It’s December which means it’s time to trim the tree, hang the wreath, string the lights and gather around the dinner table in the company of family and friends. 'Tis also the season to show appreciation for loved ones, exchanging gifts carefully selected for their interests, wants and needs. From stocking stuffers to hosting gifts to the ones we gingerly place beneath the tree, eco-minded gift givers will be paying special attention to prioritizing merriment over materialism this holiday season. We’ve rounded up 30 sustainable gifts that are so useful and beautiful, no receiver would dare re-gift them.
Editor's note: In curating this gift list, we have chosen to emphasize goods and brands that put planet before profits. Given the state of global supply chains, we've also prioritized gifts that can be ordered from Canadian retailers or artisans. Happy shopping!
30. Tru Earth eco-strips laundry detergent
A gift that’s as clever as it is practical because, after all, everyone does laundry. These featherweight, no-water-added eco-strips are especially appreciated by people who do their shopping on foot (have you ever lugged a jug of laundry detergent all the way home?) or those living in a setting with shared laundry. And when you gift Tru Earth—which is free of any plastic packaging—it’s a gift to the planet, too. Available online or in select retailers.
29. The Merino/Cashmere Toque
With its lifetime guarantee—as in, send it back if it snags or breaks—Ecologyst is the antithesis of fast-fashion. The Merino/Cashmere Toque is the perfect winter accessory to bring warmth to the ones you love. Made of merino wool and cashmere re-spun from garments and off-cuts that otherwise would have ended up as waste, it’s a literal feel-good good. The toque is gender-neutral, can be worn cuffed or un-cuffed, and (adorably) comes in a toddler-kid size for the parent who loves to "twin" their kid.
28. Unisex joggers
Declaring itself as “like, the Earth's number one fan,” and offering clothes made of recycled plastics (like fish nets), Girlfriend Collective is a slow fashion lovers dream brand. We’ll be gifting "cozy" this season in the form of eco-friendly 50/50 Relaxed Fit Joggers made from a blend of organic cotton and recycled scraps that were found on cutting room floors. These joggers are gender-neutral, size inclusive from XXXS-6XL and available in a range of earthy neutrals. And yes, there’s a matching sweatshirt for a total eco-crew look.
27. The Festival Hat
Fashion meets function meets form—meets forest? Tentree’s Festival Hat might not fit inside a stocking (get a bigger stocking?) but it will fit an eco-friendly lifestyle. Made from 100% recycled wool and offered in a host of earthy neutrals, this unisex, easy-to-style hat completes a winter wardrobe. Plus, 720 reviews averaging 5 stars can’t be wrong. Alongside your purchase, Tentree will plant 10 trees, helping the company achieve its "one billion trees planted" pledge by 2030.
26. The Melton Wool Blanket
Anián, a clothing company headquartered in Victoria, B.C., is dedicated to the circular economy, making goods from recycled natural fibre textiles. (Now that’s what we’re talking about!) The company notes: “Where the road for discarded clothing ends, our textile sourcing begins.” The brand has plenty of giftable goods and accessories, but we especially love the heavyweight Melton Wool Blanket. Go ahead, adore it for its looks but know that this blanket was made entirely with post-consumer recycled wool. It’s dense, durable and has a water-resistant weave, to boot. This cozy blanket is manufactured with a unique dye-free process that saves water and avoids harmful chemicals. It is available in camel (pictured), burgundy, light grey, charcoal, olive, dark navy and brown.
25. Wool dryer balls
Trade jingle bells for wool dryer balls—and less static. This set of four is constructed from high quality, organic wool imported from New Zealand—no filler to be found here. This is the gift of softer laundry (sans synthetic chemicals), shorter drying time and energy savings.
Round out this eco-gift with some essential oil. Apply a few drops to the balls, then start the dryer and voila, pretty-smelling laundry.
24. Creative confections
Not only are Zimt Chocolates’ confections totally drool-worthy (maple smoked salt + rosemary, anyone?), they’re organic, entirely vegan and sweetened with coconut sugar which is more environmentally sustainable than cane sugar. Choose between 100% biodegradable packaging or go zero waste.
23. Beeswax & honey, for a cause
When you gift a hand-poured beeswax candle, propolis tincture or tasty neighbourhood honey from Hives for Humanity, you’re giving a small batch artisanal gift while connecting community with nature. Each sale supports the not-for-profit’s work of installing apiaries in urban settings like Vancouver's downtown Eastside.
