As I grow older, the more I truly enjoy the process of finding the right gift to give someone. It's easy and pretty guaranteed to pick something off someone's list, but it's even more fun when you can surprise someone with something thoughtful and creative.
Now that the holiday season is here and shopping is in full swing, it's a great time to look for eco-friendly and sustainable gifts for your loved ones, coworkers, or even for those White Elephant parties.
Instead of categorizing my Eco Cajun Gift Guide by recipient, I've broken it down by the different eco-friendly qualities (and sometimes, gifts are more than one of these!) From fair-trade to recycled, to upcycled, to handmade, to vegan, to organic, find the perfect gift - at any price point - for anyone!
|Fair-Trade: Liz Alig | Handmade: Secondline Jewels | Sustainable: Carved | Experiences: Yoga Garden|
Vintage: Sweet and Spark | Reusable: Klean Kanteen
Organic: Bonterra Vineyards | For Children: Schwinn, Paper Culture | Upcycled: A Higher REpurpose
Vegan-Friendly: Mieroglyphs | Chemical-Free: Native Polish | Recycled & Charitable: Hands Producing Hope
There are so many Louisiana-based independent shops and online eco-minded businesses and brands that I couldn't even begin to scratch the surface in one gift guide. Get some store links throughout the guide below, or visit my Resources page for a more comprehensive list of links.
Side note: Most of the brands listed are ones I've shopped from before, or collaborated with. A few were simply found through researching.
Fair-tradeFair-trade goods are made by workers who are paid fair prices and work in better conditions. Many times goods are produced with eco-friendly methods as well. Producers in developing countries get a fair price for their products to reduce poverty, provide for the ethical treatment of workers and farmers, and promote environmentally sustainable practices. Buying fair-trade goods support workers in developing countries much more than conventional goods.
In the gift guide graphic, these Liz Alig gloves are woven by a small cooperative in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and provide employment to women entrepreneurs.
HandmadeHandmade goods make awesome gifts because of their uniqueness and heart. I tend to feel a more personal connection with handmade goods because I know someone really spent time and effort into making them. You can usually buy direct from the maker, or you can find great handmade goods in locally owned shops, which benefits even more people in the community.
In the gift guide, I've got local jewelry brand Secondline Jewels, whose rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces are made from broken or used drum cymbals.
SustainableSustainable materials are ones that leave a smaller impact on the environment, from requiring fewer chemicals or natural resources like water and electricity during production, to being more renewable.
Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, can be used in SO many different ways, and is popular in apparel. Tencel is another sustainable material made from cellulose in wood pulp, and it can be found in sheets and apparel.
Wool is an all-natural, renewable fiber from sheep, has a long lifespan, is one of the most recycled textiles, and is biodegradable.
Cork trees are not cut down when cork is harvested; the bark is simply stripped from the tree. The tree is also able to regenerate its bark during its lifespan. Cork can be made into a vegan leather alternative, and becomes the foundation for Mieroglyphs bracelets.
Featured in the gift guide is a gorgeous cell phone case from Carved. The company uses sustainable wood harvests to make their cases, and everything is made in the United States. I recently purchased a case for my new phone, and I can't wait for it to come in the mail. (Click the link to get a special 10% discount code for your purchase!)
- EcoJot (notebooks and stationery made with 100% recycled paper and sustainable inks)
- Pela Case
ExperiencesYou can always gift someone an experience, providing great memories without a lot of stuff. A gift card for everything from yoga classes to restaurants or coffee shops, to outdoor adventures makes for a great stocking stuffer or main gift.
Giving a gift card doesn't require a big box, tissue paper, or a gift bag, and they can even sometimes be reloadable (therefore, reusable). Beyond that, a gift of an experience is zero-waste!
- Yoga Garden (try out aerial yoga, you know you want to!)
- Down Dog Yoga
- Bayou Teche (oh...did I mention, going for a paddle on the Bayou Teche is fun AND free!?)
- Southern Stone indoor rock climbing
- Cajun Country Swamp Tours
- Get a gift certificate to a local coffee shop that provides discounts if you bring your reusable mug
- Set up a picnic or Frisbee afternoon for your love, BFF, or family at the Moncus Park at the Horse Farm
Vintage/SecondhandShopping vintage or secondhand goods helps extend the life cycle of products. Plus, you can find super unique goods that may no longer be available. From pop art to home decor, to clothing and jewelry, visit local flea markets or consignment shops, or browse online to find that perfect gift.
Sweet and Spark curates a beautiful selection of vintage jewelry, but especially with any vintage finds, you've got to act quickly!
ReusableI always say investing in a few reusable items is the first step to making a greener impact on the planet. Help someone get started on the reusable path by gifting them a water bottle, coffee mug, or even coffee filters or K-Cups. You've heard me sing the praises of Klean Kanteen before, but I seriously think it's one of the best changes to make first. I still have my first Klean Kanteen I bought over eight years ago! (And it most recently held locally made Bayou Satsuma Rum!)
