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50 Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for a Sustainable Holiday (+Recycling Tips)

Title with variety of eco-friendly gifts and plant sprigs

Almost everyone needs a gift guide during the holiday season to get those last minute items. Why not follow an eco-friendly gift guide to help make this year a more sustainable holiday season than years past? Check out this curated list of eco-friendly options for great holiday gifts for your family and friends.

Recycling Tip: Be Aware of Packaging

So much packing is made of plastic. Many plastics can be difficult to recycle, leading to increased plastic waste in landfills. Choosing gifts that have little to no plastic packaging and instead have easy to recycle packaging, like cardboard or glass. This will help keep your holiday sustainable and eco-friendly.

Eco-friendly candles
  1. Candles are such a wonderful gift to give for the holidays. Ritual and Fancy makes an all-natural candle with reusable or recyclable vessels and recyclable packaging.

3 wine bottles
  1. Whether you are gifting one bottle of wine, or a wine club subscription, glass is infinitely recyclable, so it makes a great gift.

package-free lavender soap and natural sponge
  1. Help your loved ones pamper themselves with is eco-friendly package-free lavender soap and natural sponge set.

glass jar of soap
  1. Glass soap containers can be a lovely gift, especially when they are refillable like this one from Bathing Culture.

pickle gift box
  1. Try gifting a food sampler that has all recyclable containers, like this Offbeat Pickle Box from Mouth.

Recycling Tip: Buy From Stores That Have Take-Back Programs

If you’re giving something that will run out, try to think of what will happen to the packaging. Many companies offer take-back programs that help with the recycling of their packaging and products. Make sure your gift recipient knows how to recycle their gift once they’re done with it too!

pile of old clothes
  1. H & M not only has started making some clothing items from recycled plastics, they also offer a textile take-back program to keep fast fashion out of landfills.

beauty products
  1. When buying beauty products as gifts from Nordstroms or Nordstrom Rack, make sure to let the recipient know there is a packaging take-back program where they can bring all their beauty product packaging back after it is empty.

apple electronic products
  1. Give the gift of technology with Apple products knowing that they have a long-standing trade-in and take-back program.

Nike shoes and socks
  1. When you need a gift for a sneakerhead friend, make sure to buy from Nike and let your buddy know they can bring back their used sneakers for recycling to a Nike store.

ikea show room furniture
  1. If you’re gifting some home décor from Ikea, make sure your gift recipient knows that it can be brought back to Ikea to be resold.

Recycling Tip: Choose Gifts That Last

No one intends to buy a gift that breaks easily or gets discarded quickly, but you can definitely try and choose gifts that will be kept for the long haul, be reused repeatedly, or passed down to others.

little girl coloring a washable tablecloth
  1. Let your kids get artistic with this washable tablecloth that they can color over and over again by CoCo Village.

Charles Dickens book set
  1. While books are typically accepted for recycling, they are a gift that people keep for decades or pass along to be used again and again. Try finding a decorative classic set for your loved ones to enjoy.

Woman holding up a throw blanket on the beach
  1. Throw blankets seem to stay forever and make a great gift, so why not choose one that is made from recycled materials? In2Green makes decorative throw blankets made from a variety of eco-friendly yarns with recycled content.

chess set made of automotive parts
  1. There’s something about a nice chess set that can make it feel like an automatic family heirloom. This beauty is made from recycled auto parts to make it not only aesthetically pleasing, but also an eco-friendly gift.

80s vintage vase
  1. Vintage items already have lasted a long time, so your gift recipient could be giving them their second use! Try some cute vintage home décor from Simply Chi.

Recycling Tip: Seek Out Recycled Materials

Supporting a circular economy for a more eco-friendly future can happen simply by purchasing items that already have recycled content in them. Luckily many brands are trying to increase their sustainability by making gifts that use recycled materials.

recycling truck toy
  1. Green Toys makes all different types of trucks, tea sets, and water toys made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.

beach trash puzzle
  1. This 500-piece puzzle found at The Bay is made of 90% recycled materials and soy-based inks. It’s not only beautiful, but highlights the issue of plastic pollution in our waterways.

plastic interlocking toys
  1. This interlocking flower toy is made from 100% recycled plastic, has a beautiful marbleized design, and handmade to boot. Supporting small businesses like this is always a nice little addition to holiday shopping.

gold necklaces on a woman's neck
  1. Pearls and Pomegranates brings together independent jewelry designers who use recycled and reclaimed materials.

woman wearing wooden sunglasses
  1. Repurposed materials are another way to recycle or reuse materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Solo Eyewear makes a line of sunglasses made from repurposed wood that would make a great gift.

