Whether you're wishing your loved ones good tidings in person or from afar, we've got you covered with our sustainable holiday gift guide. From zero-waste options to gifts that give back, check off your list with these choices that are big on cheer but light on impact.
As we say each year, it's hard to find a more sustainable holiday gift than something that already exists and might otherwise go to waste. Fortunately for waste-free shoppers around the world, a host of top brands are diving into re-commerce and making it easier than ever to shop secondhand without sacrificing style. Check out REI and Patagonia for outdoor gear or brands like The North Face and Eileen Fisher for clothing and outerwear worthy of a second life. Check out more of our favorite re-commerce shops here.
If you can't buy used, buy local. Most small businesses are still struggling amidst the pandemic, and your support can help them stick around. Even if you're still avoiding in-person shopping, sources like Google Maps and Yelp make it a breeze to find nearby mom-and-pops with online shopping options. To support Black-owned businesses, which have been particularly hard hit, directories like We Buy Black, Official Black Wall Street and EatOkra can help guide your way. And don't forget restaurants! Purchasing gift certificates can help your favorite eateries and bars weather the storm and remain part of your community.
Gift the nature-lovers and art aficionados on your list with this practical and sustainable holiday gift that gives back. Sales of this eye-catching calendar, made from certified sustainable paper and featuring art from Wyatt Hersey of Chico, California, go to support the National Parks Conservation Association. Parks Project also sells a bunch of other cool sustainable holiday gift options like puzzles, scented candles and outdoor gear featuring the work of up-and-coming artists and benefiting various organizations that work to protect public lands.
These smart charging docks for iPhones, Apple watches and Android devices are handmade from responsibly sourced wood, and this Polish brand plants a tree for every purchase in partnership with One Tree Planted. It also sells handcrafted laptop sleeves, cases for phones and AirPods, and sleek work-from-home desks that are sure to make your favorite techie smile.
Boost up your favorite foodie's sustainability chops with this cult favorite cutting board from Material Kitchen. With a modern minimal design made from recycled plastic and renewable sugarcane, the reBoard became a fast social media favorite — and it's easy to see why.
New York City-based Material regularly gives back to hunger relief organizations, and this year 50 percent of the profits from two reBoard colors (a peachy nude called To Pó-Po with Love and a rich green called Reimagine Justice) will support two awesome local organizations: Heart of Dinner, a nonprofit meal delivery service for East Asian elders, and Drive Change, which trains formerly incarcerated young people for jobs in the food and hospitality industry.
Brooklyn-based Ojas & Woo is an eco-friendly, vegan, and zero-waste scent shop that collaborates with artists and artisans from across the U.S. The brand's small-batch scented candles feature wood wicks, coconut apricot wax, and "nice, natural smells," says our writer who gave them a try in her home this year. The best part is: When the candle is used up, your favorite luxury-lover can send the glass jar back to be refilled at a steep discount compared to the original sticker price.
This German brand bases its supply chain around a network of around 2,000 fishermen and women in Java, Indonesia, who often get plastic caught in their fishing nets. GOT BAG uses 3.3 to 9.9 pounds of this plastic "bycatch" to produce each of its stylish and functional carry-alls, which range from laptop sleeves up to roll-top travel backpacks. I've been testing out the $99 daypack (pictured above) for the past year, and with a seamless transition from backpack to briefcase and band that easily slips over the handle of rollaway luggage, it's perfect for commuting and traveling alike.
It can be tempting to gift your favorite skincare addict with the latest viral product you saw on social media, but let's be real: Chances are you don't know enough about another person's skin to choose what's best, and if it doesn't work for them, your well-intentioned gift may be destined for the garbage.
Instead of adding to the potential waste stream, consider a clever way to cut it down to size, like this reusable silicone sheet mask from the Honest Company. The mask works to lock in any essence, serum, cream or oil, and it can be washed and reused after each use for an effective nightly treatment without the waste.
This digital-only cookbook from Penguin Random House includes never-before-seen recipes from celebrity chefs like Ina Garten and Bobby Flay, and all proceeds go to support the Restaurant Workers' COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which provides direct crisis relief to restaurant workers, supports nonprofits serving restaurant workers in crisis, and gives out interest-free loans to help restaurants get back up and running.
This nude nail color with a cause is a good look for any beauty-lovers on your list. All profits from this universally flattering shade from sustainable startup brand J. Hannah are donated to an evolving roster of human rights organizations. This season's recipient is Jane's Due Process, which helps young people in Texas access abortions and birth control.
Entrepreneur Bob Dalton founded Sackcloth & Ashes after his mother found herself homeless in 2013. The brand donates one blanket to a homeless shelter for each one sold, and it's on a mission to "blanket the United States" by donating 1 million blankets by its 10-year anniversary in 2024.
This throw is one of five new designs made in collaboration with National Geographic and inspired by the diverse topography of planet Earth. Like all blankets from the brand, it's made from recycled fibers by workers earning fair wages, and as an added bonus a portion of the proceeds from this collection go to support the nonprofit National Geographic Society.
This lovely drop necklace is designed to train young women who have escaped human trafficking with introductory jewelry-making skills, and all proceeds go to benefit the brand's nonprofit, International Sanctuary, which provides women artisans with fair wages, education and healthcare as they look to rebuild their lives. For other styles to choose from, check out the One Day of Hope line, which is made up entirely of "training pieces" made by women who have recently arrived at one of the nonprofit's sanctuaries.
Friends don't let friends have dry, cracked COVID hands. If someone on your list is going through it, reach for this gentle soap bar set from Hand in Hand, which is free of palm oil and made with fair trade, organic and vegan ingredients. The brand provides soap and clean water to children in need with every purchase, benefiting communities in over 20 countries to date. (Also available in fragrance-free.)
If food is your go-to gift, consider swapping out your standbys for a gift package from one of 3p's favorite socially conscious brands. Operating under the motto "jobs not jails," Homeboy Industries offers employment, education, and other services to former gang members after they are released from prison. Having served well over 100,000 people in its home city of Los Angeles since 1986, it now powers the Global Homeboy Network of more than 400 organizations committed to giving formerly incarcerated people a second chance.
Homeboy's selection of gift packages include coffee, snacks, preserves and baked goods, and all proceeds support its re-entry programs.
Greyson Bakery is another perennial favorite among the TriplePundit team. The brand's brownies are tasty enough to make an appearance in Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors like Half Baked, and the social enterprise is also a trailblazer for open hiring. Having built its team without interviews, job applications or background checks, Greyston is now primarily staffed by people with criminal justice histories, as well as those experiencing homelessness, substance abuse issues or who, for whatever reason, have trouble finding steady work.
From classics like brownies and blondies to creative flavors like snickerdoodle and cinnamon roll, these socially conscious treats are sure to please any sweet tooth on your list. (And yes, they have vegan options!)
Image credit: asife/Adobe Stock and Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash
Mary Mazzoni has reported on sustainability in business for over a decade and now serves as managing editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of brands and organizations on sustainability storytelling. Along with 3p, Mary's recent work can be found in publications like Conscious Company, Salon and Vice's Motherboard. She also works with nonprofits on media projects, including the women's entrepreneurship coaching organization Street Business School. She is an alumna of Temple University in Philadelphia and lives in the city with her partner and two spoiled dogs.