Our annual sustainable holiday gift guide!

Hi friends!

Holiday season is upon us, and my favorite part of it is to observe my consumerism habits and see which ones I can replace with connection and climate-friendly activities. Gifts are always fun, so I like brainstorming an annual gift guide of sustainable presents for yourself and your loved ones! Many of these gifts have been recommended by our amazing climate action community, which you are welcome to join here.

There are three categories: experiences, household products, and self-care. Each has 10 gift ideas. If you end up taking inspiration from this gift guide, we’d love for you to tag us @soapboxproject on TikTok or Instagram!

FYI, this gift guide contains one adult-only gift. Handle with care. 😉

Here is a picture of me being a moose. Hoping to make you laugh before we go on this gifting journey together.

Nivi being a moose
Nivi (the author) being a moose

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Before we jump straight to the gifts, I want to make sure you know about an alternative to buying a bunch of gift wrap that gets thrown in the trash each year. Get beautiful, reusable, and kid-approved wrapping "paper" from ShikiWrap!

Category 1: Experiences

This is our FAVORITE category of gifts. Experiences mean everything in our one wild and precious life, so let’s make the most of them! Especially when these experiences have minimal CO2 emissions. Yay for us and yay for planet earth.

  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✨ — 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?) can pair nicely with life on a train.

  1. A national parks annual pass

    Most countries in the world have some sort of national parks system, and many of these have annual passes. If this doesn’t sound like something that’s available to you, think of other experience-based annual passes that are relevant to you — ski lifts? A nearby resort? An amusement park, even?

    This is one of the best ways to reduce the barrier for your loved ones to enjoy nature. Plus, it’s a great excuse to snag some time with them for a hike or a camping trip.

  1. A photo session with a local photographer

    This was one of my favorite ideas from last year’s gift guide. 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. The chance to meet and draw a llama

    This is one of the best things I’ve discovered on the internet. It’s amazing. You get to MEET AND DRAW A LLAMA. THE LLAMA’S NAME IS CADBURY! You’ll tour his paddock! You’ll learn about llamas! And then. You will. LEARN TO DRAW A LLAMA!!!!! You can get this from $26/person or $195/group on Airbnb experiences here. I seriously have no words. This is the best idea ever.

  1. A course or community subscription to level-up at life

    Last year, Meagan, one of our members, gifted her friend a Soapbox community subscription and I realized how amazing that is as a gift idea! You can email us at team@soapboxproject.org if you want to gift a subscription.

    Some of our other favorites are a year of Masterclass for the avid learner in your life, Dreamers & Doers for entrepreneurial women, cooking classes, and local fitness classes (Classpass is great for this).

  1. This immersive murder mystery subscription

    Try Hunt a Killer’s games. They have three options, and if you choose their subscription, you’ll solve a case over a six month period, with new cases every six months. You can choose more standard options that are a good fit for smaller groups and, well, muuuch smaller time periods. This is perfect for our Northern Hemisphere friends who won’t be doing much outdoors for the next few months in the dreary cold!

  1. Some time away at a local resort #staycation

    ResortPass offers giftcards
    so your loved one (a busy parent? an overworked teacher?) can vibe out in a hotel of their choice. This is also a great way to encourage someone to travel locally — a daycation sounds awesome!

  1. A walking tour of your city

    City walking tours are SOO underrated. Almost every city has one, and you learn so much about the place you live! Even if you’ve been living somewhere for decades, walking tours have something new to offer. It’s a fun way to spend some time with the person you’re gifting this to — perfect for a date, some family time, or investing in a new friendship! These tours are generally cheap/free and you can find them simply by googling “walking tour in [city]”. I just found that Seattle, where I live, has a cool underground tour 😵‍💫😮‼️… I didn’t even know we had an underground infrastructure!

  1. A jigsaw puzzle (and optionally, a puzzle mat, a frame, and glue)

    I discovered PuzzleWarehouse and found a beautiful jigsaw which you’re welcome to gift me. PuzzleWarehouse is a great place to get jigsaw puzzles and filter by theme, puzzle count, and a few other categories. Bonus points if you include a puzzle mat, a frame, and ModPodge in your gift so that they can proudly display their finished puzzle in their home (…or maybe gift it back to you as art). They also have an option to custom-create your own puzzle! That’s such a special touch for a gift, and if you end up going with it, we’d love to see some pics — tag us @soapboxproject!

    Also this definitely counts as an “experience gift” because y’all know how long these things take 😜

Nivi at Mt. Rainier National Park
Me at Mt. Rainier National Park - we love a good National Parks Pass gift!

Category 2: Household Products

Housewarmings. Dinner gifts. Random stuff you want to buy for yourself. Sustainable household products are the solution!

My favorite thing about household product gifts is that it’s an easy way to get someone else hooked on sustainable habits. My friend gifted me un-paper towels (which are literally cloths that roll together on a paper towel-style roll) and I LOVE THEM. Habit change AND gifts? Yes please!

