It's that time of year again. Every commercial on TV and every banner online is trying to sell you something else you don't need. And, they're all pretty convincing. I know, retail therapy is real. After all, I consider shopping to be a creative outlet. Yet, I can't help thinking of how this season impacts sustainability. Can you imagine the increased amount of carbon emissions released due to production of turkey and ham for those delicious holiday meals? The holidays can be a time of excess and illusion. How about giving a bit more consciously this year?
Our guide to giving sustainably covers the basics. This is a gender neutral gift guide that's really meant to be more about the Earth than the person you're buying it for. Sustainable shopping this year, remember? That being said, we curated brands and products that value aesthetics along with environmental friendliness. You can give a fuck about more than just yourself and still maintain some semblance of style. Click through the images for additional info and pricing.
Always wanted to harness the sun's energy? Portable solar batteries, panels, and kits are making it easier than ever. And, it's about time. In a fight for our planet, I'll bet on the sun over coal any day. Zero Lemon Solar Juice is our go-to portable charger. It conveniently fits into any bag just like a cell phone. You can find ours catching sun rays on the dashboard as we drive around. Solar Paper and Goal Zero Nomad offer similar portability and weather resistance while providing extended power. Both portable panel kits have the ability to link on additional panels. Goal Zero is perfect for an active lifestyle while Solar Paper's gold plated sleek design channels sophisticated commuters. Solar Paper is so thin it can literally be folded between pages of a book!
REUSABLE TO-GO CUPS
We all love our daily coffeeshop adventure. While that coffee fills us up, the paper to-go cup it came in eventually fills up the landfill. Reusable to-go cups eliminate that waste. Psychologically, you'll feel even better drinking that cup of joe knowing you cared enough to BYOC [bring your own cup]. Keep Cup is designed to fit under standard espresso and coffee machines. Walk up to your barista with one of these in hand and they will swoon. We love that Keep Cup is customizable. Online ordering provides color and cup material options. I like to call mine, Sunshine. It's yellow. S'well was created to rid the world of plastic water bottles. Hence the obvious shape. These stainless steel bottles now boast 12 hours of heat for your drinks and half a million trees planted for our planet. With partners like American Forests and UNICEF, this to-go option is a swell investment. Ello Hammertime is the thermos you hated in middle school that grew up to be the friend you can't do without. This classic insulated mug will look perfect with your other rose gold must haves.
REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS
Most grocery store chains are on board with the environmentally friendly train. Plastic and paper grocery bags either aren't offered or only at a price. You might as well get on board too. Besides, those thin plastic bags tear way too easily. If you're nostalgic, try Baggu. Their reusable bags mimic and master the iconic plastic bag shape. They're brightly patterned (you'll find more than boobs!) and can hold up to 50 lbs. The boxy square shape has become synonymous with reusable totes and can be quite boring. Ban.do does it right with trendy prints. Mine typically holds 2-3 plastic bags worth of stuff. I love this last option for its craftsmanship and unisex appeal. Apolis is crafted in Bangladesh by a group of moms who are paid fair wages to create them. They're perfect as a gift. Get one customized with city and country or choose from a list of cities around the world.
ORGANIC CHOCOLATE GIFT SETS
Chocolate is one of those simple indulgences. You love it for its purity, its inherent chocolaty-ness. Choosing organic honors that in flavor and health benefits. We tried Theo's in Seattle, discovered Alter Eco in Portland, and found Taza Chocolate in Fort Collins, CO. Get cozy this winter with Theo's velvety smooth drinking chocolate and handmade marshmallows. It's not the watery hot chocolate you're used to. It's a warm, cozy sweater for your soul. This Alter Eco gift box includes 8 chocolate bars and 2 packs of truffles. That may sound like a lot but with flavors like Burnt Butter and Coconut Toffee these bars won't last long. Taza Chocolate is stone ground chocolate crafted with traditional Mexican stone mills to preserve the natural flavors of the cacao bean. The discs in their gift set melt into sweet, bold flavors like Guajillo chili.
