• Cut The Crap

15 Sustainable Gift Ideas For 2020

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

The holiday season every year (at least for me) consists of decorating, baking, shopping, and .....more shopping! I love giving gifts to people in any form, mostly because making them personal and surprising people that I am thankful for makes my heart happy.


Many of us who are on this sustainable journey find ourselves surrounded with family and friends who do not necessarily understand or follow some of the eco-concious choices that we make. I take gifting people very seriously as a chance to show them things that I care about that I think they would love if they were exposed to it! This past year every gift I have given has been a sustainable "kit" tailored to each of my friends or family member, and it has inspired so many sustainable swaps along the way.


I hope that this list of my top 15 sustainable gift ideas for this (crazy as heck) 2020 will inspire you during your holiday season of gifting.


Check out last week's article, "Happy Sustainable Holidays" for more sustainable holiday ideas!




1. Gift An Experience!


Gifting experiences like classes, tickets to shows, movie tickets, etc are one of my favorite ways to personalize gifts, and while Covid-19 makes it so there are less options to get out, there are still experiences you can find online!


Masterclasses are a great gift for almost every single person, you can gift someone a music lesson, a cooking class, a language class, and so much more! The Adventure Book Challenge is also a great way to get out of your usual routine and try new adventures that can be completed anywhere! Alternatively, you could make those cute personal coupon books that we have all seen where you offer up services like 2 free nights of babysitting, a night where you cook dinner, a coffee date, etc. This is where you get creative and personalize it towards your loved one!


2. Find A Local Vendor To Support


Shopping local is a great way to support your community while having a smaller carbon footprint. In just the cities around me, there are local candle makers, breweries, vineyards, zero waste shops with locally made goods, and more. It took a bit of digging and searching around to find all of these little gems, but I can guarantee you will be surprised if you take a bit of time to look for local artists, crafters, or shops near where you live.


3. Sustainable Gift Boxes


Sustainable gift boxes are great for friends and family who are interested in making sustainable changes, but have no idea where to start. There are starter kits for hair care, to-go kits, pet kits, and so much more. I personally like to create my own gift kits for friends, but these are so handy and come in sustainable/non-plastic packaging! Below are some of the coolest kits I saw and would want as a gift:


Earth Hero Sustainable Starter Kits


Tare Market Zero Waste Kit (There are a wide variety of kits put together by this local MN company, and they ship all over the US)


4. Ethically And Sustainably Made Socks That Give Back:


Conscious Step Socks is a sustainable and transparent sock company with an amazing mission. Their socks are made from clean, organic cotton by empowered producers in safe and fair working conditions. You get to personally choose the organization that the purchase of your socks will support, which in my opinion is such a unique addition to an already cool and sustainable gift!


5. Reusable Bags (produce bags, grocery bags, Stasher bags)


If you're reading this article, you most likely are like me and have stashes of reusable bags in your home. This means you can also attest to the fact that reusable bags are SO useful, cute, and their handles don't break as you try and hustle from your car to your front step. Not only are reusable grocery and produce bags a useful, affordable, and cute gift, they can be a great first step towards making sustainable changes in your daily habits.


Reusable Zip-Loc bags are a game changer for me personally, so I like to gift friends at least 1 so that they have it as an option to bring snacks on the go. Check out this link to where I found affordable and durable bags, unfortunately it is on Amazon so if anyone finds another affordable option compared to Stasher bags please reach out!


6. Plant-Based Cookbook To Inspire Ideas


As a Conservation Biology major, I have learned and talked a lot about the implications of animal agriculture on the climate and have come to the conclusion (like many other scientists) that a dramatic decrease in animal consumption is required for sustainable consumption around the world. One great way to contribute to this necessary goal is to incorporate a few plant-based meals into your week, or go full in and adopt a vegetarian/vegan diet.


My two current favorite cookbooks have recipes that I cook for all of my carnivorous family and I have not had a single negative review yet!


Deliciously Ella: The Plant Based Cookbook

Speedy Bosh: Quick, Easy, All Plants


7. Gift An Audiobook Membership That Supports Local Bookstores!


Audiobooks are zero-waste, and are a huge help with passing this 2020 quarantine time. I have been using the time to educate myself on environmental racism, police reform, indigenous conservation, and permafrost. Libro.fm partners with independent bookstores, which means that they have a huge selection of audiobooks, curated collections and also recommendations to help you find titles that you’ll enjoy. You can gift 1, 3, 6, and 12-month memberships by clicking here.