Recycling Tip: Find All-Natural Kids’ Toys

So many kids’ toys are made of plastic. While it’s not always possible to get an eco-friendly version of the most wanted toy this season, there are plenty of toys on the market that are made from all natural materials. Natural materials, while not always recyclable, do break down more naturally once disposed of, making them an infinitely better option than plastic.  

wooden backing set toy
  1. This adorable baking set from KiwiCo is made of wood and the cardboard packaging is part of the set, making it a very eco-friendly gift.

wool frog sock puppet
  1. This wool frog puppet from Cate and Levi is not only all-natural, but it uses reclaimed wool in order to be more sustainable in their production.

wooden tree and hedgehog toy
  1. Imaginative play is easy with these super cute wooden animals from the Holtztiger collection on LittleYoYo.

wooden dinosaur blocks
  1. Upgrade the classic gift of building blocks with one of these eclectic sets from Uncle Goose. They have a wide range of unusual block sets highlighting foreign languages, braille, planets, dinosaurs, and even guitar chords!

beeswax crayons
  1. Let kids get creative with these beeswax crayons instead of crayons with plastic in them.

Recycling Tip: Teach About Recycling

Learning about the recycling process can be very interesting and great way to expose friends and family, young and old, to new sustainable habits.

wooden waste sorting toy with wood tiles
  1. Teach the little ones about recycling with this handmade wooden recycling game set.

cover of a recycle craft book for kids
  1. Get kids doing their own recycling projects with recycling craft books.

tin can robot
  1. Teach about the importance of recycling while allowing kids to be creative with this tin can robot kit.

cover of a recycling book for adults
  1. Can I Recycle This by Jennie Rommer is an informative book for adults that explains the recycling process and gives tips on how to reduce waste.

home composting kit advertisement
  1. Let’s not forget about recycling food waste by composting. Get a family member started with an easy home composting kit as an eco-friendly gift.

Recycling Tip: Choose Sustainable Stocking Stuffers

Small little eco-friendly items are great for adding to stockings during the holidays. Check out these ideas.

beeswax fire starter sticks
  1. Give the gift of warmth this holiday with all natural beeswax fire starter sticks. Perfect for a stocking stuffer!

eco-friendly lip balm with cardboard packaging
  1. An eco-friendly lip balm with cardboard packaging is just the right size to add to any stocking this season.

playing cards made of recycled cardboard
  1. This deck of cards made from recycled materials is sleek and small for a stocking.

earrings made from ocean plastics
  1. This jewelry company makes unique items from ocean plastics that were left behind as pollutants. Add a nice pair of ocean plastic earrings to someone’s stocking this year.

three colors of socks
  1. Socks make great stocking stuffers, so why not give these cute colorful socks made from 100% recycled content by Recover Brands.

Recycling Tip: Replace Single-Use Plastics

Giving a reusable item that can replace a single-use plastic item is a great way to get more people involved in becoming more eco-friendly.

variety of patterned beeswax wraps
  1. If you’re sick of friends using plastic wrap, gift them a set of all-natural beeswax wraps as a reusable alternative. They come in a variety of cute patterns.

personalized photo waterbottle
  1. Personalize a reusable water bottle with your loved one’s pictures on Shutterfly.

tote bag with saying on it
  1. Give someone a laugh with a funny cotton reusable bag. Think of all the plastic waste you’ll help them avoid.

reusable paper towel gift set
  1. Give the eco-friendly gift of reusable paper towels with these decorative cloth sets.

zero waste starter kit
  1. Zero waste starter kits are a wonderful way to introduce your loved ones to the world of reusable items.

Recycling Tip: Use Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap

Wrapping paper and gift bags are pretty, but it is important to make sure these items can either be reused or recycled. Only wrapping paper that is 100% paper is recyclable. Shiny paper, coated paper, or glittery paper is not usually accepted for recycling. Instead of wrapping, try giving your gift in a package that can be a gift itself!

Furoshiki cloth gift wrap
  1. The Japanese practice of cloth gift wrapping, called Furoshiki, has been gaining popularity in North America due to it’s sustainability. Use these cloth wrappings from Lush again and again instead of disposing of them.

gift wrapped in an old map with ribbon
  1. Use recyclable old newspaper or maps to wrap your gifts instead of the shiny wrapping papers. You can spruce it up with some bits of nature such as a flower too.

three stacking storage boxes
  1. Pick up an appealing reusable storage container to place the gift in. That way they can use the container too. It’s a gift in and of itself.

patterned fabric baskets
  1. Pick up a patterned fabric basket to place your gift in. Your loved one can reuse it around the house.

flower pot with ribbon
  1. Place your gift in a flowerpot with some decorative ribbon or twine so that the recipient can use it to plant something in the spring.

Recycling Tip: Make Memories, Not Waste

While handing something over is a holiday tradition, sometimes the best gifts aren’t things. Try giving them an experience that they will enjoy.

woman looking at paintings in an art museum
  1. Buy a yearly membership for your loved one to their favorite museum.

ballerina on stage
  1. Get them tickets to their favorite sporting event, movie, ballet, concert, etc..

screenshot of a craft course from Domestika
  1. Enroll your crafty friend or family member in an online course for them to learn a new artistic skill on Domestika.  

rainbow hot air balloon
  1. Find tons of experience gift cards from cruises to skydiving on Virgin Experience Gifts.

Beach resort with yellow towels by the pool
  1. Book a weekend getaway for your friend or family member to relax.

Remember to make eco-friendly gift choices this holiday season! And Happy Holidays from Recycle Coach!