22. Reusable bamboo rounds
Is there a beauty lover on your wish list? These ultrasoft, reusable bamboo make-up remover pads are easy on sensitive eyelids. Ditch the disposables; this 14-piece set will last 1,000 uses, each.
21. Cruelty-free, organic beauty essentials
Beauty brands have had a longstanding relationship with plastic packaging, mysterious ingredients and in some cases, animal testing. Not Elate, an ethical beauty brand with B-Corp status based in Victoria, B.C. Elate cosmetics are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Ingredients are 75% organic and not only is the bamboo packaging beautiful, it’s engineered to be re-usable. For the gifting season, Elate has assembled a variety of bundles that can be shopped here.
20. Zero waste shampoo & conditioner
Salon quality hair and beauty products don’t have to come wrapped in plastic—or from a salon, for that matter. Bottle None is a B.C.-based, zero waste business taking the plastic and water out of traditional face, hair and body goods. Top up a stocking with a natural deodorant, shampoo or conditioner bar, face wash, moisturizing body stick or a travel set.
19. Plastic-free safety razor
Help the beard owner in your life go green by ditching throwaway razors. A safety razor helps reduce plastic waste and they result in a better shave. Plus, they look pretty slick. A full line of plastic-free shave essentials including this Hoxton Shave Co. razor can be shopped in-store and online at Calgary retailer Kent of Inglewood.
18. Hemp bath bombs
Bath bombs: they're a gift that says, “take time for yourself.” This three-piece set from Basic Goods Trading Co. is made from natural ingredients including organic cold-pressed hemp oil (to alleviate stress and leave skin feeling rejuvenated) and magnesium sulfate which helps reduce lactic acid build-up in muscles. Pink is grapefruit, purple is lavender and white is unscented. Gift them as a set, split them up or keep one for yourself. (We won’t tell Santa.)
17. An all-natural deodorant
Encapsulated entirely in 100% recyclable paper-based packaging, Dom's Deodorant is an easy stocking stuffer that makes switching from conventional to natural sticks a breeze. They’re all-vegan, made with 90% organic ingredients and contain no harmful chemicals like benzene. Available in vanilla/mint (“sweet and fresh”) and pepper lime (“fruity with a spicy undertone”) for all-day odor control. Check here to find a retailer near you.
This neat product is a perfect stocking stuffer for zero waste enthusiasts. An alternative to single-use cotton swabs, LastSwab is made from recycled plastic and housed in a corn-based carrying case. Simply clean with water and soap (disinfect with rubbing alcohol to sanitize, when necessary) to reuse up to 1,000 times. LastSwab is available on Amazon.ca but smaller eco-retailers carry it, too.
15. Zero waste botanical soap
With names like pumpkin spice and London fog, you might be wondering, is it soap or dessert? Smell, don’t eat these pretty bars of organic, vegan soaps. Locally made in Vancouver, Jack and Audrey’s Organics small batch artisanal soaps use fair trade organic shea butter, cocoa butter and are free of palm oil, soy and nuts. Shop at presslandgeneral.ca. or find a retailer here.
14. Beeswax snack bags
Say “adios” to single-use plastic bags and hello to beeswax. We like beeswax wraps as an alternative to cellophane and tin foil, but we love these snack pouches even more. They’re well suited to toting fruit and veggies, nuts, chips, crackers and sandwiches. And yes, they’re 100% biodegradable, too. This stocking stuffer is perfect for the parent or lunch-packing commuter in your life.
13. The perfect to-go mug
Whether your gift recipient is a coffee or tea drinker, sipping from a Joco mug is a sweet act of rebellion for planet Earth. The brand launched in 2008 (“born out of protest” against disposable culture), introducing its fashionable flagship to-go cup and later introducing bottles, straws and glassware. All goods are made with durable materials and designed to last a lifetime. We recommend shopping direct or local, but in a pinch, Joco reusable cups are available on Chapters or Amazon.
12. Swedish dishcloths
Step away from the socks; Swedish dishcloths make for much better stocking stuffers. Made of a cellulose-cotton blend, these dishcloths can be tossed in the upper tray of a dishwasher and air-dried. When it comes to retiring them, they go in the compost (not the garbage) because they’re 100% biodegradable. Plus, Swedish dishcloths are super absorbent—meaning your gift recipient can finally divorce paper towels once and for all.
11. Bambu Spork
ecoandarmour.com / Bambu
This clever gift is perfect for the commuter in your life. Forget single-use plastic utensils, the beauty of this spork is in its lightweight, compact design. Made from a single piece of USDA-certified organic bamboo, Bambu Sporks are naturally stain-resistant, anti-microbial and come with a cork cover. Toss it in your bag and go.
