You’re interested in reducing your impact on the environment – I can tell, because you’re here! At Writing From Nowhere, looking for sustainable gift ideas. Welcome, friend.
But I reckon that not everyone in your life shares our interest in reducing their landfill contribution. A bidet and composter may not be the home-run gift for your sibling that it would be for you.
That’s exactly why I created this sustainable gift ideas list. Useful gifts will always be appreciated, and it can be our little secret that these all reduce waste without the recipient even having to put in any effort.
Pause now to save so you can find this later!
This is the third annual sustainable gift ideas list. If you’re still hankering for some more ideas, check out the 2019 and 2018 gift guides too!
- 2019 gift guide: Unique Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas This Year
- 2018 gift guide: Gifts For The Eco-Friendly People In Your Life
1. Secondhand Gifts
I would be remiss to offer these sustainable gift ideas without mentioning the elephant in the room: the lowest-waste gifts you can buy are not from the links in this list. Not buying new items is the most sustainable choice you can make.
I encourage you to start your shopping early so that you can look secondhand for your gifts. Remember the Buyerachy of Needs by Sarah Lazarovic:
Secondhand shopping may sound like a lot more work, but there are a few low-hanging fruits:
- Sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Secondhand shopping doesn’t automatically mean digging through bins in a Goodwill.
- This is a great opportunity to contribute to someone’s hobby or collectibles (what eBay really thrives at)
- A really easy shopping idea here is buying books – there are entire websites dedicated to used books such as Abe Books, Half Priced Books, etc.
Perfect for: the collector, book worm or otherwise hobby-focused person in your life.
A very popular item from last year’s sustainable gift ideas last was the Stojo reusable coffee cup. I still stand by the Stojo as a 10/10 gift – it’s cute, convenient, good quality and fills an obvious need for any coffee drinker (I’ll drop it in below in case you want to check it out).
I take my Stojo literally everywhere with me in my messenger bag (which I often get questions about: I have this one in xs in the color ‘scout‘).
But another noteworthy travel coffee mug is just a good ole fashioned thermos.
The humble thermos has a few benefits over a modern coffee vessel like the Stojo:
- A thermos keeps coffee hot for h o u r s
- It’s completely leak-proof: just throw it in your bag and pull it out when you’re ready for a mid-morning boost
- A thermos helps save you money, if you really think about it: a to-go cup is most likely utilized when buying a coffee out, but a thermos is more of a make-and-home sidekick
Perfect for: the person in your life who could probably out-brew the neighborhood barista.
3. Bottle Saver: Bottle Bright
Speaking of coffee – ya know that to-go mug that’s sitting in the back of your cabinet, all discolored and uncleanable from coffee? Yeah, same.
I think all coffee lovers have at least one thermos of shame, all funky and discolored, that makes them think “this is what my insides probably look like too.”
I thought my Stanley Thermos was a goner – even a special bottle brush couldn’t scratch the years of build-up. It had a slight smell and felt gross to use. But, no more.
Plus, in addition to cleaning thermoses, Bottle Bright can also tackle hydration packs and bottles! It’s a great end-of-season habit to clean and thoroughly dry your hydration pack. This is will prevent mold and extend the life of your stuff.
Bonus: This also means that you can shine up any secondhand beverage containers you stumble across in your thrifting.
These come packaged in plastic, but given the handoff of sending some packaging to landfill instead of sending an entire thermos, bottle or hydration pack, I’ll choose Bottle Bright.
Perfect for: that person in your life who never leaves the house without coffee.
4. Knife sharpening whetstone
Say goodbye to bludgeoned tomatoes and the internal scream of “how old IS this thing!”
…and hello to your favorite knife lasting f o r e v e r.
Cooking often dulls knives quickly. I can’t speak for all knives everywhere, but
I’m an avid cook my husband is an avid cook and our knives need resharpening every few months.
In addition to this being the gift of maintaining a piece of daily-used kitchen equipment, it’s also the gift of eased frustrations. Nothing gets the blood boiling like a knife that fumbles around instead of slicing and dicing. The kitchen doesn’t need any more heat, yaknowwhatI’msayin.
There are actually several avenues to take if you want to sharpen your knives, but a whetstone is cool because it can regrind a dull or even a slightly damaged blade. Hallo, thrift stores knives and never being disappointed by your tomato slicing again!
If you’re new to knife sharpening, I assure you it’s not intimidating at all. I even made a video showing how quick and simple it is.
Also P.S. if you use YouTube, please feel free to subscribe! I’m not hip with the YouTube crowd. Send help.
Perfect for: the foodie or the person in your life who loves to cook.
5. Convertible Shopping Bag
If you find yourself thinking, doesn’t Kayla have a reusable shopping bag on the sustainable gift ideas list every year? You’re right – but NOT because you need to throw yours out and get a new one.
Because some people are still disposable plastic bag users.
And other people have reusable bags, somewhere (??), but never remember to use them.
Once you find the bag that suits your needs, you will remember it and finally kick the plastic bag habit. So, without further ado, I present the handiest bag I’ve ever found.
