30 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas for 2021

🎡 It's the most wonderful time of the year! 🎡

‍

Or not, but it's certainly the most consumerist time of the year!

‍

In our 2021 Soapbox Project gift guide, we're helping you find gifts that will not only be one-off eco-friendly purchases (like steel straws and bamboo cutlery, though we love those too). We're giving you ideas on how to make the holiday season more sustainable overall, with gifts that keep on giving... or gifts that don't require consuming natural resources at all.

‍

That's why this year's gift guide is split into two parts: of our 30 gift recs, the first 15 are digital and non-tangible. The next 15 are physical gifts that can be used multiple times, are good sustainability conversation starters, and can help the giftee build habits that fight climate change and create justice over time.

‍

Let's get started! Prices are in USD but this is a global list, so don't fret.

Join 4,000 people fighting climate change with our fun, bite-sized plans

No annoying marketing emails. Just 3-minute weekly breakdowns of our monthly sustainability topics.
Informative, bite-sized, and actionable, just for you.
Thank you! You're signed up for the fight against climate change. Make sure you add us to your contacts or mark our welcome email as important so we stay in your primary inbox instead of your promotions tab.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

πŸ’Œ Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 4,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Take action
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter."Β - Meghan Mehta, Google

30 Digital, Sustainable, & Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas

‍

Before we get our list kicked off, IΒ have to tell you about one that's not currently on this list:Β a Soapbox Project membership! For only $6/mo (prices go up in 2022), you get weekly events, action hours, local meetups, product discounts, and more. We make it embarrassingly easy for you to use your time to fight climate change and create justice. When you grab a membership, you're also giving me a gift I'll never forget.

‍

  1. A gratitude visit

    A gratitude visit, referenced in The Power of Moments, is when you think of someone who's had a positive impact in your life. You write them a letter telling them how they've made a difference to you and visit them in-person (well, as close as you can get to that depending on where you live) and read them the letter. If this sounds too fuzzy to you, it's backed by ✨science✨ β€” there's evidence that this can be one of the most powerful moments to both the visiter and the visitee, and leave a happy afterglow for a whole month!

    Find instructions and ideas here.

    ‍
  1. A train ticket

    Wherever in the world you live, there's likely a train that's relatively accessible to you. If not, sub this out for any other low-carbon travel option in your area. Gifting a train ticket is the perfect way to force your loved one to take a break from work, enjoy the city you're in (or visiting), and take life at a leisurely pace. A few other things on this list (like our journal rec or e-reader?) can pair nicely with life on a train.


    ‍
  2. Stocks that make someone feel special

    So you can't technically buy someone else stocks, but our community member Anya (who founded sustainable marketplace April22) gifts her niece Disney stock every year. BRILLIANT idea, right? Anya sends $$ to her sister to convert into stock, but if you're part of a platform like Public, you can make it feel more like a non-cash transfer. I'm totally going to use this idea for all the kids in my life.

    ‍
  1. A celebrity Cameo

    A special digital gift, especially for a teenager or a trash-TV-obsessed adult, could be a personalized greeting from their favorite celebrity. There's even one available from Thomas the Tank Engine! Cameo dot com lets you pick a celebrity of your choice (as long as they're on the platform) and request a greeting with your loved one's name and personalized message. We did a guerilla version of this by just DMing one of our favorite YouTubers before we knew about Cameo, and it was the best reaction I've ever seen for a gift I gave.

    Get it here from $20.

    ‍
  1. An online cooking class

    If you want to feed two birds with one scone, some nonprofits offer cooking classes that can help them raise funds AND give you creative food tips. Weld in Seattle is a great org to reach out to if you're planning a corporate gift. I was also gifted this affiliate link for the Plantiful Holiday Feast, which is perfect to gift and spend time cooking together with your family. There's also tons of other cooking classes available on the internet β€” let us know your faves!

    ‍
  1. ClassPass or local fitness studio membership

    I was so sad I couldn't include this in last year's gift guide because of Miss Rona. I've LOVED the idea of gifting an exercise membership for a friend, especially if you're doing a class with them. My favorite adult birthday celebration was going to the Circus Center with my friend Claire for a flying trapeze hour-long session. ClassPass allows you to discover classes in your area while supporting local studios, and if your city isn't on that platform, I bet there's a ton of undiscovered activities you can do with a friend.

    Get ClassPass here
    (and you can also use their site to pick a specific local studio).

    ‍
  1. Carbon removal thank you cards

    When you buy one of these digital thank you cards from Thanks a Ton, you're sending someone a ton of removed carbon dioxide. Climate chhange is caused by zillions of excess tons of CO2 in the atmosphere, and now there'll be one less! It's a way to send a thoughtful card with real impact! These offsets and carbon removal options are through the Nori marketplace.