10. The Mugs
Spark joy by gifting a set of Fable’s pottery-inspired, Portuguese-made mugs in whimsical blush pink or classic speckled white. This Canadian retailer of (mostly) ceramic home goods is dedicated to achieving zero waste, using recycled clay materials and eco-friendly packaging to ship its tableware. With a pending B-Corp status, it’s an A+ gift.
9. Handmade, reclaimed leather earrings
Big on personality but made of reclaimed leather for lightweight wear, SCANDINAZN accessories are perfect for the fashion lover on your gift list. Each piece is hand crafted and designs draws on Jamie Carlson’s Swedish Japanese heritage: clean, geometric aesthetic of Scandinavia meets Japanese fabric and pattern stylings. Carlson’s brand of sustainable, ethical jewelry aims to bring awareness to fast fashion and fashion waste. Shop her website or find her on Etsy.
8. Upcycled amber hoops
You’d never guess that FAIR. brand jewelry’s best-selling amber earrings are made from recycled materials. In a former life, the amber ovals were once a glass bottle. But don’t be fooled—FAIR. is firmly anti-fast fashion, designing high quality piece for a lifetime of wear. This easy-to-wear style will suit minimalists who appreciate an eco-conscious sparkle. Plus, when you shop FAIR., you’re supporting a small Canadian, Asian woman-owned and led business.
7. Ethical fine jewelry
Foe & Dear
Some occasions are traditionally celebrated by gifting gold. But it’s 2021 and there’s no reason not to opt for recycled metals and conflict-free gems. Enter Foe & Dear, a fine jewelry brand that has the environment, ethical business practices and diversity on the mind. From $20 classic hammered stacking rings to charm bracelents to gem studs and beyond, there’s a gift to suit all styles and budgets.
6. Upcycled toy kits
If there’s a tot on your gift list, shop the circular economy with Tiny Toy Co., a Toronto-based not-for-profit social enterprise that gives old toys new life. Here’s how it works: unwanted, gently used toys, pieces, books and games are collected and corralled to become curated early learning gifts, from S.T.E.M bins to themed toy collections.
5. We are Water Protectors
We are Water Protectors is a moving children’s story inspired by North American Indigenous-led movements that address aspects of the climate crisis—in an age-appropriate way. Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal and a #1 New York Times Bestseller, this lyrical, stunningly illustrated book is sure to be a bedtime favourite for pint-size eco-warriors. Shop your local bookstore or order from Chapters.
4. Bee Garden Blend seeds
West Coast Seeds
If you have a gardener in your life, you can be assured that even in the depths of winter, they’ve got florals on the mind. This year, skip the bow-wrapped poinsettia and gift a Bee Garden Blend from West Coast Seeds instead. Not only does your gift recipient get to enjoy wildflowers the likes of poppies, echinacea and coneflowers blooming from spring through fall, bees and butterflies will appreciate them, too. (And that’s a win for the rewilding movement.)
3. A surprise trip
Guess Where Trips
Gift the travel lover in your life the thrill of a mystery trip, close to home. Guess Where Trips will send a pretty box containing four or so envelopes which will direct them through a themed, one-day road trip. There are currently itineraries for the Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, London and Halifax areas. Themes run the gambit, from outdoor adventure to quirky and undiscovered gems to Christmas taste trails. It’s a fantastic way to explore a new place or re-discover the delights of your own postal code. Even better, it’s a day with friends or family that no one has to plan.
2. Become a whale mama / whale dada
This year, gift the joy of “parenthood” through the (figurative) adoption of a false killer whale, humpback whale or bottlenose dolphin. The program is operated by the Pacific Whale Foundation and adoptions support the organization’s conservation and research efforts. Each gift recipient will receive a physical package that includes a certificate of adoption and their animal's biography. They will also receive emails which include updates about re-sightings. We love this gift because it’s a green, clean and plastic-free way to celebrate ocean wildlife while being part of a growing movement to protect fragile marine ecosystems.
1. Adopt an endangered species
Help endangered and threatened species in Canada with a symbolic gift from The Nature Conservancy of Canada. The Adopt a Species program includes—but is not limited—to grizzly bears, wolves, snowy owls, bald eagles, narwhal, plains bison, wolverines, Canada lynx, polar bears and Atlantic puffins. Gift recipients get a package that includes a 2022 NCC calendar, 10-page full-colour species booklet and a certificate.