Whether you’re shopping for Christmas gifts or birthday gifts, there are more cool sustainable gift ideas than ever before.
And no matter if your lucky gift recipient is a super environmental enthusiast or just interested in learning how to be more environmentally conscious, there’s a range of different eco-friendly gift ideas (that aren’t all made of hemp).
That’s great, because Americans throw away 25% more garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year’s compared to non-holiday time periods. And even though that may not sound like a significant amount, it equates to about a million extra tons of garbage each week.
Between the gifts themselves and all the gift-wrapping materials, there’s a huge opportunity for us to make smarter decisions around what kinds of gifts to give and take a more zero waste approach.
So, in this sustainable gift guide, we’ll look at a list of eco-friendly gift ideas for both him and her (we won’t separate them though, because we’re think they’re pretty cool no matter what gender you are). To make things easier for you, we’ve sorted the list by price so you can find a sustainable gift no matter what your budget is:
- $ – Budget-friendly eco gift ideas under $20
- $$ – Sustainable gift ideas between $21 to $50
- $$$ – Environmentally friendly gift ideas between $51 and $100
- $$$$ – Eco-friendly gifts above $100
So, let’s get into the best eco-friendly gifts for 2021:
- The perfect flashlight for outdoors lovers
- Sustainable—and cozy—beanies, scarves, blankets, and more
- Upcycled planters, candles, and other home decor pieces (that don’t look upcycled)
- The perfect high-tech, reusable-forever notebook
- A portable hot coffee and tea maker that runs on solar
- A cocktail kit that lets you bring the party anywhere, sustainably
- Beautifully designed daypacks with built-in tech for travellers and backpackers
- Swedish-designed jeans that will look good—forever
- A solar cooker that makes sure you have nice hot meals even while off the grid
- Quite possibly the most environmentally suitcase ever built
- A solar panel that’s designed to be both a cool focal point in your home and also a renewable energy source
- The most aesthetic composter we’ve ever seen
What are the best eco-friendly gifts for 2021?
1. GoSun SolarLight: Perfect for campers and outdoors-lovers – $$
This rechargeable solar-powered flashlight packs a whopping 280 lumens of light into a little body.
Going somewhere that won’t have a lot of sun? No problem. It comes with a USB cord that you can charge the flashlight with in a pinch.
What we really dig about this flashlight is the spotlight and lantern mode, which means you don’t have to buy a separate lantern for when you want to hang outdoors after dark:
There’s even a red strobe emergency setting for those SOS situations, and the SolarLight also has a clever magnetic back for hands-free use. GoSun really went over the top—in the best way possible—with this flashlight.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links through which we may receive a small commission at no cost to you, if you choose to purchase anything after visiting a link on this page. That being said, these tools were curated from extensive research and consideration of reviews of the best options we’ve found.
tentree has really taken eco-friendly fashion to the next level. They plant 10 trees for every purchase, which sounds like a lot, but given that their goal is to plant a billion trees by 2030,… totally understandable.
From blankets to hats to scarves and clothing, tentree has a ton of gift options…
And like Klean Kanteen, they’re a certified B corporation.
Check out tentree’s Eco Log, planting sites, and manufacturing process!
|🌲 Pro-tip: What is a B Corp? Who cares? B (the B stands for “beneficial”) Corps are basically businesses that operate in such a way that they benefit society overall, taking into account not only environmental, but also social good.|
3. SAMPLEHAUS: Perfect for that friend who’s always getting another plant – $$ – $$$
Founded by Diana Adams, SAMPLEHAUS takes interior design waste and surplus pieces and upcycles them into eclectic home decor pieces:
Our favorites? The planters, of course. We love our houseplants, and there’s no better place to start reducing your carbon footprint than right at home.
Having worked for an interior design firm, Diana found that lots of beautiful fabrics and other design materials were getting thrown out, whether it was because they were getting discontinued or there was just too much left over.
So, she decided to create beautiful and functional home design pieces sustainably using these materials. And they’re beautiful.
4. Rocketbook Core: A sustainable gift idea for students and note-takers – $$
For any students (or just super organized note-takers) out there, the Rocketbook is the perfect gift.
Beyond being an eco-friendly alternative to all the paper we use, it’s just really… cool.
You can write notes in the Rocketbook like you normally would in a paper notebook, but what’s cool is that your notes get transcribed into files that get added to your Google Drive, Dropbox, or whatever file storage app you use.
