Eco-Friendly Ideas for Holiday Gifts

The holiday season always brings wonderful times with family and friends; as well as gift exchange traditions. The pressure to find the perfect gift can be overwhelming at times; and the frantic search from store to store plus the buying, packing and wrapping creates stress, waste and pollution (not to mention financial strain).

We have put together a list of ideas for gifts that are thoughtful, affordable and eco friendly, that will hopefully make your shopping easier and free up your time to truly enjoy the season.

Re-usable products such as mugs, water bottles, lunchboxes and containers are great gifts for friends and colleagues; they reduce waste as they are used and will help the recipient save money as well. A cute re-usable shopping bag could save hundreds of plastic bags a year. Our college and hospital cafeterias offer reusable mugs that will make all subsequent refills only $1. Having a cute bento box can be a great motivator to bring lunch to work as well. And a nice set of eating utensils can save thousands of plastic forks and knifes from being discarded per year!

Handmade gifts have less of an environmental impact and a huge personal touch. There are many things you can make with items you have around the house for an affordable gift that will impress your friends or loved ones. Get crafty with homemade candles, body scrubs, bath salts, photo prints or hand-knited scarves. 

A green living how-to book could be a very welcome gift for someone who is aspiring to live a more sustainable life. There are many great books out there on the subject of eco-friendly, organic living, like Go Green, Live Rich from David Bach or Wildly Affordable Organic from Linda Watson. I just started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo to help me prepare for spring cleaning (Bonus points if you know the recipient has a Kindle or iPad and you can buy an e-book instead). 

Buying environmentally friendly toys for the children in your life will teach them about sustainability, and keep them away from potentially hazardous substances. Luckily, we now have many options online and in big-box stores when choosing toys that are healthy, fun and sustainable. As always when buying children's items, it's important to do a little research, read labels and check out reviews. There are websites and apps that will also help you check if a toy contains any toxic materials, such as 

For families, a Secret Santa or gift exchange is a great idea to decrease the number of gifts on everyone's list, and you can spend your time getting one quality gift that is well made and perfect for the indended recipient. 

No matter what you're buying, remember to prioritize quality over quantity. Whenever possible, choose local or fair-trade products from merchants who are transparent about their methods and sources. 

Lastly, remember that there are many people around us (and around the world) for whom a holiday shopping list is the least of their worries. Consider asking for a charity donation in your name, donate food or money to a local shelter; or better yet, plan a family trip to volunteer for a local hospital or charity- it could become a beautiful family tradition!

It's also important to remember, amidst all the planning and shopping frenzy, what the holidays are really about: spending time with your family and loved ones.

For even more ideas on sustainable gift giving, click here.

 Our best wishes for a healthy, happy and green holiday season!

Posted on 12/13/2015 in Gifts, Holidays, Sustainability | Permalink

Contact Info

The content of this site is managed by the Sustainability Web Publishing Team.  If you have comments or suggestions please contact us via email using the links below.  If you are interested in volunteering to support the team, please contact Kristen directly.

Kristen Adams, Department of Anesthesiology

Dorysel Mora, Department of Neurology