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6 Sustainable Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Published:
January 9, 2024
November 20, 2023
Check out these suggestions for six sustainable gifts that can help protect the earth and make your loved ones happy.

‘Tis the season to buy — or is it? With the holidays approaching, purchasing gifts for our friends and family has become somewhat of a professional sport. From Black Friday sales to pressure-filled deals, it’s no wonder the season for giving has taken on a new, consumeristic  meaning. Yet, when the holidays are over, it’s almost ironic that we become obsessed with cleaning out our closets and ridding our homes of “stuff.” This buying and purging mentality becomes a cycle that just leads to waste — both environmentally and personally. 

But where does that leave us when it comes to actually buying gifts during the holiday season? Two things can be true, and for most of us, we are caught between the need to give and the desire to give well. That’s where the idea of a sustainable gift comes onto the holiday scene. Items that are eco-friendly and human-friendly feel good to give and receive, a win for all those on Santa’s nice list. Come and shop with us as we navigate the sustainable market for great gift ideas for everyone on your holiday list.

What does it mean to buy sustainable? 

Sustainability is a buzzword that has circulated across various social platforms and company campaigns. But, what does it really mean to be sustainable? According to Redress Raleigh, sustainable items are created and marketed in a responsible and conscious way focusing on the impact a product has on our environment and society. For companies that create eco-friendly products, such as clothing, it is important that they discern the origin of their fibers and dyes, providing less exposure to harmful chemicals. Being ethical is another component of a sustainable business, meaning that the items they create must be designed with human and animal rights at the forefront of the manufacturing process.

While this information may be a lot to take in when it comes to choosing the right products and clothing items, there are some key phrases that can help in the discerning process. Look for labels like green and clean, fair and ethical, rented, loaned, swapped, secondhand, vintage, and on-demand or custom-made to help you understand where the product is coming from and how it’s produced. 

Sustainable Gifts for All

Baggu: Reusable Tote

Everyone loves a practical (and reusable) gift. And a Baggu tote is just the item to purchase for the shoppers in your life. These canvas, leather, and nylon bags are created with playful designs that can transition from the grocery store to a night out with friends. Reusable bags are great for the environment, cutting down on waste and plastic bags, meaning this gift item is eco-friendly and stylish— a true win for all. Paired with a Whole Foods gift card or your favorite fig jam, this gift is a simple, yet useful item to give. 

Cost: $ | Baggu.com

Ilia Beauty: Super Serum Skin Tint

For the beauty and skincare guru on your nice list this year, Ilia is a company that does two things really well: skincare and sustainability. Donating 1% of their serum sales to environmental causes, while also using packaging with recycled aluminum, glass, and responsibly sourced paper, Ilia creates makeup that is good for your skin and good for the environment. And as a fan of their Super Serum Skin Tint, I can attest that Ilia’s makeup is a multitasking wonder, combining niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, squalene, and SPF all in one incredible product. Not sure where to begin when it comes to choosing the right makeup formula? Ilia offers gift cards that always come in the right shade. 

Cost: $ | Iliabeauty.com 

Quince: Mongolian Cashmere Sweater

Searching for a special gift? Look no further than Quince, a company with a mission to provide quality clothes at an affordable price. Using premium materials, environmentally conscious packaging, and ethical practices, Quince embodies sustainability with their factory-direct model. One of their best selling items is the $50 Mongolian cashmere sweater, which makes for a beautiful gift — soft, colorful, and affordable. Quince also offers Italian leather goods, home products like sheets and duvet covers, and even sweaters for kids too. Whether you are buying for your best friend, sibling, parent, or significant other, Quince has something for everyone on your list. 

Cost: $$ | Quince.com

Cuyana: Leather travel case

Cuyana is a women-built company that embraces the idea that fewer is better when it comes to fashion. Not only do they produce responsibly, but Cuyana sells through 90% of the products they make in order to prevent overproduction. Intentional design is at their core, where the goal is to create timeless products that remain in your closet consistently year after year. Cuyana’s incredible leather totes, wallets, and travel bags are made with the utmost consideration for classic design and longevity. Follow Cuyana’s lead this holiday season: buy fewer and better. 

Cost: $$-$$$ | Cuyana.com 

Digital Subscription 

For that hard-to-shop for person on your list, a digital subscription is a fun, sustainable and eco-friendly purchase. And with so many options to choose from, finding a subscription that matches your recipient’s interests is a great way to celebrate his or her hobbies and reading obsessions. Newspapers and magazines like The New York Times, and the Atlantic, or even Audible have monthly or yearly subscriptions that can be read daily, while online content from Bon Appetit or Master Class offers ways to enhance a skill from the comfort of your home. Whether it’s a love for reading or an interest in crafting, digital subscriptions personally cultivate growth and that’s always a great gift to give.

Cost: $-$$ | New York Times, The Atlantic, Audible, Bon Appetit, Master Class

Closet Regift or Thrifted Item

Recycling a gift doesn’t have to be a faux-pas. In fact, growing up, my brother was ahead of his time when he would regift presents to our family from our own basement. Using brown lunch bags as his wrapping paper (which seemed questionable at the time), my brother found a way to sustainably regift during his high school years. And, yes, my family laughed about his frugality, but the idea always stuck with me as something that could work if presented correctly. As second-hand stores and vintage shopping become increasingly popular, the idea of a regift seems like a chic thing to do, especially in a world filled with fast fashion. So, maybe it’s a sweater that has been worn twice and you know your friend would really love it, or it's a picture frame you could repurpose with a family photo, regifting is the art of turning one person’s recyclables into another person’s treasures.

Cost: $

When it comes to gift giving this season, finding items that are sustainably sourced or environmentally friendly is easier than ever due to the growing number of companies that are choosing to create, design, and sell better. More than a movement, being sustainable is a lifestyle, a conscious decision that emphasizes our need as a society to want more from the products we consume on a daily basis — and that includes gift giving as well!

***

Cost Key: 
$: Under $50
$$: Under $100
$$$: Under $200

Creators:
Lauren Lawson
Published:
January 9, 2024
November 20, 2023
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