But that’s not all. The Rocketbook App doesn’t just scan and upload your notes—it also makes your notes easily searchable when you look at it later on your computer or tablet. Using the Smart Titles feature, all you have to do is use hashtags when you write down a heading, and it’ll automatically get picked up in the scanned version of your notes:
Once you’ve uploaded your notes, just add a bit of water, and poof—it erases your writing and you can reuse your notebook.
5. GoSun Brew Travel Coffee Maker: A sustainable gift for making hot beverages, no fuel needed- $$$
Know someone who’s constantly holding a hot cup of coffee or tea, no matter where they are?
The Brew is a stainless steel cup, French press, and heater—all in one.
Make tea, coffee, or a hot cup of cocoa using just solar power! It weighs less than three pounds and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your bag, which means you can enjoy a hot beverage no matter where you are, no fuel needed. All you need is a solar charger or power bank.
6. Kleen Canteen Cocktail Kit: A green gift idea for those who like to take their cocktails places – $$$
Hey, sometimes you don’t want to just enjoy your cocktails at home.
You’ve probably seen Klean Canteen’s water bottles and thermoses around, but this cocktail kit is a little more fun. And not only is it great for transporting fun adult beverages, it also helps reduce single use plastics that tend to get thrown out after one shot—err, drink:
Making a hot toddy? It’ll stay hot in your Klean Kanteen for up to 38 hours.
Want to enjoy an ice cold martini? It’ll stay cold in your Klean Kanteen for up to 135 hours. That’s over five days.
The kit comes with an insulated TKPro bottle and enough eight-ounce tumblers (2x) and 10-ounce cups (4x) to let you bring the party to the beach, the balcony, or anywhere you want.
And beyond that, Klean Kanteen is also certified climate-neutral and a B corporation.
7. Solgaard Shore-Tex bags: Perfect day bags for backpackers – $$$ – $$$$
Solgaard’s line of Shore-Tex bags are made of a textile fabric that’s made entirely from ocean-bound plastic.
- Collect plastic from beaches and riverways
- Sort and clean it
- Break it down
- Stretch it out into yarn
- Weave it into Shore-Tex fabric
The Shore-Tex series includes the Lifepack, which is a solar backpack (learn more about those) and the flagship product of the line. It comes with the Solarbank charger to make sure your phone stays fully charged, an anti-theft lock (in case you need to let it out of your sight for a minute at the airport or coffeeshop), and other nifty features:
…A Daypack that’s very similar to the Lifepack. Like the Lifepack, it has a waterproof bottom and is designed to be drop-proof—which is good because it can also hold up to a 15-inch MacBook (it’s a bit cheaper than the Lifepack)…
… And a Solar Sling that comes with the SolarBank (you can get this without it if you already have a solar charger) that has a built-in solar window and keeps your phone charged:
8. Nudie Jeans: Perfect for the denim lover – $$$ – $$$$
If the person you’re getting a gift for loves their denim and their environment, then you have to get them a pair of Nudies.
Nudie Jeans are from Gothenburg, Sweden, and their mission is to be the most sustainable denim company in the world.
Grace actually owns Nudies herself—she bought three pairs of Nudie Jeans about 10 years ago, and hasn’t bought any jeans since. She’s still wearing her Tight Long Johns and High Kais. A lot.
And the great thing about Nudies is they look better the more you wear them. Here’s a comparison of how a new pair of Nudie dry denim (dry denim is basically a pair of jeans that’s meant to be worn and “broken in”) ages over time:
Nudie’s jeans are made to last forever (or as close to forever as possible), and they’ve really put their money where their mouths are. Between their “free repairs for life” program, their retail “repair partners” that’ll fix your jeans for you, and the denim repair kits that they’ll mail to you free of charge, Nudie’s committment to making their jeans last is, to put it lightly, impressive.
They’re not the cheapest jeans in the world, but honestly they’re not that expensive ever, and for the amount of wear you get out of them? It’s worth it for us.
|Further reading: Want to learn more about how seriously Nudie Jeans takes this? They put out a yearly sustainability report that covers their initiatives around social impact, materials used, sourcing strategies, and more. We don’t know of any fashion brands doing this, and it’s pretty amazing to see.|
9. GoSun Go Portable Solar Oven: The best sustainable gift for chefs who love camping – $$$$
If you know any avid campers who also appreciate a good meal, then this solar cooker would make a thoughtful gift.
