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Mary Mazzoni headshot

TriplePundit's Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide for 2023

From our favorite sustainable and socially conscious brands to advice on buying used and shopping local, we love sharing our top picks for sustainable holiday gifts with our community every year. Check out our 2023 favorites.
By Mary Mazzoni
woman wrapping gifts with handmade wrapping paper - sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide

(Image: asife/Adobe Stock)

It's that time of year again! From our favorite sustainable and socially conscious brands to advice on buying used and shopping local, we love sharing our top picks for sustainable holiday gifts with our community every year. Read on for our 2023 favorites, which can all ship in time for the holidays. 

Consider buying used for the most sustainable holiday gifts

We love learning more about socially conscious brands and the impact they have around the world, but at the end of the day, the most sustainable holiday gifts you can find are items that already exist and may otherwise go to waste. And before you get hung up on giving your loved ones a dusty item from a thrift store shelf, more than 90 percent of Americans say they'd be open to receiving a secondhand gift for the holidays, according to 2022 polling from Morning Consult and the online secondhand retailer Poshmark

And for good reason: Thrift stores are bursting at the seams with lightly-used items that are ready for a second life, and a growing collection of retailers now host their own resale shops featuring pre-owned items that are still of high quality. Head to 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 for sustainable holiday gifts that reduce waste. 

Shop locally for sustainable holiday gifts that support small businesses near you

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our cities and towns, and many are still struggling to build back from the pandemic. Your patronage this holiday season can help your favorite mom-and-pops stay open into the new year and beyond — making local wares some of the most sustainable holiday gifts out there.

Standby apps like Google Maps and Yelp can help you find small businesses in your community that could use your support, and a growing number of apps and websites also catalog small businesses owned by women and minority entrepreneurs — which were among the hardest hit during the pandemic. Check out We Buy Black and EatOkra to discover local Black-owned businesses, Sol-Latino for finding Latino-owned businesses, the Pride App for finding LGBTQ-owned businesses, and Oya to find women-owned businesses. 

Catalina Straps - bags and straps made by women artisans - sustainable holiday gifts
Images courtesy of Catalina Straps

Bag with many possibilities from Catalina Straps

Catalina Straps is all about bringing to the beauty of Indigenous artistry to the global marketplace. Its premium leather bags are handmade by women artists in Bogota, Colombia. They're designed to be mixed and matched with the brand's patterned straps, made by women artisans from the Wayuu community on Colombia's Caribbean coast, to suit any mood and outfit. You can also find colorful straps for carrying yoga mats and reusable water bottles for hands-free errands with a socially conscious twist. 

Along with paying fair wages for its artisans wares, Catalina Straps donates a portion of each purchase to fund local initiatives established by the Wayuu community. The brand is also part of the TriplePundit family: Founder Catalina Tellez Hopkins is married to our colleague David Hopkins, VP of strategic partnerships for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL. 

"Every Catalina Strap purchase contributes to social and environmental causes. We proudly give back by dedicating 10 percent of each purchase to the Wayuu community, the talented artisans who breathe life into our straps," Tellez Hopkins says. "Join us in making a meaningful impact — one stylish adventure at a time.”

Price: Starting at $97

World Central Kitchen cookbook - sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide
Image courtesy of World Central Kitchen

A cookbook that supports humanitarian relief from World Central Kitchen

Michelin-starred chef José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti to bring chefs and volunteers together to provide meals immediately following natural disasters and other crises. 

The nonprofit has moved swiftly to the epicenter of virtually every major disaster since — most recently responding to Hurricane Otis in Acapulco, Mexico, and another deadly earthquake in Afghanistan. It's also on the ground with partners to provide food in both Israel and Gaza and has become the largest food relief organization in war-torn Ukraine. 

The World Central Kitchen Cookbook includes a collection of stories and recipes that reflect the many places the nonprofit has cooked around the world. Famous chefs and local cooks discuss their experiences with humanitarian relief through food, while sharing some of the recipes they served to bring warmth to people in crisis. Some celebrity friends of the nonprofit contributed as well — think: a breakfast taco recipe from former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and a foreword from "The Late Show" host Stephen Colbert. All profits from sale of the cookbook will go to support World Central Kitchen. 

