We’re all trying to do our part to help the environment, which means doing away with unnecessary waste. Even seemingly minute efforts, like giving your loved ones zero-waste and eco-friendly gifts during the holidays, could have an impact on our Earth’s future.
Swapping out single-use items for reusable ones can make a big difference in the amount of plastic going into our landfills — the more people who make the switch, the greater the benefits.
And plastic isn’t the only type of waste we need to worry about. The average person creates paper and food waste each and every day. Much of this could be eliminated, reused, or recycled with minimal effort.
So if you know someone who can’t have a drink without sipping through a straw or uses single-serving coffee pods every morning, here are the best eco-friendly gifts to get them:
10 Everyday Consumables to Replace with Eco-Friendly Gifts (That Are Better Than the Originals)
We produce so much waste without realizing it. Many everyday items have reusable alternatives, yet we still turn to single-use items for our needs.
There are reasons for this. Often, the single-use versions are cheaper and more convenient. At the same time, consumers don’t always realize that reusable products exist.
So next time you’re shopping for the holidays or a special occasion, shine some light on these eco-friendly alternatives with your gift-giving.
Phasing plastic straws out of existence has, at this point, become a meme. Unfortunately, many people opposed to the switch think the only alternative to regular straws is to use soggy paper ones or go without.
Plastic straws are far from a necessity. But why are they so demonized in the first place? After all, they’re tiny when compared to other sources of plastic pollution.
The danger of plastic straws is actually a direct result of being so small. Straws are too small to be processed by most recycling plants — if they make it into the recycling bin at all.
People use straws at an astounding rate. Industry experts estimate the United States alone uses 500 million straws each day.
The Swig Life Telescopic Stainless Steel Straw Set is a collapsible straw that fits inside a tiny carrying case that easily attaches to a keyring or slides into a pocket or bag. The included brush is also collapsible and fits right in the case so that you can clean the straw on-the-go.
The Rain Straw is a recent Kickstarter success story that easily slides apart for cleaning. You don’t need a special brush or sprayer to clean the inside — just wash them with a sponge, towel, or in the dishwasher.
2. Water bottles
Getting in enough water while also steering clear of plastic bottles isn’t easy. It doesn’t help that most reusable water bottles are difficult to carry or stow in a bag when not in use.
Whether you’re shopping for a hiker, a college student, or just someone who can’t be bothered to haul around a giant Hydro Flask everywhere they go, eco-friendly hydration is within reach with a collapsible water bottle.
The Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle is great for anyone trying to cut down on their plastic bottle consumption. It holds up to 22 ounces, and the flexible body folds up tightly for storage. When you’re ready to fill it, the sturdy locking mechanism instantly adds support.
The HYDAWAY Hydration Travel Pack is another great style of a reusable water bottle. This water bottle uses an accordion-inspired design to collapse down. Although it holds an impressive 25 ounces when full, the entire water bottle collapses down to a mere 1.5 inches.
3. Shopping bags
Many countries have banned single-use plastic shopping bags altogether. In the United States, eight states banned their use. In England, large retailers must charge a fee for plastic bags to reduce the number used (and it seems effective).
On top of limiting the amount of waste produced every day, reusable bags are more durable than single-use versions. No more worrying about heavy items ripping straight through!
We all know that plastic is bad for the environment. But plastic shopping bags are also terrible for wildlife. Animals can easily get caught inside and suffocate. Plus, all it takes is a tiny gust of wind to send a plastic bag flying into a wetland, forest, ocean, or prairie.
Whether your giftee lives in an area where single-use bags are banned or not, reusable shopping bags just make sense.
The Houswork Reusable Grocery Bags are large, sturdy, and collapse down for storage in your car or pantry. Each bag features an upright design for easy loading and unloading. The manufacturer also uses recycled materials.
Of course, regular shopping bags aren’t the only plastic bags at the grocery store. The Ecowaare Reusable Produce Bags are a great alternative to single-use bags available from the store. They feature lightweight, see-through mesh and convenient drawstrings.
4. Food storage
Tupperware-style containers are great for storing leftovers or meal-prepping. However, when it comes to reusable food storage, there are far more options than you might realize.
Here are some of the newest reusable storage solutions your giftee is sure to love:
We all know someone who washes and reuses their ziplock bags. The Stasher Reusable Silicone Storage Bags are just the next logical step in cutting down on unnecessary plastic waste (and saving money!).
The Bee’s Wrap Reusable Food Storage Wraps Variety Pack includes seven sheets made of organic cotton and beeswax — no plastic here. You can use these sheets to wrap small food items or cover a bowl. They last for about a year, and you can compost them.
5. Coffee machine pods
Keurig and its competitors revolutionized the world of at-home coffee-brewing with their single-serve pods. Despite their overwhelming convenience, though, these pods add up to a lot of unnecessary waste.
If someone you know is wishing for a Keurig this holiday season, be sure to add one of these to their stocking. The YEOSEN Reusable K-Cup is a metal filter that works with Keurig 1.0 and 2.0 machines.