The GoSun Go is a solar cooker that weights two (two!) pounds and lets you roast, bake, boil, or steam a meal—anywhere you can find the sun. Actually, it works even without direct sun! According to GoSun, it “works in the rain, clouds, and snow. If you can see a shadow, it’ll cook.”
It fits right into a backpack, and is a great eco-friendly, fuel-free way to cook a meal outdoors.
Not only that, it also lets you keep your food nice and hot for up to 12 hours. The vacuum tube is like a Thermos, so just keep the Go closed until it’s eatin’ time.
10. Solgaard Carry-on Closet Suitcase: An elevated gift for travel-lovers – $$$$
To be honest, there are a ton of very aesthetic suitcase brands popping up (Away is probably the big one that everyone’s heard about), but we really like this Solgaard Carry-on for a few reasons.
First, it’s the perfect carry-on size—perfect for a three-to-six day trip—that’s accepted by all airlines. It’s also designed so that the weight of your belongings is distributed more evenly on both sides.
For us (we’re obsessed with organizing our stuff when we pack), the neat thing about Solgaard’s carry-on is its six-shelf closet system, which acts as a compression cube to help you save space.
What is a little more unique is the fact that it’s made with recycled ocean plastic. That doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing on quality though—the shell is waterproof and scratch-resistant, and as Solgaard describes it, “indestructible.”
Not only that, for every product Solgaard sells, they pull five pounds of plastic from the ocean!
Back to the suitcase. You can charge your phone too—the suitcase has a handy port that you can use to hook up the Solarbank (Solgaard’s solar power bank, which is sold separately):
11. Grouphug Solar Panel: An eco-friendly gift for home decor enthusiasts who want to dip their toes into solar energy – $$$$
Fresh off of a successful showing on Shark Tank, the Grouphug 10-watt solar panel does double duty, acting as a beautiful piece of home decor and also a renewable source of energy to keep your phone and wireless earbuds charged.
What’s notable is that most portable solar panels don’t come with batteries—which means they can’t actually store any unused electricity they generate. (You usually have to buy those separately.)
This Grouphug solar panel comes with a built-in rechargeable battery, which means that it can store excess unused power and charge small devices like your smartphone, smartwatch, portable speakers, and bike lights!
Not only is the solar panel itself eco-friendly and repairable (they ask you to please don’t throw it away—they’ll fix it if any issues come up), they’ve even gone the extra mile and made sure that packaging is totally recyclable as well.
12. Living Composter: A complete splurge of a gift, but we’re pretty sure it’s the coolest vermicomposter in existence – $$$$
We’ve seen and compared a lot of composters in our many online-shopping trips, from composting bins to tumblers to even vermicomposters (aka worm composters).
But this one takes the cake.
Sure, it’s a beautiful worm house, but it’s also just so thoughtfully built and easy to use. It’s also the perfect option if you’re worried about not having enough space in your apartment to compost. Just add a bit of water, drop your food scraps into the BIOVESSEL container, and wait for it to cook.
You won’t need to hide this under your kitchen sink either, since it looks perfectly nice on the kitchen counter, plus the lids seal your compost heaps and make sure no odor gets out.
And yes, this is probably the most expensive thing on the list, but it’s such a unique sustainable gift that we just had to include it.
Other than the gifts themselves, the other biggest source of waste when it comes to gift-giving is everything the gift is wrapped in. The paper, ribbons, bags… basically, all the fancy stuff that exist only to be torn off the gift and thrown away.
Now, we like a good surprise as much as anyone else and definitely enjoy the act of unwrapping a present, so one way we’ve tried to mitigate the waste is by saving the wrapping paper that we’ve removed from gifts that we‘ve been given.
It means we have to unwrap those gifts a little more carefully so that we can reuse them, but most of the time, it works out.
Otherwise, we also reuse paper and gift bags that we’ve received, and only buy more if we absolutely need it.
We’ve also found that jute string (which is kind of like twine) is great for wrapping up those gifts in—and they can be composted! Yay.
Which eco-friendly gifts will they love?
And that’s a wrap! Happy browsing, and we hope your lucky gift recipients enjoy your thoughtful present (that also helps the world a better place).