The Notabag is a shoulder shopping bag that can also be worn as a backpack. This is prime for cyclists, people with kiddos in their arms, etc.
You can feel even better about this purchase knowing that the company also donates 2.5% of profits from every order to reducing ocean pollution.
Perfect for: the friend who’s always multitasking.
6. Blue Apples
A favorite from last year’s gift guide were Blue Apples,
Blue Apples are hollow, plastic apples that hang out in your refrigerator and passively extend the life of your fruits and veggies.
The apples are filled with packets that absorb ethylene, the gas that veggies and fruits release that speeds up the decomposition process.
By absorbing the ethylene, the Blue Apples slows the decomposition process. The company says that Blue Apples makes your produce last 2-3 times as long.
Perfect for: the person in your life who loves a good farmers market (translation: fridge full of fresh goods).
7. Sprout Pencils
These pencils are made with sustainably sourced wood. Once you’ve used all of the graphite, there are seeds waiting for you at the end! You plant the “eraser” part of the pencil and wait for your tomato, basil or sunflowers to sprout.
Perfect for: sprouting (hehe) some interest in the environment in the kids in your life.
8. Refillable Pen
Now that we’ve removed the waste from your pencilin’ it’s time to tackle your pens.
Every disposable pen you’ve ever used still exists. It’s mind-blowing. And the solution is simple: refillable pens!
As if the waste-reduction excitement isn’t enough, just look at this thing! Fire emoji. This is the George Clooney of pens. Handsome, sleek, feels good in your hand (okay, yes, I heard how gross that sounds).
It’s just a darn good pen.
Perfect for: the person in your life who loves to journal, write in a physical planner or send letters (bless their heart).
9. Waste-Free Stapler
Now, avoiding paper and going digital is indeed a more sustainable choice than printing papers. But – if you are in a position where you must print and staple papers together, then we’ve gotta make some lemonade.
Did you know that you don’t NEED staples, paper clips or anything at all to connect papers together? You just need a different tool.
Also, if there are any parents reading this, let me just say: your child can’t impale their thumbs with this sustainable gift idea, unlike a traditional stapler.
Perfect for: the teacher, social work or parent in your life.
10. The EcoEgg
Making the sustainable gift ideas list for the 3rd year in a row is The EcoEgg (*cymbal crash*).
The EcoEgg is hands-down the low-waste lifestyle change that I recommend the most. I wrote a deep-dive review that you’re welcome to check out here.
The EcoEgg is a laundry product that lasts for years. The ‘egg’ is hollow like an Easter egg, and filled with mineral pellets. You throw the entire thing in the washing machine the water dissolves the necessary amount of soap, and your clothes are cleaned accordingly.
I really recommend that you also use vinegar with the EcoEgg. It really rounds this product out, making it the perfect low-waste laundry detergent. Just throw vinegar in the softener area of your machine.
Perfect for: everyone who does laundry.
Glue might not jump out at you as a super fun gift, but this glue is special. Sugru has made my annual sustainable gift ideas list two years in a row because of how much it can do.
You may be asking yourself how glue fits into a sustainable gift ideas list. Well, Sugru says it best themselves: “Repairing and adapting your stuff is a sustainable choice.”
If you double the life of all your stuff, you halve the amount that goes to landfill.
Sugru can bond things together, create a seal, plug a hole. Improve existing designs, or create something new altogether (they have some super creative examples on their website).
Perfect for: the person in your life who never wants to throw things away, no matter how old or busted they may be.
Not unlike the shopping bag, deodorant is showing up on this sustainable gift ideas list in another form this year. Last year I recommended the Thai deodorant stone and I got a lot of feedback from you guys who tried it. Some of you loved it, some of you through it wasn’t quite your jam.
After using that deo for 3 years, I decided to try something new. This decision came after I dropped my deo stone and it shattered….. for the 3rd time. After 3 murdered stones, I decided to try something new.
Here’s another option, and one that I actually think works better: Nuud. It’s not tested on animals, vegan and comes in a compostable tube. And you can’t break it!
Besides all of the obvious ethical benefits, I think the real stand-out crown jewel of Nuud is that it’s effective for several days after use.
Perfect for: the friend that you’re pretty sure doesn’t shower every day (what?? gross. jk same) (3 shows a week works fiiiine)
13. Pocket-Sized Stasher
Stasher bags are another repeat sustainable gift idea, but this year I have another size for you – a pocket-size Stasher.
Previously I’ve featured the sandwich-sized Stasher bag, which is a classic for a reason. But the pocket size offers a whole new level of handiness, particularly for traveling.
This is especially handy for traveling or being on the go. You can easily stash your vitamins, menstrual cup, essential oils, snacks, etc.
Perfect for: the person who is always on the go.
14. Bamboo Bathroom Rounds
These rounds can replace disposable cotton rounds from your bathroom routine. On top of being useful and saving money, they’re also really beautifully made.
Perfect for: the makeup lover in your life. Less money spent on disposable cotton rounds means more money for eyeshadow pallets.
15. “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo
The term “life changing” is spot on here. I’ve often quoted this book as one that changed my life, and millions and millions of others.
