Ethical & Eco Gift Ideas

In years past, I’ve struggled with finding gifts for the people in my life that were thoughtful and meaningful. My gifting started to feel a bit stale and lacked the evidence that I had considered the recipient’s interests, likes, or dislikes. I decided there had to be out-of-the-box ideas that didn’t involve an itchy sweater, and I came up with a few gift alternatives that have been a hit year after year.

I remember the first time I gave my parents tickets to see a Broadway show as a holiday gift. They were so excited to have an enjoyable night out already planned and, most importantly, delighted they weren’t receiving stuff they probably didn’t need or want. From then on, my approach to gift-giving became more intentional as I selected gifts that were an experience, can be consumed, are practical, and truly wanted/needed. 

Photo by Jill Wellington on

Consumable Gifts: These are among my favorite gifts to give and receive any time of the year. Consumable gifts won’t contribute to the overwhelm of stuff felt by most after the holidays. I always find this type of gifting enjoyable and personal to create as it involves putting together a few favorite items of giftee into a gift box or basket. Products such as chocolate, candles, beloved hot drinks, snacks, beauty products, or even favorite “green” cleaning products are all excellent examples of consumable gifts that one can easily create and guaranteed to be enjoyed by most.

Photo by Perfecto Capucine on

Subscription or Membership Gifts: This is a fantastic gift that keeps on giving, and one I wouldn’t have thought of if not gifted to me first. I received a year’s subscription for audiobooks, and it is one of my most favorite gifts to date. Other ideas can include subscriptions for music, favorite publications, learning classes, movies/shows. Memberships to museums, zoos, aquariums are also welcome gifts that most people will enjoy and appreciate.

Photo by cottonbro on

Experience Gifts: Given the plethora of experiences to choose from, these are always fun gifts to give and receive. From tickets to the movies, concerts, cafes, shows, restaurants, amusement parks, luncheonettes, waterparks, spas, and mini-golf, you’ll have enough experience gifts to give for years to come. Some of these ideas can cost a pretty penny, but you can also swing an experience gift on a budget. I once gave my sister a gift certificate to get her nails done, along with a gift card to her favorite lunch spot, and she loved it.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The Gift of Time: This is a special gift for parents and grandparents to create with the kiddos for other family members, friends, and neighbors. My husband and boys did this for me one year, and I never forgot their proud, sweet faces as they watched me open the coupon book they helped create. There was one coupon good for helping to make breakfast, another for setting the table, and so on. It was adorable and taught them a valuable lesson that gifts aren’t just physical items we purchase at a store. Time is a precious commodity, especially today when we seem to be busier than ever, and so when someone commits their time to another, the impact can be greater than any physical gift. A few more ideas to give the gift of time; volunteer at an organization you care about or organize a food or clothing drive. Check-in on your elderly neighbors or relatives, and ask if they need help; sometimes, what they need the most is the company of others and feeling seen.

Gifts that Give Back: If you decide to purchase a physical gift try to shop from companies that carry fair trade, ethically sourced, and locally made products. Their business practices should be transparent and place value on people and the planet first. You can find unique, handmade products made from natural, sustainable materials from your local shops or online small businesses. 

As you make your way through the holiday season in search of the perfect gift, we hope we inspired you to try one (or all) of these gift ideas. Share with us! Which one of the above ideas will you try first?

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