    Get it here from $26.

    ‍
  1. StyleCrush Founding Partner Membership

    If you're into fashion but have been mourning its unforgiveable impact on the planet, StyleCrush is your new BFF. Get or gift a membership β€” it's the first community-owned, cooperative resale marketplace, and it launches in 2022. Each founding partner membership represents discounts from their platform, a way to be super cool before anyone else, and a big commitment to eco-friendly shopping.

    Learn more here
    and contact jennifer@stylecrush.co if you have any questions.

    ‍
  1. Digital dance classes

    Steezy
    is building an online dance studio that actually feels like a studio. They have 1,000+ classes and over a hundred instructors. They've got a bunch of ways you can view their videos, so it feels like you're actually in a studio instead of behind one screen. Whether it's still pandemic or not, this is a great way to DFH (dance from home)!

    Get them here β€” 7 days free.
    ‍
  1. Clothing rental subscription

    Clothing rental marketplaces like Rent the Runway are doing huge holiday cyber sales (RTR is 40% off, which brings a month of membership down to $80). A month of clothing rentals is great for the fashionista in your life. Or if you know that one of your friends has a bunch of weddings to attend in 2022 (maybe even your own??) a clothing rental subscription is a gift that will empower them to not have to buy new πŸ’© every occasion.

    ‍
  1. A gift card to a local restaurant

    On our Soapbox sustainable gifting workshop in November 2021, we agreed that gift cards are generally not great (give cash instead!) unless they're very specific and thoughtful. Our favorite use of gift cards was to buy a loved one a meal to a local restaurant (or better yet, take them out for dinner).

    ‍
  1. A photo session with a local photographer

    This could be perfect for new parents in your life. Or parents with grouchy teenagers that need a forced family bonding experience. Our Soapbox member Jason said one of the best gifts was a photography session to get some family portraits done, and now it's become a tradition! Photographers are SUPER easy to find on Instagram or by a simple Google search.
    ‍
    ‍
  1. Concert tickets

    In many parts of the world, CONCERTS ARE BACK!! Gift a concert ticket! Be safe! Have fun! My favorite way to keep an eye out for tours are to follow artists on Spotify and get notified that way.

    ‍
  1. A DIY recycling machine

    Have you heard of Precious Plastic? Our Soapbox member Jannis is involved with them and it's SOOO cool. They open source blueprints to build your own recycling machines, let you join spaces in your area, find things to buy on their marketplace, and more. This would be the perfect thing to get an adult or child with a lifelong obsession for building things β€” it's like Legos meets saving the world.

    ‍Learn more here.

    ‍
  1. A donation on DonorsChoose

    If you're friends with a teacher (if not, please go make a teacher friend ASAP), they likely have a profile on DonorsChoose. You can donate to their classroom or help them set one up. It's a thoughtful way to support education efforts!

    ‍
  1. ShikiWrap

    Ok now onto non-digital gifts. Before you scramble off to buy physical gifts, you should probably have a plan on how to wrap them. I used to opt for brown paper bags that I would get from the grocery store, but now I've successfully gone fully tote-bag.

    Enter: the ShikiWrap, inspired by the Japanese tradition of Furoshiki β€” it adds the gift "wrap" experience to the delight of the gift itself, and it's reusable! Plus, the founder of ShikiWrap is a Soapbox community member, and if you're also a member, here's your discount.

    Get it here from $12.

    ‍
  1. Zero-Waste Cookbook

    I just received The Zero-Waste Chef by Anne-Marie Bonneau from Soapbox member Daaniya (THANK U) and it's one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. I'm really into "gifts that keep on giving" and this is one of them. I'm learning how easy it is to ferment vegetables I would have otherwise thrown away and basically make my whole life more tasty and healthy.

    Get it here from $23
    β€” her website also has TONS of free tips on waste-free cooking, whether that's pertaining to food, plastic, or something else.

    ‍
  1. Thousand Fell Shoes

    Thanks, Tabong, for the rec on this one. Thousand Fell is a "closed loop" sneaker brand β€” i.e. their materials and practices are circular. For example, when you buy TF shoes, they give you $20 in sneaker credit when you pledge to recycle them. After years of wear, you can send it back to them. This is the perfect gift for someone transitioning to a capsule wardrobe of basics; I've been told everyone needs trendy white sneakers and I hope to get my hands (or feet, ha) on a pair of these myself.

    Get them here for around $100.