  1. Un-paper towels

    Enough said on this. Shop here. I still use the occasional paper towel, but I haven’t bought new rolls in… a year? (‼️‼️)

  1. Plastic-free laundry powder that smells great

    Soapbox members love this one for a housewarming gift, and that’s honestly a brilliant idea. With sustainable household products, it can often feel like we’re making a quality tradeoff, but that’s not the case with Meliora! Their detergent has gotten rave reviews from our community — people swear by this, both as gifts to themselves and to others.

    Here’s a link
    to their lavender detergent that can support 64 loads for only $18.

  1. Wool dryer balls

    I was really skeptical about cutting fabric softener sheets out of my laundry routine. I bought 6 wool dryer balls about a year ago, and I’m happy to report that they work GREAT. And I never have to buy those sheets again! Wahoo!

    Grab a pack (or two) from Kind Laundry — you can use the code EARTHIZEN10 for 10% off! Kind Laundry is AAPI-founded and plastic free.

  1. A beautiful holiday hand soap tin

    Blueland, one of my favorite sustainable products, has a holiday series! I made the switch to non-liquid holiday soap last year, and it’s been great. I do not miss the past. They have this giftable tin and a few other options beyond hand soap. This is another awesome housewarming gift and generally provides holiday cozy vibes.

  1. The most beautiful food storage container set

    This is definitely a splurge gift, but their tagline “look forward to leftovers” says it all. One reason people store so much with Ziplocs and plastic wraps is for lack of better storage options.  A few years ago, I ran out of plastic wrap, and realized… I could simply put food in my existing Tupperware containers. So I did! And I’ve been using the same one tube of plastic wrap for the past 3 years, since I hardly need it.

    Anyway. Caraway is selling some truly gorgeous food storage containers. Their thoughtful designs (including glass see-through tops and mini-inserts) make it easy to tell what food is in your containers, help you store little things like leftover sauce, and more. Curb food waste AND cut out plastic AND impress with how awesome these will look in your fridge!

    (Of course, there are budget options for food storage, but I love how elegant this specific gift/brand feels.)

  1. Sateen pillowcases made from Egyptian cotton

    I’ve been dreaming of buying something from Parachute Home for a while now. They’re Climate Neutral certified and share more about their sustainability commitments on their website. Bed things like sheets and mattresses are not yet on my “will buy secondhand” list, so when I’m buying new, I want to make sure they last, and that I’ll love them! Check out these lush pillowcases.

  1. A cast iron pan that will last centuries

    Cast iron pans last so long that they can be passed down over generations. Some might argue this is weird or gross. Centuries of food flavoring?! I think that’s special. (Maybe a little gross if you don’t trust your family members’ hygiene.) Plus, cast iron pans are sooo versatile. They can be used as cookware. Bakeware. Weapons. Musical instruments. What’s not to love?

    There are a bunch of excellent ones, but this skillet from Stargazer has non-stick properties, which is unique and so worthwhile in my limited cast-ironing experience.

  1. A compost tumbler for anyone with a balcony

    I have tried my hardest to avoid Amazon links on here but alas, most compost tumblers can only be found (or only reasonably be found) on Amazon. So here is a link to a compost tumbler. What is a compost tumbler, you might ask? It’s basically a magical composting machine. You put in your food scraps and the rotating motion and heat helps the scraps biodegrade into usable soil products! This works well for anyone who loves gardening or your eco-minded friend that really wants to compost but feels like they can’t. (You don’t need a huge space for this, but you do want to put it outside, just FYI.)

  1. A towel that used to be trash (better than it sounds I promise)

    Nomadix turns trash into towels by recycling plastic bottles. They’re also Climate Neutral! Travel is one of the most carbon-intensive activities that wealthy people do (and if you’re reading this, yes, you’re a wealthy person). We have to fly less if we hope to preserve our planet, and I discovered that flying less opens up so much magic! This summer, I stayed local for my travels and explored Washington State, where I live. The #1 thing I was happy to have brought with me on all my travels was a compact and lightweight towel, and Nomadix is perfect for this. They also have these cool “changing ponchos” that would make a great gift for your fellow adventurer!

  1. A hammock that gives back

    Listen. Having a hammock is a GAME CHANGER. I cannot emphasize this with enough gusto. I’ve had a hammock for a while now that I pretty much ignored until this summer (whyyy did I waste so much time on a hammock-less life?!). It is INSTANT RELAXATION in a world that makes us feel under constant threat. Plus, it helps you enjoy the outdoors. Just find your nearest tree and post up!! Anyway, my hammock love letter aside, this brand Coalatree uses waterless dye and recycled materials, and they also have a bunch of social impact initiatives to benefit their community including a give-back program to the local Indigenous community! Trust me and get yourself and your best friend each a hammock. And tag us at @soapboxproject with pics of you living your best life.