Is there someone on your shopping list who’s constantly on the go or doesn’t need to make an entire pot of coffee? Skip the Keurig and instead gift them a Bodum Travel Press. It features a built-in French press plunger for brewing coffee right in the mug.
6. Cotton toiletries
Following any skincare routine means using single-use items like q-tips, makeup wipes, and cotton rounds. When you do this every day (or even multiple times per day), it quickly adds up.
Reusable toiletries are becoming more and more popular. In some cases, they’re even gentler and more effective than their single-use counterparts.
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect stocking stuffer for a beauty aficionado in your life, why not help make their routine just a touch greener?
The Green Estate Reusable Makeup Remover Pads are great for removing makeup and applying skincare products like toner. These microfiber pads are extremely durable, easy to wash, and can replace thousands of single-use cotton rounds.
There are plenty of sustainable cotton swabs on the market, but you can do one better with the LastSwab Beauty Reusable Cotton Swab. It eliminates the need for paper or plastic swabs to clean up smudged makeup or achieve the perfect application.
7. Paper towels
Paper towels are yet another household item that is far more wasteful than we realize.
When you put together every household in the United States, the country goes through a whopping 13 billion pounds of paper towels per year.
Other countries prefer more sustainable clean-up methods, such as dish towels and sponges. So paper towels are far from necessary to keep a clean and tidy home.
There are plenty of eco-friendly gifts that will do the trick for those on your holiday list that is caught up in the United States’ obsession with paper towels.
The Natissy Reusable Paper Towels easily roll up to resemble a regular roll of paper towels. They’re made of thick cotton fabric and last up to five years.
If you don’t mind ditching the roll altogether, Swedish Dishcloths are durable and versatile. These cloths combine the best of a paper towel and a sponge. Cleaning them between uses is also super easy — just toss them in the dishwasher or the laundry.
8. Packaged soft drinks
Soda and sparkling water will probably never fall out of favor, at least not within our lifetimes. But drinking one or more bottled drinks a day can really add to the plastic sitting in our landfills.
If you’re looking for a green gift that will wow everyone, get your loved one a SodaStream Sparkling Water Maker.
Despite pushback from competing soda and water companies, SodaStream has been very vocal about cutting down on plastic and saving the planet. According to SodaStream, each of its reusable bottles can prevent up to 2,000 plastic bottles from entering landfills.
The company also has a recycling program for its carbonating cylinders. Rather than throw out their empty canisters, SodaStream owners can exchange them for new ones. SodaStream then refills the empty canisters, so they stay in circulation and out of the trash.
Composting is, without a doubt, the best and most natural way to boost your soil quality. It keeps food waste out of landfills and reduces the need for chemical fertilizer.
Sadly, not everyone has the space for a DIY composting pile. So if you know someone who wants to try composting, here are some eco-friendly gifts to get them started:
The Miracle-Gro Small Composter is a self-contained composting bin that requires very little space. You can use it on a porch, patio, or rooftop. More importantly, it’s hassle-free and great for beginners.
If your giftee needs somewhere to keep kitchen scraps before adding them to the composter, get them something like the Bamboozle Food Composter. While this bin won’t actually compost anything, it offers a convenient and odor-controlled storage solution for the kitchen. That means no more wasted compostables when you don’t have time to take them outside.
10. Toilet paper
Not only does toilet paper consume trees, but it also takes several gallons of water to transform raw tree pulp into the stuff you find on the supermarket shelves.
If there’s someone on your gift-giving list you feel particularly close to (or who has a good sense of humor), why not help them cut down on their toilet paper use while also enjoying a cleaner bathroom experience?
The TUSHY Classic Bidet Toilet Seat Attachment gets rid of the need for toilet paper almost entirely. It’s easy to install on any toilet, so your giftee won’t need to call a plumber.
On average, bidets use just one-eighth of a gallon of water with each use. This bidet also uses zero electricity, so you don’t need to worry about wasting power.
Wrap Your Gifts in Something Green
There’s no shortage of ideas for eco-friendly gifts, even for the pickiest people on your holiday shopping list. So if you want to make a difference this year, opting for eco-conscious gifts is a great place to start.
While you’re at it, ditch the single-use wrapping paper and go for something more environmentally friendly.
If you just can’t part with wrapping paper’s traditional look, try the Wrappily Eco-Friendly Reversible Wrapping Paper. It’s made from recycled newsprint and can be recycled or composted itself.
For the gardeners on your list, wrap your eco-friendly gifts with Triumph Plant Gift Wrap That Grows. This wrapping paper is made of recycled materials and contains wildflower seeds. Just make sure your giftee knows that the wrapping paper is a gift, too!
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using a reusable gift bag or foregoing wrapping altogether. We all know the gift (and the thought behind it) is what matters.
Do you have any eco-friendly gifts on your own wishlist this year? Let us know in the comments below!