Price: $35

8000Kicks Hemp sneakers for women - sustainable holiday gifts
(Image courtesy of 8000Kicks)​​​

Explorer hemp sneakers from 8000Kicks

8000Kicks makes sneakers, backpacks, and accessories for men and women using unconventional materials that cut down on environmental impact and make great sustainable holiday gifts. The company also pays a living wage and posts the salary it pays manufacturing workers on its website.  

These Explorer sneakers are made from hemp fibers, with a sole made from materials derived from algae blooms. The waterproof sneakers are billed as both durable and comfortable, and they earned the stamp of approval from outdoor-lover and TriplePundit editorial assistant Taylor Haelterman. "Coming from someone who loves a good sneaker, these are very comfortable," she said. "I've actually been rocking them most times I leave the house." 

Price: $129 for women and men

gratitude gift set prosperity candle - sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide
(Image courtesy of Prosperity Candle) ​​

Gratitude gift set from Prosperity Candle

Show appreciation for loved ones, friends and colleagues while supporting employment for women artisans with this gift set from Prosperity Candle. It includes one of the brand's signature hand-poured soy candles scented with essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, along with a fair trade chocolate bar from Divine Chocolate. In a thoughtful touch, this is also a gift that keeps on giving, with a set of gratitude cards featuring quotes on the front and space for notes on the back, so your recipient can also show those close to them that they're appreciated. 

Prosperity's candles are made by women artisans who are building new lives in the U.S. after living as refugees. The company also offers tips for cleaning and reusing candle jars after the scent is used up, giving these sustainable holiday gifts a second or third life long after the new year. 

Price: $42

Infinite Palette Cheekbone Beauty - sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide
Image courtesy of Cheekbone Beauty

Infinite palette from Cheekbone Beauty

Cheekbone Beauty was founded with inclusion and sustainability at the center. Inspired by founder Jenn Harper's Anishinaabe roots, the brand features Indigenous women and other women of color prominently across its marketing and looks toward Indigenous wisdoms to reduce the environmental impact of its vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics line.  

A portion of all sale proceeds are donated to support education for Indigenous youth, and the upstart brand has donated more than $150,000 to various causes since its founding in 2015. “I really wanted to create a brand that highlighted Indigenous faces and gave back to the community,” Harper told TriplePundit's Amy Brown back in April

This magnetic face palette in particular speaks to the brand's push to create more sustainable products. The formulas feature one of Cheekbone's hero sustainability ingredients — cornstarch from organic farming used in place of talc. And when shades are used up, they can be easily replaced with refills at $7 each. The palette includes bronzer, highlighter, blush and contour shades that are meant to flatter a range of skin tons. 

Price: $57

Recycled plastic sunglasses from without — sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide
Image courtesy of Without

Sunglasses made of hard-to-recycle plastics from Without 

You'd never know it, but these wayfarer-inspired shades are made from recycled plastic packaging. In particular, they're made from flexible plastics that are notoriously difficult — and in most markets, impossible — to recycle. Due to its low weight, low cost and high functionality, flexible plastic is used to package almost everything — from bags of snacks or sweets to fresh produce, personal care products, electronic and more. 

Founded by Anish Malpani — brother of 3p contributor Abha Malpani Naismith — the India-based social enterprise Ashaya is on a mission to capture this packaging and put it to a meaningful second use. Ashaya pays waste-pickers a premium for flexible plastic, allowing them to earn a living wage, and uses a patent-pending technology to break the material down for second use. 

These chic unisex sunglasses are the company's first proof-of-concept product, sold through its new brand Without. Each pair of sunglasses is made from the equivalent of five chip packets, according to Ashaya, making them a unique option for sustainable holiday gifts that reduce waste and provide social opportunity. 

Price: Now on sale for $19.17 (usually $42)

Darn Tough hiking socks - sustainable holiday gifts -  sustainable holiday gift guide
Image courtesy of Darn Tough ​​

Hiking and running socks from Darn Tough

Socks may not be the most exciting stocking-stuffer for everyone, but for those who brave the elements to spend time outdoors all year round, the right pair of socks can be downright life-changing.