I mean, a world-wide trend can’t be wrong, right?
Perfect for: the friend in your life who always seems to buy 7 new pairs of underwear on a whim, confess “I’m so bad” and then do it again on the next mall trip.
16. Rechargeable Batteries
Is it just me, or does this gift scream “dad?” Something practical that they’ll use and will ake their lives easier.
Give the gift of never running out of batteries ever again! Easily charged via USB, these rechargeable batteries are the last batteries you’ll ever buy. In addition to reducing packaging, transport and disposal of batteries, you’re also sparing the landfill some corrosive chemicals by never throwing a battery away again.
Perfect for: the pragmatic person in your life.
17. Oxygen Brightener For Your Clothes
Why derail this practical train? Let’s keep chugging down the tracks from the junk drawer (is that where your batteries live too) to the laundry room.
In their own words, Nellie’s oxygen brightener helps “restore the color of your clothes.” This was a runaway favorite item from my blog post on how to make your clothes last longer (you can read it here).
Perfect for: the always-fashionable person in your life. Help them keep their favorite clothes alive, and they may just take you shopping with them.
18. Collapsible Bicycle
A collapsible bike is a fun sustainable gift idea for several reasons – it’s like 3 gifts in one.
A bike is a budgeting tool. Cycling instead of driving your car reduces gas costs, and all of the wear-and-tear expenses on your vehicle (tire replacements, oil changes, you know the inspection list).
A collapsible bike is extremely convenient. Pack up your bike and take it with you on the train, in the trunk of your car for weekend outings, anywhere!
More movement has a slew of benefits. If you bike even just one day a week, you could forgo workout classes and get your exercise in on the road.
Perfect for: the person in your life who can never seem to fit in their workout into their busy schedule.
19. Reusable Q-Tips
Some of these sustainable gift ideas are old-school and simple. This one, however, is a new wrinkle (as my grandfather would say).
A reusable Q-tip! Yes, welcome to the future my friend.
Instead of buying, storing and landfill-ing a giant bag of disposable Q-tips, this little silicone swab has versatile ends and is handy for cleaning, make-up and first aid.
Just wash it clean with water and soap, and then store it in its convenient carrying case.
Also, on a very practical note, this reusable Q-tip saves some space in your bathroom cabinet.
Perfect for: the friend in your life who has a super tiny bathroom.
20. Lint & Fur Rollers
Shedding pets are annoying. I mean, maybe Fluffers F. Flufferson III (of the New Hampshire Fluffersons) isn’t annoying himself, but, come on. No one likes fur all over their stuff.
Fur becomes a lot less annoying when you have the right tools for the job. This fur and lint remover
And it’s way better than that typical sticky-paper lint roller that we’ve all used before. They’re a lot like disposable paper towels: yes, it technically does the job, but after consuming half a roll in the process.
Perfect for: the person in your life who *always* has fur on them (you know who you are).
21. Hemp Coffee Filter
This cool little coffee filter has a huge impact. It’s estimated that the world’s coffee consumption costs about 1.5 million trees per year, JUST to manufacture the coffee filters. (source)
This organic hemp coffee filter will be the last filter you ever need to buy. It’s the fit of avoiding that dreadful feeling of ‘wait, don’t tell me we’re out of coffee filters! Not today Satan!’
Now, I can’t keep you from running out of coffee beans too, but this is one piece of the equation handled.
Perfect for: the person in your life who likes their coffee simply and wholesome.
After secondhand gifts, another great sustainable gift idea is digital gifts.
And, what better gift than the gift of exploring any hobby or interest you have?
Skillshare is a platform where experts teach classes in their field. They’re all video-based, and there are thousands of topics to choose from. Just to throw a few class titles out there..
- Real Productivity: Create Your Ideal Week
- Modern Money Habits: 5 Steps to Build the Life You Want
- Designing The Life You Want: 4 Exercises for Clarity and Motivation
Take my money now!
What an amazing way to kick off the new year.
Perfect for: the ever-passionate creative in your life.
23. Door Draft Stopper
What better message could a gift send than ‘I care about you being comfortable?’
That’s exactly what a door draft stopper says. It insulates doors and windowsills, making indoor spaces more comfortable and your home more energy-efficient.
Simply lay it along the seam of a door or window to stabilize temperatures, and it even adds a layer of soundproofing. This is particularly convenient for older homes, which may not be as well insulated as newer structures.
Perfect for: the person in your life who’s always cold (hi, mom!).
24. Plant Babies
Happiness spreads when multiplied. So do plants.
Propagate your plants by taking a cutting and regrowing it into a whole new plant.
Bonus points for using an upcycled jar and no packgaing!
Perfect for: the plant goddess in your life. What’s one more plant when you already have 74 in your studio apartment?
Sustainable Gift Guide Conclusion
Which of these sustainable gift ideas is your favorite? I hope that you’re able to give some special gifts this year, while also sneaking in some waste reduction.
Maybe you even found some sustainable gift ideas for your own wish list – I know batteries are on my list this year #dadgifts.