10 Eco-friendly gift ideas for the holidays (that don’t break the bank!)

The holiday season is upon us and that means that it is time to start thinking about gift ideas for all of those that are important to us: family, friends, and the planet.  This list came after talking with two friends who haven’t yet taken any steps towards being environmentally conscious but had every desire to.

It was during a visit to the Netherlands to visit some friends that I was confronted by a hard truth of being eco-friendly.  Of course, I packed all of my sustainable and environmentally friendly swaps and when I was talking to the friend I was visiting–a recently graduated yet still underemployed biologist with a very strict budget–and she sighed and looked at my stuff and said with sadness ‘you really have to be rich to be an environmentalist.’  Unfortunately, this is a sad truth. The upfront cost for something that lasts longer is something that those with very tight budgets just can’t afford.

A few days later, I was talking to a different friend (one who is not an environmentalist) and he had an open discussion with me about the things that I do regularly to lower my impact on the environment.  He said ‘I think most people would be willing to make these changes if they knew about these options.’ And after thinking about it, this made sense to me. The main movement in Korea the last year has been with banning plastic bags so as a result, most of the population is aware of plastic bags as a problem.  But a lot of people don’t see the multitude of other places that plastic can be reduced.  

And so, this list was born!  I’ve compiled a list of ten small gift ideas that are easy for non-environmentalists to start becoming more environmentally conscious.  Also, these are great gifts to put in as stocking stuffers for those friends who want to be environmentally friendly but don’t have the budget for it.  

These biodegradable and compostable kitchen sponges are a great replacement for that nasty plastic kitchen sponge!  Use it as you normally use your sponge and then toss it in with your other compostables.  The natural plant-based fibers provide all the ‘scrubby’ you need to get all the burned gunk off of your pots and pans too!

Swapping from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush is seriously one of the simplest but most effective swaps for those friends and family members who are reluctant to make any changes (or as I like to call them ‘budding environmentalists’).  Just imagine this: every year, you use at least two toothbrushes. Plastic toothbrushes never degrade. So do the math to figure out how many toothbrushes you would use in your lifetime that would never degrade. Now multiply that for every person in your family.  Holy cow, I just about had a heart attack…..*runs to buy everyone in my family a lifetime supply of bamboo toothbrushes*

These go hand-in-hand with the bamboo toothbrushes.  Normal tubes of toothpaste cannot be recycled and some people would rather choose the convenience of something easily purchased than making their own environmentally-friendly toothpaste.  These tablets are easy to use and the bottle is recyclable. As a bonus, because the toothpaste is in pill form, you can bring them in your carry-on the next time you travel!

I only recently made the swap to beeswax wraps and I am so sad that it took me so long!  I adore mine so much and I know that once the receiver has gotten used to them, they will love the wraps too! These wraps basically eliminate the need for plastic wrap and can be used to pack snacks or leftovers.  They are easy to clean as well.

A lot of people are so nervous about making the switch to safety razors because they are worried about cutting themselves.  I get it, I really do. I’ve actually written two posts on this type of razor so if you want to know the reason why I made the switch (and why you should too!), check out that post here.  If you want to read my review with pros and cons of the safety razor, you can read that here.


According to this article, 6 million tons of single use plastics are thrown out each year.  This includes plastic eating utensils that come from takeout or places like sports center concession stands.  I know that my siblings are running around with their kids to various sporting events and using up tons of plastic cutlery.  We can all work on reducing that by carrying–and gifting–travel cutlery sets. They come in bamboo or stainless steel versions so you can choose what works best for you and yours.  

Swapping single-use plastic straws for reusable straws was actually one of the first swaps that I made in my green journey.  There are so many different options to choose from (glass, stainless steel, bamboo, and paper are all options to choose from).  With so many options, there really is no excuse for using single-use straws ever again!

These are great options for the coffee lover in your life!  So many people worldwide drink coffee daily or even multiple times a day–this often creates waste.  According to this article, 9 billion Keurig cups ended up in landfills last year alone.  That is 9 billion unrecyclable, non-biodegradable K-cups just last year.  That alone gives me the motivation to give reusable coffee goods to my loved ones.  

I’ll never forgive the person that came up with the idea for putting produce into a plastic bag just to get it home.  Think about the last time you went to the supermarket; how many different plastic produce bags did you see used? And now consider that all of those bags will never degrade.  Ever. Worried that the bags will make you pay extra for your produce? Never fear! These mesh produce bags even come with the tare weight so the cashier can make sure you charged the right amount.  

These are a great gift for a parent or a sibling with a family.  The cotton pads are soft and can be used for any kind of beauty and health application.  They can be used to remove makeup, apply lotions or creams, remove nail polishes, and for face cleaners and cleansers.  They are also great for traveling too! And after you are finished using them, just pop them into the mesh bag that is included and throw them into the wash with the rest of your clothes.  

So there you have it!  Hopefully you are able to find a few things to gift to your loved ones that is suitable for their lifestyle that also helps the planet.  

What gifts from this list are on your wishlist?  Which items will you be gifting to your loved ones?  Comment below!


To find out more about what I use for sustainable living or blogging, check out my resources page.



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