8. HiBar Shampoo and Conditioner


This is a shameless Minnesota company plug because their bars are amazing and the most highly reviewed shampoo/conditioner bars out there right now. I always get these as gifts for friends and family because of how immediately comparable they are to *typical* liquid shampoo or conditioner, and it has made every one of them a convert! There are quite a few different scents and options for hair, click here to check out their site directly.


9. Gift a DIY Natural Tie-Dying Kit


I will admit that I am so excited to get this as a gift because it is a unique piece of art that will be a talking point for some great sustainable conversations. There also is a lot of natural dye powder that comes with the kits, so multiple creations can be made! Check out the kits here. I am ordering one for myself just to experiment, so I will update with photos and the process.


10. Pela Case


I am just throwing this out there because I just got my new case today, and I am obsessed (again). Pela cases are seriously the best phone case I have ever owned because they are sustainable, cute, and durable! Pela cases can be composted in both industrial and backyard compost, as it is made from all plant materials. They currently are having sales on their cases, and you get a free extra case with every purchase right now! My last case just finished it's life, so I will be burying it in my backyard garden when it decides to stop snowing here in Minnesota. Click here to shop!


11. Bird House/Bee Hotel/Bat House For A Backyard


This may only be a cute idea to me as a Conservation Biologist, but I love observing wildlife in my yard. If you do a simple google search for any of these options, there are plenty of Etsy sellers, businesses, and even local vendors (at least for me) that build these amazing and beautiful homes for our wildlife friends. If you are handy or crafty, why not try crafting one of these? My goal for the summer is to build bee hotels to give to friends and family for their backyards, check out this article to see how easy it is to make bee hotels!


12. Shopping For A Student In Your Life?


Being a student is difficult enough as is, but throw in this strange year of digital learning and you have a very stressful year. I may be a little strange, but I LOVE getting things for my office and for school. This year I stocked up on decomposition notebooks and a Rocketbook, which is a reusable notebook that you can use over and over again. Students also just need daily essentials, like a reusable cotton swab, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable mugs, and more! Check out our "Going Back To School Sustainably" article for more ideas!


13. Don't Forget About Your Furry Friends!


Common pet toys can be made with plastics, synthetic plastic rope, and chemically dyed or flavored. EarthHero has a huge selection of sustainable and really interesting pet toys and accessories that aren't full of unnecessary plastics or harmful chemicals. I am someone who believes in getting their pet presents, so their stocking stuffers will be sustainable and safe! Start exploring here.


14. Who Doesn't Love Slippers?


These (FLOOFY) slippers are made from 100% recycled faux fur, are affordable, and are cute as heck! Check out Madwell's Recycled Shop for other recycled clothing and footwear! I seriously don't know anyone who would be upset with a pair of really comfortable slippers, so this is a great gift for everyone no matter if they care about sustainability or not.


15. Do You Know A Pasta Fanatic?


One of my personal favorite sustainable swaps that I have been experimenting with is making my own pasta for dishes! As someone who eats a plant based diet, pasta is a MUST in my house and I feel so accomplished now that I can reduce my waste while having delicious handmade food. Consider gifting a pasta making machine, bread making machine, yogurt machine, etc to inspire someone in your life to go back to the basics and make food from scratch again!


Bonus Eco-Action: Gift A Membership To An Environmental Group or Organization.


This results in exclusive updates on environmental news, conferences, presentations and products. It also allows the gift recipient to contribute to making a larger difference simply by receiving a gift for the holidays.

Check out the New Jersey Environmental Lobby's Membership here. For just $20, you get a lifetime membership to this amazing group of citizens fighting for change.


Another interesting opportunity is with the Environmental Defense Fund. Choose an amount to donate, and you can send gifts equaling that amount to your loved one! Not only does their gift donate to a great cause, but they get some fun gifts along with it.



Thank you for taking the time to explore these sustainable gift ideas, we appreciate you wanting to Cut The Crap! Please share your own sustainable gifting ideas with us through our contact form on the About Us page, we would love to feature some more ideas on our social media.


Happy Holidays!

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