Today’s post contains numerous eco-friendly, sustainable gift ideas for birthdays, Christmas, and other occasions. I’ve included experiences, gifts of time, home baked and home made gifts, subscriptions, eco-friendly gift boxes, and gifts to help people start on a sustainable life journey,
There are different ways to look at giving eco-friendly gifts – perhaps it will be something with waste-free packaging, something made with sustainable materials, something that will help the receiver to prevent unnecessary waste, or even something that will prevent additional car use in the future.
We are lucky in some ways that we don’t have masses of people to buy for. This year we have paid for one son to have thermostatic valves installed on his radiators at home, and the other has a Netflix subscription. That may not sound very festive, but it’s wanted and needed. Of course they’ll be a few little edible treats, but they will have minimal packaging. I will also be giving plants and bulbs to our parents as I know they will be used and appreciated.
I hope you find my suggestions below useful, there should be something here for everyone.
Many of us remember the simple Christmases of the 60s and 70s where working class families did their best to provide children with a special present and a stocking filled with small treats and a satsuma. Adults were content with time spent together.
Somewhere along the line Christmas became an all-out extravaganza, no expense was spared, and gifts were bought in abundance for friends, family, and colleagues.
Over the last couple of years people have started to reign it in a bit again. Maybe they realise it’s silly getting into debt for one day, they could be questioning why they are buying expensive tat that nobody really appreciates, or perhaps more and more people are becoming aware of the effect that extreme buying has on the environment.
Whatever your reason, the type of giving that will encourage sustainable living is good news for your bank balance and the environment. Read on for suggestions of eco-friendly gifts to suit all budgets.
Eco-friendly gift ideas
Give your time
Time is precious, and giving your time is the greatest gift of all. Many older relatives and young couples might appreciate your help far more than receiving a shop bought gift. Why not make a home-made IOU gift certificate offering:
- Babysitting or petsitting
- A get together with afternoon tea
- Help to decorate a room
- Offer to spring clean the house, or clean all the windows
- Weed the garden or mow the lawn
- Walk the dog regularly
- Offer to do their shopping
- Arrange to take them on a day out somewhere sightseeing or to the beach
Home-baked and handmade gifts
If you’re handy in the kitchen, home-baked goods always go down a treat. You can reuse jars, ice cream tubs, and baskets to store the treats in. Make them look festive with fabric and reusable twine. You could make:
You could create a hot chocolate hamper containing – a ceramic Christmas mug or reusable coffee cup, a tub/jar of hot chocolate powder, a carton of rice/oat milk, marshmallows, and sprinkles. Buy a silicone mould to make your own chocolate spoons. Or make a batch of individual portions and present them in a decorated jar.
Similarly, you could make up a few “bake your own cookie” jars by putting all the ingredients into a jar along with the recipe and method printed out.
If you’re looking to gift something with a bit more kick, have a go at making your own booze.
There are lots of homemade gifts you could make or grow depending on your talents and hobbies such as:
- Knitted or crocheted soft toys, clothing, and blankets
- Lavender or wheat bags
- Potted plants
- A cut flower arrangement
- A Christmas table centrepiece
- Christmas tree decorations
- Christmas wreath
- Memory cushions made from clothes
- Quilted blankets or throws
- Digital or hand-drawn/painted artwork
- A photo book
Experience gifts & subscriptions
So many of us have everything we want, so an “experience” voucher will be an excellent gift. You could buy:
- Concert tickets
- Vouchers to a restaurant
- Cinema tickets/annual passes
- Theatre trip
- A spa day
- A sightseeing walking tour
- Sign them up for a DIY or new skill course
- Membership to National Trust or English Heritage
- Theme Park membership
- An escape room experience
- Tickets to a sculpture garden
- A season ticket for public transport
- Membership to a local gym or sports centre
- Adopt an animal scheme with a local animal rescue sanctuary or the WWF
- A year of walks from The Ramblers Association
Most of us now have digital subscriptions to read our books and magazines online, watch tv and films, and listen to music, so you might like to consider gifting a subscription to:
- Spotify or iTunes
- Kindle Unlimited
- A magazine or newspaper subscription
Gifts to encourage a sustainable eco-friendly lifestyle
I often see people who are already on a journey to a waste-free life, ask what they should buy for people who aren’t. If you are thinking of buying for friends and family to encourage them to live more sustainably, I would always say have the conversation first.
There’s no point in buying eco-friendly gifts if they won’t use them. If they’re on board that’s great and there are loads of starter gifts you could buy to start them off on a waste-free life, depending on their interests and your budget.
When you’ve decided what gifts to buy, try to shop local too.
- Flower and fruit/vegetable seeds
- Herbs in pots
- Bee bombs
- Bee friendly plants such as lavender
- Garden bulbs
- Berry bushes
- Grow your own mushroom kits
- Bird feeders
- Bird nesting boxes
- Insect home
- Food composter
- Solar lights
- Crochet or knitting needles and yarn
- A sewing machine
- Sewing kit with needles, pins, and thread
- Household tools
- A food processor
- A yogurt maker
- A bread maker
- A slow cooker
- A soda stream
- A coffee machine
- A thermos flask
- Brew your own beer or wine kits
- Reusable Tupperware for batch cooking and lunchboxes
- Mason jars
- A teapot or infuser and loose tea leaves
- Reusable vegetable bags
- Fabric shopping bags or tote bags
- Silicone cake moulds
- Ice lolly moulds
- Reusable baking parchment
- Beeswax wraps
- Stainless steel straws
- Reusable water bottle
- Reusable coffee cup
- Wicker storage and decorative baskets
- A hamper of eco-friendly laundry & cleaning products
- Reusable hot water bottles
- Bamboo toothbrushes, eco-friendly toothpaste and dental floss
- Shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars
- Deodorant sticks
- Cloth make-up removers
- Cotton handkerchiefs
- A fountain pen and ink
- A bicycle
- Bicycle accessories such as lights, pump, puncture repair kit, etc
- Weights, bamboo yoga mat, or other home fitness equipment
- A Kindle or E-reader
- A Bluetooth speaker
Buy your gifts second hand
Buy new, nearly new, and pre-loved gifts from charity shops, marketplace, car boot sales, Vinted, eBay, and antique shops. Explain why you will be doing it, and hopefully, it will encourage your friends and family to do the same and buy eco-friendly gifts too.
Reduce the number of gifts you give
As you get older, it’s less important to receive gifts. Secret Santas are becoming increasingly popular amongst families and groups of friends. That way everyone gets one gift and it will hopefully be something they’d like. Set a small price limit amongst your group and buy for just one person, but be sure to find out their interests so it will get used.
Eco-friendly gift boxes
If you’re looking for pamper products and gift boxes have a look at my reviews of:
I’d love to know if you have any other ideas, or if you and your loved ones have changed the way you give in favour of leading a more eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle.