9 Places to Get Great Green Gifts (plus Bonus Recommendations!)
A Guide to Eco-Friendly, Recycled, Organic, Natural, Fair-Trade, Upcycled, and Otherwise Green Alternatives
Back in 2004-2007, I took the time every holiday season to compile a little PDF guide featuring a full 100+ great eco-friendly/green gift ideas. I considered myself something of an “eco-shopper” (and still do). Someone who can find you an organic, recycled, all-natural, fair-trade, vegan, and/or used version of any thing you might want to get or give.
I took great pleasure in selecting the coolest, most interesting and environmentally friendly wares, suggesting that you consider these items instead of standard commercial holiday fare. I got wonderful feedback on these gift guides. It was a joy to scour the web for these unique collections.
Some things have changed. One, I no longer have time to do that kind of extensive shopping—labor of love though it was. And two, there are literally a hundred-fold many more earth-friendlier resources to choose from now!
Many of the purveyors from my older guides no longer exist—small, artisan, independent green businesses do sometimes come and go, alas. But for every one that may have quietly closed its doors, the good news is that probably 50-100 more have opened.
Green goods are ever bigger business. Although “greenwashing” and “fake green” is a real issue, the fact is there are more choices than ever for eco-friendly alternatives to most things we want to buy. It would take me exponentially longer today to wade through all the options and select “just” 100.
I missed doing those guides, however, so in the last few years I decided on a compromise. Though the list of retailers is too long to be thorough, I can create at least a “hot list” of fave eco-marketplaces to browse—and give a few gift idea examples for each place. So that’s what I’ve done!
So here you are: NINE Places To Do Your Holiday Eco-Shopping
Scroll to the end! There’s also:
- an awesome bonus list of natural/eco health, beauty, and spa gift sites
- a link to alternative eco gift wrap ideas
- links to nonprofit contributions and “simplify the holidays” ideas
The 9 main stores are listed in no particular order—not order of preference.
NOTE: These retailers are unaware that I even do this. This has always been first and foremost a service of the heart. After all (except for my own brand-new Etsy shop—see below!), I’m hawking other people’s stuff. Simply because if you’re going to shop for the holidays (and most of us are, even if with restraint), I want to raise awareness of more thoughtful alternatives.
Of course, simply using and buying less is always the best way to go of all. Even “greener” gifts still require resources, from manufacture to delivery. Experiences are the most valuable (and “smallest-footprint”) gifts; presence is the best present!
But I’m not foolish enough to think everyone is simply going to stop buying stuff. Ha! Hence, the guide. If we’re going to shop, let’s do our very best—lowest earth impact, highest positive impact. 🙂
Enjoy, and happy holidays!
A worldwide marketplace where individual artisans market and distribute their wares to the public. Searching “organic cotton” “recycled” “reclaimed” and so on will reveal a massload of hits in every category you could imagine. If you like your gifts to be handmade and one-of-a-kind as well as eco-friendly, check this out. It’s really addictive! And SUPPORTS ARTISTS!
And, new this year, I now have my very own Etsy shop! Check out Gaia’s Moon Botanicals: pure, natural, organic skincare and aroma handcrafted with love and Reiki in the Sonoran desert. Aromatherapeutic skin care oil rollerballs, developed by a health coach/herbalist/Reiki practitioner (that would be me).
Sample gift ideas:
- Handmade quilts, blankets, pillowcases
- Handmade jewelry
- Handmade organic cotton yoga pants, skirts, sweaters
- Handmade rugs
- Handmade toys
- Handmade chairs
- Handmade pillows
- Handmade wreaths
- Handmade lightswitch plates
- Handmade candleholders
- Handmade baby clothes
- Handmade belts
- Handmade kitchen towels
- Handmade upcycled recycled cashmere fingerless gloves
- Handmade pet ID tags, collars, and bowl mats
- Handmade mugs
- Handmade upcycled sweater hat
- Handmade calendars
- Handmade storage boxes
- Handmade furniture
- Handmade cookbook holder
- Handmade pretty much anything–go search!
Sample gift ideas:
- 3-packs of organic cotton socks
- Recycled glass tealight holder
- Recycled biofuel candle
- Fair-trade coffees
- Organic cotton baby toys and clothes
- Hand-blown drinking glasses
- Handmade artisan jewelry
- Recycled journals
Ultimate Green Store (www.theultimategreenstore.com)
Unique selection of clothing, home, travel, camping, office, toy, pet and spa items from a wide range of green brands.
