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Leon Kaye headshot

Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) Deserves a Thoughtful Gift. Here Are a Few Sustainable Ideas.

This guide may be a little late for Mother’s Day, but in any event, we figure these sustainable gift suggestions could work for just about any occasion.
By Leon Kaye
Mother’s Day

We might be a little late for Mother’s Day (especially since we're often shipping our gifts), but Father’s Day isn’t too far off, and in any event, these Mother’s Day gift ideas could really work for just about any occasion.

For those who want to send something on the thoughtful side but wish to be somewhat responsible with the environment and social impact in mind, we offer a few ideas. And yes, some out there may slap your wrists for the shipping involved (i.e., over the carbon footprint), but we think these companies present some happy exceptions. Read on, and Happy Mother's Day (and next month, Father's Day!)

Bouqs offers countless color pops of joy

We’ve long been a fan this Southern California company, which has been changing how flowers are sourced, sold and delivered for several years. Bouqs, based in Southern California, promises to deliver flowers directly from farms in regions such as South America. Customers can visit the company’s site and select a bouquet, and recipients will receive those arrangements relatively quickly. Less storage time means less waste - as much as 40 percent of all flowers marketed in the U.S. end up never sold. The company has claimed its flower farming partners can now gain access to benefits such as day care, health care and education for its employees - while practicing “sustainable, eco-friendly farming.” As far as flowers go, this is about as farm-to-table as you can get. Currently, one line of flowers will contribute funds to Campaign Zero to fight police brutality.

Summer Love from Bouqs is one option for Mother's Day
Summer Love from Bouqs is one option for Mother's Day (Image credit: Bouqs)

Orchids grown responsibly

California’s central coast (from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz counties) is host to the perfect climate for growing many varieties of flowers. Westerlay Orchids, based in the small seaside town of Carpinteria, is a third-generation family business that excels in raising Orchidaceae. If you happen to live on the west coast, Westerlay’s orchids are available at some supermarkets, or you can arrange online to have mom or dad receive a box. The company has it down when it comes to shipping them skillfully without overdoing the packaging. Further, Westerlay has invested in a bevy of sustainable farming practices and technologies. FYI: Orchids have a small footprint when it comes to care - we’re talking a monthly rinse of the roots and a few ice cubes each week. Easy-peasy.

Who wouldn't smile at the thought of orchids arriving at their door for Mother's Day? (Image credit: Leon Kaye)
Who wouldn't smile at the thought of orchids arriving at their door for Mother's Day? (Image credit: Leon Kaye)

Greyston Bakery

Looking for an indulgence with a social mission? Greyston Bakery has for years been churning out brownies and blondies in Yonkers, New York, and the company includes Ben & Jerry’s amongst its customers. Greyston has gone above and beyond its mission of employing the last hired and first fired to bake its brownies. Three years ago, the company launched the eponymous Center for Open Hiring, a space where business leaders can learn more about the “open hiring” human resources model. You can send anyone a box, and there are vegan options, too. Be sure to get on Greyston’s email list – they do have sweet promos from time to time, including one as of press time for this year's Mother’s Day.

Greyston Bakery offers a bevy of care packages
Greyston Bakery offers a bevy of care packages if you wish to share one with social purpose (Image credit: Greyston Bakery)

Make Mother’s Day a wild one with Wild Friends Foods

Is supporting women-owned businesses important to you, your parents, or considering the reality of this economy, just about anyone? Wild Friends Foods and its line of nut butters check many boxes: It’s a certified B-Corp, runs its own 1 percent give-back program and says it sources responsibly for its ingredients, whether they are nuts, coconut, cacao or honey. If love means getting a 6-pack of nut butters in the mail, then you’ll score points with a Wild Friends order: plus, spend $49 bucks or more and the shipping free. The chocolate coconut peanut butter is to die and slather for, not necessarily in that order.

Which is our favorite Wild Friends nut butter? The answer is Yes!
Which is our favorite Wild Friends nut butter? The answer is Yes! (Image credit: Wild Friends Foods)

Reef-friendly sunscreen

He or she, or them, may not be able to find a rental car this summer, so depending on how that industry shakes out, staycations could still be the norm this year for us and many of our parents But whether the summer plans call for Maui, Montserrat, Melbourne, Montevideo or Making Do in the Backyard, it’s about time to stock up on sunscreen. And with all the research suggesting many sunscreen ingredients are harmful to marine life such as coral (Hawaiʻi has already banned some ingredients), personal care and beauty product companies are rolling out more “reef-friendly” sunscreens. The retailer Ulta is only one example. Oh, and if your mom, dad or you are fearful as Alexis Rose of Schitt’s Creek has been of being or “moving to a place that doesn't have a Sephora for literally 2,700 miles,” that chain offers several options, too.

Retailers including Ulta offer reef-friendly sunscreens in-store and online
Retailers including Ulta offer reef-friendly sunscreens in-store and online (Image credit: Ulta)

Whimsy adult coloring books that give a lift to talented artists

Speaking of Schitt’s Creek (we don’t indulge in pettifogging), if mom or dad is looking for something different and relaxing to do by the pool or during a Zoom meeting in which they fast lost interest, why not consider adult coloring books? We like the bundles of pencils and stencils from Pop Colors, including this Rosebud Motel-themed one in case you wanted to do your own kaleidoscopic version of Moira Rose’s Versace Pope outfit that Catherine O’Hara wore in the series finale. The “Fold in the Cheese Orange” and “Bébé Blue” are enough to inspire any fan of the show to whip out the credit card without any inner cogitations. The Oregon-based company is only one example of how we can support the creative community, which has been hit hard during the global pandemic. So in the event you lack any local access to an apothecary, check out Pop Colors' fun product lines. Other themes include bundles of pencils and books like "Game of Tones" and "Stranger Colors."

For Mother's Day, we give a vociferous and clangorous YES to this Schitt's Creek coloring book from Pop Color
For Mother's Day, we give a vociferous and clangorous YES to this Schitt's Creek coloring book from Pop Color (Image credit: Leon Kaye)

“Eko-friendly” yoga mats

There’s a reason or two why getting into a Lulu Lemon during the pandemic was about as easy as sneaking into Fort Knox. But soon, soon many of us will be able to resume our practices again. So, do you want mom or dad to once again launch into the downward dog without you risking a trip to the doghouse with the wrong gift? Well, Manduka has a line of yoga mats that the company says are manufactured responsibly – as in, rubber not harvested from the Amazon region and after manufacturing, the mats are softened with foaming agents that aren’t environmentally destructive. Options include a travel size if your parent(s) can indeed score a rental car later this summer. Again, Happy Mother's Day!

Manduka offers a wide range of eco-friendly yoga mats and accessories
Manduka offers a wide range of eco-friendly yoga mats and accessories.

Image credit: Sai de Silva/Unsplash

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye