The 16 Best Eco-Friendly Gifts for Environmentalist Givers and Receivers
For those looking for something carbon neutral, sustainable, recycled or all of the above
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The mere idea of putting together an environmental-specific gift guide, admittedly, is a little bit antithetical. After all, if we truly want to be stewards of this great planet and take action on climate change and pollution in significant enough ways that we protect human life into the future, we should be thinking about how all of our decisions (both personal and collective) can create change. In short, if we really cared about climate and the environment, every single one of our gift guides would be “for the environmentalist,” but without having to label it as such.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where some people think the fact of human-caused climate change is still a debate, so here we are with a list of presents to gift this holiday season that, in some way, support a healthier relationship between us and the Earth. All the ideas below work as gifts for environmentalists themselves, or as gifts environmentalists can buy for others. (Well, the green flame skull T-shirt may not work for the latter situation, but all the others should.)
The problem with shopping in an Earth-friendly way is that words like “green,” “sustainability” and “eco-friendly” have become trendy. Companies across all industries claim to support these tenets, but how do you really know if a brand walks the walk these days, especially when they can easily say one thing and do another (like Google and Amazon)?
We prefer to rely on authoritative, secondhand verification, so below you’ll find gifts from companies that are either pioneering new sustainable technologies, or are officially certified as B Corporations or Climate Neutral (1% for the Planet is also great, but the former two deal with the inner workings, not just after-the-fact donations). If they’ve received any of these environmental certifications, we’ll call that out.
OK, this first one’s actually a good gift for any drinker, anywhere: Air Company’s Vodka that’s made from carbon emissions. No kidding. We wrote about the launch a year ago, but now it seems they’ve figured out distribution, so you can order it on Reserve Bar below or a number of other booze shippers.
Sponsored by Dockers®
Back in 2010, Dockers® debuted its Water<Less® program, a suite of manufacturing techniques that require less water and drastically reduce environmental impact compared with traditional methods (in 2020 alone, Dockers® saved 20 million liters of water and recycled 42 million more). To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Water<Less®, the brand has released a capsule collection featuring garments with a washed, worn-in look that would typically take years to achieve. Anchoring the collection is a new patinated take on the classic Alpha Khaki — an iconic style made using Water<Less® methods. The new drop is available in four artfully faded hues and features the perfect combo of slim fit and stretchy comfort. Good for your closet, good for the planet. Win-win.
A tough powder-coated camp cup for actual camping or simply taking your coffee to go, reminding you to not be complacent when our public lands come under attack. [*B Corporation, Climate Neutral, 1% for the Planet]
You can’t go wrong with any Patagonia gear, as the company — and specifically its maverick founder Yvon Chouinard, who himself co-founded 1% for the Planet — has been a tireless advocate for environmental causes. We particularly like their NetPlus hats, like this trucker option, that use recycled fishing nets for the brims. [*B Corporation, 1% for the Planet]
The most recent collaboration between Kelly Slater’s sustainable clothing brand and Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling, once again featuring proprietary ECONYL straps made from fishing nets and other nylon waste. For every watch sold they’re donating $500 to the Ocean Conservancy.[*Developed their own 2030 sustainability plan.]
Keep your Christmas goose, Bob Cratchit, we’re eating Impossible Burger. This giftable pack from one of the greatest hopes in alternative meat includes 10 burger patties, two packs of ground Impossible meat and Impossible: The Cookbook, which features 40 recipes from notable chefs. Also makes for a good holiday game: Have your uncles try to differentiate between a meat burger and an Impossible Burger.
Remember FinalStraw, that portable, collapsible straw that went viral back when everyone thought we could solve the environmental crisis by cutting out single-use straws? Well they’ve got a bigger stable of reusable goods now that come in slick colorways for both kids and adults, and actually are beneficial if you remember to bring them with you. [*1% for the Planet]
Yes, we reviewed Askov Finlayson’s groundbreaking climate-positive parka last year and included it in the 2019 gift guide. But as we noted then, the company was only field testing the non-traditional colors of wheat, green and navy. This year, they’ve added a classic black parka, and for a coat this good (and this climate-friendly) we decided it was worth featuring again in this classic parka color. [*B Corporation]
Cookbooks make better gifts than ever this year as everyone is looking for new recipes to keep their newfound joy of cooking alive. Plant-based tomes, like this one from former Minneapolis restaurant Fig + Farro, will be even more in demand as people vow to eat less meat in 2021. But besides intriguing dishes like blueberry cinnamon rolls, Fig Cookbook also includes some thought-provoking essays. Plus, they’ll offset printing and the book’s carbon emissions by planting a tree through Trees for the Future.
Who after the year 2020 wouldn’t want to open up a present to discover it’s a weighted blanket they can lie under until the new year? Bearaby has partnered with organizations like Ocean Conservancy and One Tree Planted, which is commendable, but this blanket itself is made entirely from a material called “Eco-velvet” which is spun from recycled marine plastic.
As the company’s mission states, “coffee is exceptionally sensitive to the effects of climate change based on its habitat, so bad that half of coffee farms could be unable to grow coffee by 2050.” Overview is trying to sustain coffee production through regenerative-organic agriculture — and, thankfully, they’re just one example of an upstart trying to rethink the coffee process.
Holiday socks are one of those gifts that everyone tried to call cliche for a few years, but come on, who doesn’t like pulling on a fresh pair come Christmas morning? Guaranteed these merino wool versions from Bombas will feel even better knowing they’re coming from a B Corporation, and for every pair bought they’ll donate one to a homeless shelter. [*B Corporation]
Nisolo, one of our favorite new footwear brands of the past decade, has been consistently upping its environmental cred (not to mention its ethical production standards). This year, they made the huge move to be carbon neutral. Now, shoes are sometimes a difficult item to gift, but you can’t go wrong with slip-ons, especially the Alejandro in tobacco leather. [*B Corporation, Climate Neutral]
Books That Confront the Climate Crisis
The climate crisis is hard enough to fathom, much less confront. But in coming face to face with it through some of the great writers on the topic, it at least moves from a category of existential dread to one of potential action. There are modern classics like Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction, as well as newer acclaimed titles like Nathaniel Rich’s Losing Earth and Bill McKibben’s Falter.
It’s good to remember what’s at stake in the fight for a cleaner, healthier, livable planet — and this Great Lakes quilt makes that abundantly clear. Perfect for wrapping up in while drinking an Air Vodka martini and reading one of the aforementioned books, or the latest U.N. climate report. [*B Corporation]
If you don’t know about the youth leaders of the Sunrise Movement who are working tirelessly to bring about substantial climate action, most significantly in the form of the Green New Deal, then you should learn. If the gift recipient already has Sunrise posters on their walls and stickers on their reusable water bottles, then this totally bonkers T-shirt is the perfect gift for them.
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