Just ask our colleague Margie Kuchinski, director of brand and marketing for 3BL, who sported Darn Tough's hiking socks while summiting the 115 highest peaks in the U.S. Northeast. "Darn Tough’s socks have been my go-to hiking socks for many years. The durability and comfort are unrivaled," she says. "Perhaps the best testament to their quality is the fact that I haven't had to purchase a new pair of socks in almost seven years." 

Darn Tough says its made-in-Vermont socks are "unconditionally guaranteed for life," and it posts detailed information about each material it uses on its website. "If you’re looking for socks that will last you for hundreds of miles and a company that is committed to keeping textiles out of the landfill, look no further," Kuchinski says. 

Running socks start at $18 for women and men

Hiking socks start at $25 for women and men and $18 for kids

Peanuts x Parks Project Throw — sustainable holiday gifts
Image courtesy of Parks Project 

Throw blanket from Peanuts x Parks Project 

Those obsessed with all things "Peanuts" may remember that Snoopy the dog was a heck of an outdoor fan who loved camping and leading the fictional Beagle Scouts. So, it makes sense that the iconic creation of American cartoonist Charles Schulz would be raising funds to support public lands this holiday season. 

Parks Project is a social enterprise that works with U.S. National Parks to support projects like wildlife conservation, research and educational youth experiences, donating more than $2.5 million since 2014. This throw in particular is made from organic cotton and is perfect for indoor or outdoor use. You'll also find a bunch of other cool sustainable holiday gifts like puzzles, scented candles and a seasonal calendar featuring the work of up-and-coming artists in Parks Project's shop. 

Price: $110

solar lantern and phone charger - sustainable holiday gifts
Image courtesy of Solight Design

QWNN solar lantern and phone charging bank from Solight Design 

Finally, a way to charge your phone with the sun that doesn't look straight out of a sci-fi film. The unique origami design makes this solar lantern and phone charger both eye-catching and easy to fold up and carry. It looks nice against a window for home solar charging and is also perfect for camping, trekking and time outdoors. With 10 hours of sunlight, it can provide up to 150 hours of light from the lamp and up to two full charges on a smartphone. 

Price: Now on sale for $77 (usually $110)

gentoo Penguin plush - sustainable holiday gifts

Adopt a gentoo penguin with WWF

WWF's symbolic animal adoptions support its work to conserve wildlife and natural ecosystems globally. This cheerful gentoo penguin adoption kit comes with a plush toy that's perfect for the kids on your list, as well as a gift bag, adoption certificate and more information about the gentoo's life in the sub-Antarctic islands. WWF's shop also includes handmade items for kids and babies, as well as apparel, housewares and other sustainable holiday gifts that go to support its mission. The organization earned four stars on Charity Navigator for transparency and efficient use of funds to support animal conservation and welfare. 

Price: $60

Southern Seeds heirloom seed set - sustainable holiday gifts
Image courtesy of Southern Seeds 

Heirloom vegetable seed set from Southern Seeds

Those who love getting their hands dirty in the garden will appreciate this collection of tasty, nutritious heirloom varieties from the veteran-owned business Southern Seeds. Founded by a Florida couple inspired by their grandmothers' experience in the garden, Southern Seeds focuses on U.S.-grown, heirloom and non-GMO seeds, with more than 600 varieties available. This set includes kitchen mainstays like onion, carrots and celery, with a colorful heirloom twist, along with treats like asparagus, snap peas and okra for adventurous cooks and gardeners alike. 

Price: Now on sale for $24.99 (usually $49.99)

Womens Ecotrek Trail Shorts - sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide
(Image courtesy of LIVSN)

Ecotrek trail shorts from LIVSN

Founded in 2018, outdoor gear brand LIVSN is all about durability and material innovation. Its Ecotrek trail shorts are made mostly from ocean waste, with the majority sourced from retired buoys (who'd have thought?).

The shorts are meant to be moisture-wicking and breathable in hot weather, and our staff found they held up nicely on our treks. "I wore them on a few hikes this fall and really enjoyed them," says 3p editorial assistant Taylor Haelterman. "It was great to have more pockets than I needed for once. They held up well without pilling or ripping and overall seem of great quality." 

The company also offers a repair program to extend the life of all the gear it sells, and you can buy and sell used LIVSN items online via its resale shop for sustainable holiday gifts with an even lighter footprint on the planet. 