4 campers living their best hammock life
4 campers living their best hammock life

Category 3: Self-care

We do well when we feel well. Yes, self-care has traditionally been bath bombs and candles, but we also want to take a more holistic lens here.

  1. One of these uplifting books / audiobooks

    We absolutely LOVE the All We Can Save anthology as well as Braiding Sweetgrass — both are inspiring, uplifting, and real. Whether or not your gift recipient is a self-proclaimed climate activist, either of these books are sure to make them feel better. We also love Humankind, which is all about how humans are inherently good. (That last one may be more suited for someone who doesn’t think of themselves as an environmentalist.)

    Shop on bookshop.org or IndieBound instead of Amazon if you can!

  1. Chuan’s Promise skincare

    Chuan’s Promise is a sustainable natural skincare brand. Their products are ethically handcrafted in small batches, with a focus on eco-friendly formulas & compostable packaging. The founder, Ada Chen, spoke on a Soapbox fireside chat in late 2022 about the egregiousness of shipping water all around the world, and about how water is absolutely unnecessary to formulate many skincare products (as in, it can be added in later instead of being shipped).

    Their packaging is also beautiful and heart-warming. It showcases Ada’s late father who would always bid her farewell asking her to take care of herself.

    I love all the products I’ve gotten so far from Chuan’s Promise, and their bestseller is this lotion bar, which is also great for travel. You can use the code SOAPBOX for 15% off!

  1. Conversation candles

    Lonez Scents, a Black-owned candle company, makes aromatic candles that not only make you feel better in the commercial self-care sense, but also have important conversation starters on them. One of our Soapbox Founding Members gifted me one a few years ago, and it’s been a centerpiece of our coffee table.

    Pick your scent and your message here!

  1. A climate journal

    We LOVE the Climate Journal Project
    , and every event we’ve done with them has been magical and transformative. Their journals help with cognitive processing, come with 26 weekly prompts, and include 20+ facts and quotes about the environment. One of our event attendees told us recently that, thanks to our session together with CJP, she is now starting a journaling habit with her daughter and it’s helped them get closer and deeper.

    Grab a journal for yourself and a friend!
    Get 10% off with the code CJPYVONNE.

  1. Chilla mix

    For the adventurous cook in your life, Ojaswe’s regenerative-based chickpea chilla mix serves as a great starting point for healthy, planet-friendly foods. You probably haven’t heard of chilla before, so I’ll let you explore this magical world for yourself and not give too much away. Enjoy this act of self-care and planet-care!

  1. A lil… something for the bedroom 😉

    is all about natural, shame-free sexual wellness. They advocate for safe sex, comprehensive sex education, and ingredient transparency. You could theoretically gift their natural personal lubricant to anyone, but it might be best as a special treat for you and your bedmate. They also have condoms, massage oils, and feminine care products with organic cotton — it’s all fair-trade and they’re a Certified B Corp.

  1. Connection cards for better conversations

    You deserve wonderful conversations. That’s what community building expert Kat Vellos says, and helps us with, through her Better Than Small Talk cards. These digital cards serve as conversation starters to deepen any gathering. Basically, these are a life hack for a more meaningful existence. She also has a calendar available to purchase, but those sell out real fast, so they might be gone as you’re reading it (hopefully not. I just bought mine today.)

  1. A CSA box

    Food is wellness, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes let you basically “subscribe” to a local farm. What fun! It’s a delightful surprise of local fruits and veggies — to find a CSA near you, just Google it or go to your local farmer’s market. Misfits Market is also a good option if you’re not sure how to find CSAs.

  1. A custom poetry gift

    What do you get someone who has everything? This is what SXSW speaker, author, actress, absolute badass, and my friend Neelam Patel sets out to answer with Tailored Poetry. It’s a one-of-a-kind art piece that doubles as a grand romantic gesture (especially if you struggle with that kind of thing). And this grand gesture can be for anyone special in your life, not just a romantic partner — on Neelam’s website, people have talked about her poems being beautiful gifts for their children’s special moments or to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. An absolute banger of a gift.

  1. A coloring book about the planet

    I love this one from the United States Botanical Garden — it’s free! These coloring pages feature all sorts of beautiful plants that can be colored by adults and children alike (or why not both). If you’re looking for something with a more educational slant for kids, check out this Sustainability with Beelinda Coloring Book (yes she’s a bee).

Aaaand as a bonus: The absolute BEST gift you can give someone is your time! Here’s a list of 105 date ideas, pretty much all of which are suitable for friends, families, and other non-romantic-couple groups.

Happy holidays! We can’t wait to learn how you invested your time and money this season to shift from consumerism to meaningful connection. It’s so much fun!

Remember to tag us @soapboxproject with all the good times you're having this season. Happy holidays!

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

💌 Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 7,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
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." - Meghan Mehta, Google

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