While the holiday season is a special time of year, it can also be an incredibly wasteful one. Shoppers accumulate countless plastic bags while buying presents and groceries for gatherings, and then there’s the gift-giving aftermath of ribbons, bows and wrapping paper (stay away from glittery and metallic papers, which can’t be recycled). There are also the gifts themselves to consider — many items, including those made from plastics and other harmful synthetic materials, will go unused and wind up in landfills.
So what’s an eco-conscious shopper to do? In addition to carrying reusable bags and choosing recyclable wrappings, make a point to buy sustainable gifts for loved ones. From kids toys to cosmetics to that obligatory pair of socks, you can find eco-friendly alternatives for most products on your list. To get you started, we’ve rounded up 10 great sustainable gifts that you will feel good about giving this year. Even better, they’re all under $50!
1. Green Toys Rescue Boat & Helicopter ($34.99)
Boys and girls will love using their imaginations to operate this fun toy set, made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic. The helicopter and rescue boat — and accompanying bear pilot and duck captain — are also designed to float in the bathtub! Green Toys packages all of their products in recyclable cardboard boxes printed with Earth-friendly soy inks.
2. S’well Bottle ($25 and up)
Gift recipients of all ages will be happy to ditch single-use plastic water bottles when they receive sleek, easy-to-carry S’well designs. These BPA-free reusable bottles come in fashionable patterns and colors, are made of high-grade stainless steel, and keep drinks cold for 24 hours (or hot for 12).
3. LUSH Bath Bombs ($4.95 and up)
Need a stocking stuffer? You can’t go wrong with one of LUSH’s fizzy bath bombs, made with natural ingredients and safe synthetics — and never tested on animals. Plus, there are fun holiday picks, from rose-infused Holey Night (pictured) to cola-scented Santa Bomb Bombs.
4. Eco-Dough ($16)
This aptly named sculpting dough is handmade from natural ingredients like banana fiber. The colors are all-natural, too: It’s dyed using real fruits and vegetables, including beets, carrots, purple sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
5. ECOlunchbox ($30)
Nothing wrong with a practical gift. This three-in-one nesting lunchbox is compact and convenient, not to mention perfect for the bento trend. The small, medium and large containers are made from food-grade stainless steel and can be used separately or locked together.
6. Anthropologie Insulated Lunch Sack ($22)
If you’re looking for a more playful lunch carrier for kids, try this mermaid print one. It’s super durable and easy to wipe clean if there’s a spill inside.
7. Osom Brand Socks ($16)
Not all socks are created equally. Osom Brand uses upcycled thread from discarded clothes to make theirs, thus preventing more waste from piling into landfills. The socks are also manufactured in a solar panel-powered facility!
8. “The Mighties” Farmacy kit ($45)
Sustainable cosmetics can be tricky, but you can trust Farmacy. The company creates safe, natural formulas using ingredients grown locally at organic farms, and their packaging is made with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper. This antioxidant-packed hydration kit features products for day and night skin pampering.
Don’t forget your furry friends! Even Fido can be eco-friendly when he plays with this durable tug toy, stuffed with recycled fiberfill and finished with a recycled cotton yarn rope.
10. Dropps Household Bundles ($20 and up)
Here’s a gift that keeps giving through the new year! Dropps Household Bundles, available in fragrance-free or scented options, make tidying up after the holidays simple and eco-friendly. Packed with laundry and dishwasher detergent pods, they’re a great gift for busy families or new parents who are constantly cycling through washes.