Sample gift ideas:
- Ecofriendly crayons shaped like rocks or stars
- Recycled and hemp dog collars, beds, and toys
- Recycled tire or NeoGreene laptop sleeves
- Recycled wine bottle drinking glasses
- Recycled glass water bottle
- Recycled paper, pencils and office supplies
- Organic cotton towels, sheets, bathrobes, and PJs
- Organic baby clothes, stuffed toys, and blankies
- Solar flashlights, reading lights and camp lights
- Recycled backpacks and duffels
- Beautiful printed recycled tees
Whole Foods (or your local co-op)
My fondness for this national company (whatever its warts, which any company has, I think it does a lot of good and beats standard grocery stores by miles) does extend to holiday shopping. If you like to shop in person for gifts, it’s one of the best marketplaces for eco-friendly variety. Your local co-op if you have one will do very nicely for these types of gifts too.
(NOTE: I do have to say that since the Amazon purchase of WF, the store is going downhill in my view. For example, they instantly replaced the nice organic EO hand sanitizer with (ew!) toxic propylene-glycol-and-gross-synthetic-fragrance Purell). They’ve been selling GMO potatoes on the sly. Other changes, too. I’m not sure what they might be carrying in the future that they currently eschew. Be warned.)
Sample gift ideas:
- Natural and/or organic candles
- Natural and/or organic lotions
- Organic cosmetics
- Natural perfumes
- Selection of artisan organic olive oils and balsamic vinegars
- Selection of artisan spreads, organic gourmet crackers and olives in a basket
- Organic and biodynamic wines
- Essential oils and diffusers
- Handmade soaps cut to custom bars
- Organic chocolates and truffles
- Eco-friendly water bottles, lunch containers, and mugs
- Organics cotton dishcloths
- Selection of organic artisan teas and/or coffees and cookies
- Eco-friendly cookware and kitchenware (e.g. bamboo ; recycled spatula)
Animal Rescue Site (www.theanimalrescuesite.com)
Part of the Greater Good Network. Many relatively low-priced fair-made gift items such as apparel, housewares, accessories and jewelry. Every purchase donates bowls of food to a shelter, and you can also narrow your search to “shop green” in every category as well as organic, recycled, solar, etc. To target most green items, use the Eco-Friendly, Fair-Trade, Global Girlfriend, Novica, and Gifts that Give More tabs on the left side.
Artisanal jewelry, clothes, art, and household items. Beautiful stuff and supports artists and artisans from around the world. NOVICA’s mission is to “spread happiness by celebrating exploration, empowering artists, and preserving global culture.”
Kiva Store – (https://store.kiva.org)
Kiva now has its very own “Novica-like” store in addition to its micro-lending contribution site (below under “Contributions).
Uncommon Goods (www.uncommongoods.com)
They don’t bill themselves as eco-friendly, but maybe they should. While they don’t focus on eco-goods per se, a lot of their unique and whimsical items are. Searched “recycled” and you get hundreds of hits. Bright, fun colorful catalog!
NEW this year! Sweet new shop with lovely eco-goodies…and their home-page mission says it all.
“Doing the ‘right thing’ for our planet can be confusing. Enter EarthHero, a place for people who want to be a part of the solution. We go the extra mile to provideyou with the knowledge and options you deserve to live in a way that aligns with your sustainability values… whatever they may be. We’re working hard to set new standards, raise the bar, and redefine what ‘good for the planet’ really means. Every action you take in life is an opportunity to be better. When you shop on EarthHero, you contribute to a better future for us all.
COLLECTIVE HELL YEAH!
SHORT-LIST OF ECO-CLOTHING SHOPS THAT SELL VERY SPECIFIC THINGS
- PACT (www.wearpact.com) Organic cotton tees, hoodies, lounge pants, pjs, undies, and other apparel. REALLY good stuff, nice basics. Organic saves water and chems, and now they will issue you a free shipping label to use your delivery box to ship gently used clothes to the nearest charity! Good, good company. NOTE: for Green Friday weekend, you’ll get the best deals going direct to the site, but after it’s over you can get 20% off using my link.
- BOMBAS (www.bombas.com) Every pair you buy, a pair is donated to a homeless shelter—a great social mission. And they are great socks!
- Prana (www.prana.com) Although there are lots of organic clothing stores now, I gotta give a shout out to Prana. I’m a “Prana Influencer” now, yay! And I LOVE that as a fitness professional, I get to choose from so many sweet, comfortable, functional styles in organic cotton. Search “organic” on their site and you get a couple hundred hits! That’s a commitment to organic that makes a difference.
- You also gotta love Patagonia for what they did with their tax cut—and they also made a big commitment to organic cotton long before anyone else did. Their stuff lasts like the dickens and they repair stuff if it doesn’t!
Don’t forget that REI invented #optoutside — closing their stores on what is for most retailers the biggest revnue day of the year, sending employees (and us!) outdoors instead (or volunteering in our communities). If it was a gimmick (I don’t think so, I think it’s fabulous), it worked—I love them more and will buy there. They sell Prana and Patagonia and tons of other sports and rec goodies, so if you’re an outdoor gearhead, it’s a great option.
FOR YOUR BEAUTY/SPA GIFTS
BONUS LIST of natural/organic/synthetic-free cosmetics and beauty products.