ORGANIC COFFEE & TEA GIFT SETS
Spice up that boring, ole coffee and tea routine with these gift sets. Thrive Market, an online sustainable sanctuary, has a kit for the coffee connoisseur. A coffee grinder, organic Kicking Horse coffee, and Better Half, a coconut cream and almond milk creamer. For the tea lover, we suggest Tea Forte's Warming Joy gift set. This set includes 5 holiday tea blends like Rum Raisin Biscotti, Spiced Ginger Plum, and a steeping cup to make it super easy to enjoy. We get it, sometimes it's hard to decide between tea and coffee. Tea lattes are a trendy in between for your indecisive friends and family members. Steven Smith Tea, out of Portland, OR, knows tea. The founder was once the mastermind behind tea brands like Stash and Tazo Teas. His Chocolate Peppermint Latte kit takes you through a DIY crafting experience with peppermint leaves and curated chocolate sauce.
GARDENING STARTER Set
Gardening always creates a sense of peace for me. Communing that closely with nature does wonders for the spirit. Get your loved ones started with a gardening starter gift. This floral print toolset from Anthropologie would inspire any budding gardener. If you're loving it as much as I am you'll be happy to know they have gloves in the same print to match! For a more natural look, try Womanswork leather gauntlet gloves. The buttery leather is stylish, unisex, and protects against thorns. We love the elbow length cuffs. It can make all the difference. This Ashfield Tools set is handcrafted in the U.S. by local suppliers. The ergonomic birch handles and rustic look are sure to please. These four basic tools can easily transition with a novice gardener as they learn and grow more.
SEEDLING STARTER SET
Fresh herbs and spices turn a recipe into a revelation of taste. Okay, maybe, I'm exaggerating but theres nothing like picking parsley right before adding it to pasta. The sleek Amphora basil planter from Cloud Farms can go anywhere you would put a vase of flowers. And, it's just as lovely. For a more bohemian look, this mason jar herb kit from Modern Sprout makes it easy to grow basil, parsley, and mint. Both options are hydroponic systems which cut down on watering for a new gardener. Add a little fun to gardening with a kit that includes all you need to craft your own cocktail. Urban Agriculture Co. offers several recipe kits like Thyme Spritzer, Mini Mojito, and Cilantro Cooler. These seed starter kits are a simple way of introducing a loved one to gardening.
VEGAN/ VEGETARIAN COOKBOOKS
Embrace #meatlessmonday with friends and family. The manufacturing of meat is one of the greatest waste producers in our culture. Gift one of these downloadable cookbooks, save a few animals, and paper at the same time. Thug Kitchen is a no bull shit cookbook. Literally, no bull, no meat. Get it? I have to say I'm partial to anyone who has a passion for our planet and prefers casual use of "curse words". Follow their blog to get verbally abused into a healthier diet. For a subtler approach, Food 52 has a vegan cookbook that will inspire the true foodie in us all. The foodie that covets creativity in their meals regardless of protein options. There aren't any curse words in this one, either. This next cookbook is a powerhouse with 300 recipes from the people who brought us the life changing documentary, Forks over Knives. If you want to be an awesome gift-giver, package the cookbook with the documentary!
If none of these tickle your fancy. Or, maybe you're not interested in shopping. How about the gift of a donation? Donate to a sustainable charity in your loved ones name. On the World Wildlife Fund's website you can actually adopt a snow leopard or even an African elephant. Your donation goes to protecting their natural habitats. A great way to combat climate change is to increase the number of trees planted. The Plant a Billion Trees campaign aims to plant one billion trees by 2025. Help them get there! One Tree Planted wants to make sustainability simple. One dollar equals one tree planted. You can literally donate $1. Your friends and family are worth more trees than that though. The decision when purchasing gifts has always been in your hands. They get whatever you give.