10 Creative Eco-friendly Gift Ideas

Bob Farnham | December 9, 2015 | Seasonality

Giving gifts is an exciting part of the holiday season. It can also be stressful crossing everything off your list – buying the hottest gift of the season, spending time in purchase and return lines, and spending more money than we’d like. This year, let’s bring a different perspective to gift-giving – eco-friendly gifts! Locally-made, handmade, and memorable, these gifts are full of love from the giver to the recipient AND Mother Earth! Here are some of our favorite sustainable holiday gift ideas:

  1. Locally-made gifts. Many communities host holiday artisan fairs – an excellent place to search for local goodies to give to loved ones this season. Besides being made with love and care, locally-made gifts cut down on the impact of greenhouse emissions related to transportation of goods.
  2. Battery-free gifts. According to the EPA, roughly 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard – even rechargeable batteries end up in landfills. Here are some great battery-free gift ideas.
  3. Recycled gifts. Purchasing or making gifts from recycled materials is an excellent way to raise awareness of how resources can be used and reused. You will be doing a great service for the planet, and casting your vote with your money! Here are some examples to check out.
  4. Solar–powered gifts. You might be surprised to learn just how many solar-powered gifts and gadgets are available. Watches, clocks, garden décor, water fountains, cell phone chargers, tech gadgets, and so much more. Even Christmas tree lights can be solar-powered and used indoors and outdoors! Here are some other creative solar-powered gift ideas we think you will enjoy!
  5. Gift-wrapping alternatives. To minimize gift wrapping waste, try wrapping a gift in a gift. Scarves, tea towels, pajamas, and tins can all double as both a gift and gift wrap. You can also have a wrap-decorating party with the kids and have them paint or decorate gift boxes and baskets. Find reusable ones at a thrift store, or create your own from cereal or tissue boxes.
  6. Homemade gift ideas. Spend a few snow days to make your own gifts! Bath salts, cookies, candies, candles, greeting cards, knitted scarves and hats, or artwork are gifts that people can use or treasure for years! Easy.com has an excellent guide for making eco-friendly gifts.
  7. Recipe Exchange. This would be a great alternative for a group of friends, sisters, or a ladies’ group that normally trade gifts. Each person receives a small recipe box that they continue to use each year. Every Christmas, each person shares their favorite recipe with everyone else to add to the recipe boxes. You help create and maintain traditions, and you pass on delicious recipes that can be enjoyed for generations! You could even make it a new tradition that each year, everyone in the group cooks one of the recipes from previous years so that when you get together, you can share memories of past holidays. If you want to be even more creative, host a recipe exchange party!
  8. The gift of time. Give coupons redeemable for garden work, snow shoveling, cleaning, cooking, or anything that would help someone who may have less time or energy to do so themselves. You could also plant flowers, trees, or plants for someone – a gift that gives for generations! Here are some fun coupon ideas to get you started.
  9. Photo album. For all the photos that don’t make it onto Facebook, print them, and put them in a special album of your best memories with someone. Here are some other really creative photo-themed gifts you can make or give this season.
  10. Experiential gift. Gifts that give people experiences are often the best gifts because they enhance our lives in ways that “things” simply cannot. Plus, with new experiences come fun stories or new skills – beautiful things to give a person! Give a membership to a place someone would frequently visit. You can also pay tuition for a class or a ticket to the museum.

For more creative eco-friendly gift ideas, search for “Sustainable Holidays” and “Homemade Holidays” on Pinterest, or visit our Pinterest page on solar powered gifts.

We would love to hear what other eco-friendly holiday gift ideas you have given or received. Comment below and we will share our favorites!

Featured image by Nanette Turner/Flickr


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