    ‍
  1. Swedish Dish Cloths

    These all-natural cleaning cloths are super absorbent and also cute. You can reuse them up to 200 times and they're totally biodegradable. Plus, did we mention cute?? It's the perfect gift for whoever in your house does the most cooking (yes I'm planning on getting myself some of these).

    Get them here from $7.

    ‍
  1. Amaryllis bulbs

    These bright-red, vibrant blooming flower bulbs are usually associated with Christmas, but they can last year-round with proper care. It's a super fun gift to give someone a few weeks before the holidays so they can bloom in time for whatever occasion you're celebrating!

    Get them from your local plant store (or if you really need an online buy, here's some options from $13).

    ‍
  1. Upcycled jewelry

    You can get a simple, beautiful made-to-order piece of jewelry for someone you love. One of our members Gabrielle said her partner bought a ring from an estate sale and had it customized by a local jeweler! If you're not trying to take a long journey of finding the right piece, get this 14k gold ring made with upcycled brass from $44 from April22's sustainable marketplace.

    ‍
  1. A blanket that can double as home decor

    This fun, bright throw is made from all-natural materials and 50% recycled cotton. Gift it to a new homeowner or someone who loves to spend time on the beach!

    Get it here from $44.

    ‍
  1. A super soft (and compostable) phone case

    1 billion+ plastic phone cases are sold every single year. Pela is building the world's first compostable phone case, and it can be composted in your backyard, so it's not one of those fancy industrial compost things. They also sell accessories like grips and cardholders β€” I already have a phone case but I'm in desperate need of a card holder.

    Get your phone accessories here from $20.

    ‍
  1. Reusable Food Storage Wraps

    Switch from Saran Wrap and other plastic food wrap to beeswax-based wraps. These aren't perfect (we use tupperwares for highly perishable items) but they're a great solution for most of the things you're plasticking. One of our Soapbox members Alex Morgan is planning to make his own upcycled beeswax wraps and maybe even personalize them for his loved ones β€” turns out it's easier and cheaper. This could double as a fun art project AND a holiday gift!

    ‍
  1. A Fairphone

    If you're considering getting yourself or a family member a new iPhone for the holidays, stop. Pause. Think about it. What if instead you were able to get an electronic waste neutral phone, that unlike much of our modern hardware, doesn't exploit people and support terrible working conditions? The Fairphone team is making it easy for us to do the right thing, and it'll be my next purchase when my current phone inevitably breaks down. Also, these are built to last and they have a 93% reparability score.

    Get one here for $600.

    ‍
  1. Bogue Shaving Kit

    Anyone with a beard or facial shaving needs is sure to appreciate SustainLA's Bogue Shaving Kit. It's a solid, all-natural shave bar with a beautiful natural bristle brush. The soap comes in a vintage style porcelain coffee mug!! It's a stunning, useful, and eco-friendly gift β€” what's not to love?

    Get it here from $28
    . (The soap refills are only $6.)

    ‍
  1. Solar powered essentials

    If your crew enjoys the outdoors, it's time to go solar. This list has solar-powered battery packs, showers, and even beautiful LED lights if you're planning to stay firmly in your actual home.

    ‍
  1. Knickey's Underwear

    Yeah yeah who wants underwear for the holidays? Probably your broke friendly neighborhood startup founder who has been postponing a trip to the store for too long. Talking about a friend, of course. But seriously, especially if you're trying to buy essentials for your family, check out Knickey's. My favorite thing is learning that you can in fact recycle super worn textiles β€” Knickey's will accept your used intimates, recycle them, and even send you a free pair of undies!

    ‍
  1. A bike helmet

    Usually a bike helmet would be useless without a bike, but if you live in an urban area, your city might be investing in bike transit. I've ridden public bikes in Lyon, Amsterdam, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and more. But I'd be more likely to do it if I'd had a bike helmet on me. Here's a list of foldable (but safe) bike helmets. If you want a more sturdy investment, my partner, an avid cyclist, loves his POC helmet. Give the gift of lowering your loved one's activation energy to ride a bike. It works.

    ‍
  1. A Kindle or an e-reader

    Yeah I know β€” we don't want to support Jeff in these trying times. The good news is there's a bunch of high-quality e-readers on the market that are affordable ($100ish). The even better news is, if you do buy a Kindle from Amazon (but bonus points if you go secondhand), you can get ALL your books for free with the Libby app. All you need is a library card. And get our Soapbox 2022 reading list here!

‍

I hope this list brought you joy, and if you're a Soapbox member, you can chime in with comments here.

‍

And if you're not a member, give yourself the gift of easy peasy social impact with new friends!Β It's the most fun community I've ever been a part of. Join our community here.

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

πŸ’Œ Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 4,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Take action
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter."Β - Meghan Mehta, Google