy paper coffee filters for a hot minute. Bundle this gift with some fair trade coffee or tea from BLK & Bold, a mid-west coffee company that supports at-risk youth. Look at you, all cool and caffeinated.

Photo: @maefoofoo for @blkandbold

Bamboo Utensils & Durable Storage Baggies

I think most of my waste comes from my kitchen. Sandwich bags, cling wrap, food packaging…it all ends up in my trash. If you’ve tried as much local takeout as I have during quarantine, you know plastic utensils and straws are always included. Convenient, but not awesome for the planet later on. 4ocean’s bamboo utensil set replaces an average of 1,300 single-use plastic utensils over its lifecycle. 4ocean also has a bunch of other alternatives for single-use products that are sustainably-sourced, washable and reusable, and every purchase funds the removal of at least one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines. Pair this gift with silicone storage baggies and ditch the little plastic ones from the grocery store. Looking for a more all-encompassing kitchen/grocery sort of idea? This Zero Waste Eco Box includes stainless straws, a water bottle, wooden utensils, woven produce bag, and more.

Photos: 4ocean, Eco Trade Company

Eco-Gift Pack

Clothing, hats, journals, stickers. You can find all of these at local shops or thrift stores, so check your neighborhood for these kinds of super cool, unique gift items! If you want an alternative, this gift pack gives back. At tentree, each item purchased will ensure 10 trees are planted. HOW BOUT THEM APPLES?! Every piece of apparel is made with sustainable materials and comes with a unique tag, each with it’s own tree code specific to your ten trees. Once you register your tree codes, you can track your trees and see where they will be planted. Kinda cool, right?

Photo: tentree

Do you have some sustainable-ish favorites you’ll be gifting this year? Let me know in the comments!

Happy holidays and love always,

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