Price: $89 for women and men

Double Hanging Basket - sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide
Image courtesy of Korissa 

Handmade double hanging basket from Korissa

You guys, did you know storing many popular produce items in the refrigerator can affect their flavor and even make them spoil faster? This pretty and functional hanging basket provides a happy home for produce as well as potted plants, and it helps support a living wage for artisans in Bangladesh. Founded by women entrepreneurs, Korissa brings the natural fibers, weaving techniques and unique patterns of Bangladesh to a variety of home and garden products, from baskets and planters to tableware and handbags, that make for unique sustainable holiday gifts.

Price: $62

sustainable spice set from India - - sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide
Image courtesy of Diaspora Co. 

Spice trio from Diaspora Co.

Diaspora Co. sources single-origin spices from 150 farms across India and Sri Lanka. The AAPI- and LGBTQ-owned brand pays farmers an average six times above the commodity price for their spices, far beyond the 15 percent premium typically paid for fair trade spices, founder Sana Javeri Kadri wrote on the company's website

Kadri founded Diaspora Co. at only 23 years old with a mission to help farmers share in the profit from their spices and get those spices from field to market faster, so they're fresher and tastier for use in kitchens worldwide. It now sells 30 varieties, and this trio includes the most popular — flavorful Aranya black pepper, smoky Sirārakhong Hāthei chilies and bright Pragati turmeric — or you can also build your own set from any of the spice varieties available. 

Price: $31

Christmas Sock Monkey dog toy  - sustainable holiday gifts - sustainable holiday gift guide
Image courtesy of iHeartDogs

Holiday sock monkey from iHeartDogs

With a friendly face and soft feel, this plush toy is perfect for four-legged friends. Even better: iHeartDogs donates food, toys, veterinary services and other essentials to animal shelters for every product purchased. The brand also offers rope toys for tougher chewers, as well as beds, treats and other pet essentials that give back for sustainable holiday gifts for every furry friend on your list. 

Price: Now on sale for $7.98 (usually $14.99)

plastic free tote bag - sustainable holiday gifts
Image courtesy of Aya Paper Co. 

Plastic-free tote from Aya Paper Co.

As the name implies, Aya Paper Co. focuses primarily on greeting cards, journals and other stationary, but this fun catch-all tote is one of our favorites from the Black-owned brand. Made from recycled cotton, it's large enough to fit your laptop or beach essentials yet sturdy enough to withstand all those trips to the grocery store. Founder SaVonne Anderson expresses her background as an environmental justice advocate not only through the sustainable materials at Aya, but also through investments in environmental education in Black communities. 

Price: $20 or bundle it with other Aya best-sellers for $40

Socially conscious baked goods from Homeboy Industries and Greyston Bakery - sustainable holiday gifts
Images courtesy of Homeboy Industries and Greyston Bakery

Holiday treats that support stable employment from Homeboy Industries and Greyston Bakery

If treats are your go-to gift around the holidays, consider swapping your standby cookie tins and candy towers for one of TriplePundit's favorite socially conscious brands. Homeboy Industries and Greyston Bakery in particular push out tasty treats to rave reviews, while providing stable employment for people who otherwise struggle to find it — for sweet and sustainable holiday gifts that come with a side of upward mobility. 

Under the motto "jobs not jails," Homeboy Industries offers employment programming, education, and other services to people leaving prison, with a focus on former gang members. Having served well over 100,000 people in its home city of Los Angeles since 1988, it now powers the Global Homeboy Network of more than 400 organizations committed to giving formerly incarcerated people a second chance. Along with a bakery turning out sweet treats to Angelinos and fans across the U.S., Homeboy operates nearly a dozen social enterprises across Los Angeles, including a cafe, catering business and farmers market, all staffed by formerly incarcerated people. 

As a pioneer of the "open hiring" model, Greyston Bakery takes another approach to bringing equal employment to the community. 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. The company famously says, "We don't hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people." Yet its cult favorite brownies are tasty enough to make an appearance in Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors like Half Baked, so you know they're legit enough for your holiday gifting. 

Homeboy Industries bundles starting at $28.95

Greyston Bakery bundles starting at $31.50

Mary Mazzoni headshot

Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as executive editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of organizations on sustainability storytelling, and VP of content for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL. 

Read more stories by Mary Mazzoni