Forget Sephora and Beauty.com—go green, clean beauty! These are the “Sephoras” of all-natural, organic and chemical-free cosmetics. There are lots of places to get these kinds of products, but these are some of my faves, and they offer variety/uniqueness and the bit of special, high-end sparkle that you might want holiday gifts to have. Fun sites to browse!
- Detox Market www.thedetoxmarket.com
- Credo Beauty www.credobeauty.com
- Follain www.follain.com
- Alleia www.aillea.com
- Fig & Flower www.shopfigandflower.com
- Truth Beauty Co. www.thetruthbeautycompany.com
- Ayla Beauty www.aylabeauty.com
- LoveLula www.lovelula.com
- Pharmaca www.pharmaca.com
- Beautyhabit www.beautyhabit.com
- Living Earth Beauty www.livingearthbeauty.com
BONUS BEAUTY/SPA LINKS: Health/vitamin online stores like iherb.com and Vitacost also have a nice selection of hair, skin, cosmetic and spa items, most very affordable.
Do-it-Yourself eco gifts and wrap Pinterest Board!
(Do Americans really need to spend $2.5 billion a year on Christmas WRAP alone?! and then….throw it all away?!)
MAKE A CONTRIBUTION, GIVE A GIFT
There are many, many nonprofit sites where you can make a contribution in someone else’s name as a gift. Almost any charity or cause will allow you to do this.
I love microlending with KIVA because you can fund projects of all sizes to help sustain people all over the world—with just $25 you can be a “philanthropist.”
Animal charities will often send a plush toy when you “adopt” an endangered species (and you can do this in a recipient’s name).
DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE GIFT GUIDE: secure.defenders.org/site/SPageNavigator/wagc_homepage.html
NATURE CONSERVANCY GIFT GUIDE: gifts.nature.org/
A RANDOM LIST OF HEALTHY PICKS FROM A HEALTH COACH AND HERBALIST (ME 🙂 )
Banyan Botanicals – one of my favorite sources for Ayurvedic herbs and oils. Try some of the mini-size massage oils for Ayurvedic constitutions as stocking stuffers.
Floracopeia – While they’re not my primary plant medicine, I love essential oils for aroma-therapeutic benefits, and a diffuser and a few nice oils makes a lovely gift for just about anyone. There are a number of quality essential oils (pure, undiluted, no synthetics or adulterations) on the market. If you don’t like the MLM companies such as Young Living or DoTerra, try Plant Therapy, Rocky Mountain Oils, Eden’s Botanicals, Eden Gardens, and Mountain Rose Herbs, to name a few. But Floracopeia is kind of the Rolls Royce of essential oils, and David and Sara Crow are highly qualified herbalists and some of the most knowledgeable educators who have furthered the cause of aromatherapy and oils/flower essences as medicine. I find their flower essence tinctures to be some of the most powerful flower essences I have used, and the bottles are beautiful and gift-worthy—find one for an issue or goal someone has, and they’ll love trying something new.
Urban Moonshine Tinctures. There are literally tens of thousands of medicinal herbs (and even more products made with them), and mostly i recommend you consult with a qualified herbalist and practitioner who can help you determine what herbs are best for your goals, body type, health conditions and more. However, there are a few botanicals and products that nearly everyone could benefit from. (Turmeric , for example, although it’s perhaps not the giftiest—then again, this easy-to-make Gaia Golden Milk or this yummy Turmeric Blend spice mix…) But at this time of year, how can you resist something called Joy Tonic? This tincture uses some lovely herbs that are not your run-of-the-mill St-Johns-Wort-for-depression—it is brightening and soothing, and the effect is actually quite feel-able. Everyone I know who’s tried it loves it. (NOTE: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.)
OTHER ECO-GIFT IDEAS:
Health Apps. Perhaps your recipient would like a meditation app, a GPS app, a fitness tracking app or a sleep monitor. Helpful, waste-free and fun gadgety tech without all the big expense. Let me know if you need recs!
Plants. Shop a nursery, give something that grows. Many online companies will now ship plants of all sizes.
Art. Music downloads are waste-free! And supporting independent artists is a great gift to the recipient AND the artist. I still have music for sale (email me to purchase a download if you like, or check the usual sites). Better yet, support one of the many other artists you may know. (Invest in paintings and photography too!)
And finally: check out SIMPLIFY THE HOLIDAYS, and take the pledge. And get this booklet. Many resources here, including a guide, tips, an alternative gift registry (to give experiences) and more.
From Center for a New American Dream, who used to publish all my gift guides.
Their motto is “More of What Matters.” It’s awesome.
https://newdream.org/simplify-the-holidays HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Please share this guide freely and spread the awareness of voting with our dollars. Buy less—and when you do buy, buy as much recycled, organic, fair-made and local as you can. Thank you!