OrganicOrganic items are produced without chemicals. For example, an organic cotton t-shirt means the cotton was grown and farmed without the use of pesticides. Choosing chemical-free has many benefits for your health, your children and the environment.
Beyond clothing or textiles, you can find organic foods, wines and chocolate, which is definitely a festive and healthier gift - perfect for the foodie in your life! A not-so-clever hint: you can find a LOT of well-priced organic food items at Whole Foods Market.
The gift guide features an organic Cabernet from Bonterra Vineyards.
- Frey Vineyards
- Alter Eco Foods (chocolates, truffles, quinoa and rice)
- Bambeco (a large variety of organic products, from food to bedding)
- Winter Water Factory (adult and children's clothing)
For ChildrenIf you've got children and they don't have a bicycle, now is the perfect time to teach them the ways of eco-friendly transportation and inexpensive fun times! Schwinn is popular for their children's bikes (and adult ones too), and they've got all the safety gear you need.
For a fun, personalized gift, Paper Culture has great eco-friendly games and decorations, like this personalized memory game. It's educational, to teach relationships and important people, and it's cute and fun!
Recycled/UpcycledRecycled items can be either pre-consumer or post-consumer. Pre-consumer recycled material is what's salvaged in production before a product is distributed. Post-consumer recycled material is what's made from items you throw into your recycling bin, like any items containing RPET.
Upcycling is a form of recycling where the new product is different or more creative than its original version. Upcycled products make great gifts! Think garden accessories, candles or wind chimes made from wine bottles. Gifts made with recycled metal are also a great choice.
Back to the gift guide: Hands Producing Hope sells a few different baskets that are made with recycled plastic bags. (The organization is also charitable and fair-trade.)
And the candles from A Higher REpurpose are always some of my favorites. They hit three of the sustainability categories I touch on today: upcycled, handmade, and local! (Check out my blog feature on AHR, formerly known as Syrup Row.)
Upcycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. - See more at: http://hipcycle.com/what-is-upcycling#sthash.LVP8zOox.dpuf
LocalSupporting locally owned businesses and artisans is a great way to support your community's economy. Continue the momentum from Small Business Saturday, and shop local for many of your Christmas gifts. Local retailers carry so many unique items perfect for gifts. And don't forget your local artisans! Every community has a crop of talented people who make great unique items from jewelry to home decor and art, to even clothing and holiday decorations.
- Red Arrow Workshop (sad side note: this holiday season will be their last month in business, so PLEASE, go visit and shop and help them go out on a really high note!)
- 2 Chicas jewelry
- Hub City Cycles
- Goods that Matter
- Clothing Loft
- Hey Tiger Vintage Goods
- Lagniappe Records
CharitableCharitable gifts can go two ways: tangible and intangible. Many charities have online shops where you can find gifts, and proceeds go toward funding the charity. By giving a charitable gift for the holidays, you're really giving twice!
Or you can simply make a donation in someone's name, without getting anything in return (except for your receipt for tax purposes, amiright!?)
- Charity:Water uses all proceeds from their store fund their clean water projects.
- The World Wildlife Fund has a variety of gifts you can choose when you make a donation.
- In my 2015 Giving Tuesday blog post, I share a list of some eco-friendly nonprofits.
Chemical-Free and Vegan-FriendlyMaybe not everyone enjoys getting cleaning products for Christmas, but for those who want to have a more natural and chemical-free home, it can be a great gift. For something a bit more fun and glamorous, look for chemical-free makeup and nail polish.
I wrote more about my journey to natural makeup earlier this year in preparation for my wedding. Tarte and Ecco Bella are two brands I really enjoy using so far.
When it comes to nail polish, brands like OPI and Essie are both three-free (learn the meaning in my blog post on greener manis), but my current favorite is the New Orleans brand Native Polish. Their polishes are seven-free and vegan friendly. So obvs, the nail polishes don't eat meat, dairy, or animal products. (Okay fine, they just don't contain any animal byproducts.)
Now...ShippingSome sustainable companies go beyond just focusing on the kind of goods they sell, and commit to extra practices like planting a tree with every order placed (something eco-stationery company Paper Culture does), shipping in recycled boxes with paper packaging material, or even offering carbon-free shipping. Online retailer Bambeco is one that offers carbon-free shipping, which means they use minimal packaging made from recycled materials, work with shipping carriers that offer greener options, and eliminate their carbon impact in 100% of their shipments.
With Carbonfree® shipping through Carbonfund.org, they offset unavoidable emissions, supporting renewable energy and achieving their goal of delivering carbon free. So far, they’ve kept over 236 metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.
If you mail your own gifts, choose sustainable packaging! Reuse boxes and packaging material instead of buying new. If you sell gifts online or just have a lot to ship out, consider investing in more sustainable packaging, like envelopes and boxes from EcoEnclose.
Now, go forth and have fun shopping!
For more green company and brand listings, visit: