What better way to celebrate and participate in the season of giving than with gifts that truly keep on giving? Here are just a few of our favorite discoveries this year of products we'd be thrilled to give and receive.
Anti-waste clothing and gear
Image credit: Brita
For the growing little gremlins in your life:
Upchoose may just be a dream come true for new and expectant parents — the new platform offers soft, sustainable, organic baby clothes in curated sets for each stage of growth (for rental or purchase). When a baby outgrows the clothes, they can be returned for another set in bigger sizes — the returned clothes are cleaned and sold to someone with a smaller child, eliminating some of the egregious waste inherent in the children’s apparel industry.
The ugly Christmas sweater that doubles as a PSA:
For the holiday season, Brita — itself an antidote to our plastic-bottle pollution problem — is shining a light on our ugly water bottle habit with its Ugliest Ugly Sweater collection, woven from single-use plastic waste. The limited-edition collection features five distinctly “ugly” sweater designs, inspired by the traditional tacky holiday sweater, but featuring imagery of plastic waste and its ugly impact on the environment.
For those who like to #OptOutside (or upside-down):
Here are some upleveled gear and clothing options for your active loved ones:
Sustainably made yoga mats and accessories from Yoga Design Lab: These mats — made from materials such as cork, sueded microfiber (made of recycled plastic bottles) and natural tree rubber, printed with water-based inks — benefit more than just the yogis who use them.
Used apparel and gear from REI, Arc’teryx and The North Face allow consumers to suit up for outdoor adventures with top-quality, refurbished products for an affordable price and reduced environmental impact. And Ogio’s ALPHA Convoy collection of backpacks repurpose discarded plastic into durable products that are designed to last.
To complete the look — footwear that helps us tread more lightly: Denmark-based Rockay makes high-performance running socks from recycled ocean plastic. Flip-flops made from the aptly named Green Flip Flops, based in Brazil, are 100 percent recyclable and made from renewable, plant-based materials such as soy and sugarcane; the Recycled Black line is just that. Speaking of recycling, Nothing New’s sneakers are a dead ringer for classic Converse, only with recycled plastic uppers.
And you can always take your sustainable-shoe commitment even further, with our climate-neutral favorite, Allbirds; and terrain-ready boots and shoes from Sweden’s Icebug, which earlier this year became the world’s first climate-positive outdoor footwear brand.
And there’s nothing better than the ability to take your tunes with you outdoors — without pesky wires. Earlier this year, House of Marley introduced the Liberate Air — next-generation wireless earbuds with a 9-hour on board battery life; designed using bamboo, recyclable aluminum and signature REWIND™ fabric composed of recycled plastic bottles for truly sustainable sound. Added bonus: House of Marley’s Project Marley is helping to sustain the outdoors through a global reforestation partnership with One Tree Planted.
For the conscientious epicureans in your life
Image credit: Cooks Who Feed
1 apron = 100 meals:
Cooks Who Feed aprons are creating impact on multiple levels: Their production is providing job training and secure wages to underprivileged women in India; and for each apron sold, the company donates 100 meals to those in need by partnering with nonprofits that rescue food waste — to date, Cooks Who Feed says its giving partners have served over 20 million meals by using food that would have otherwise been thrown out.
Chocolate that shares the wealth:
The Other Bar – a UN- and Fairchain Foundation-backed social experiment, launched in October, gives consumers the power to take a bite out of poverty through the simple act of buying a chocolate bar. Through a unique token system, customers can direct proceeds from their purchase back to the cocoa farmers or toward a discount on future purchases. For the holidays, the company has partnered with Moyee — the world’s first fairchain coffee — for the perfect gift pack.
Other ethical indulgences include chocolate from Tony’s Chocolonely — which is on a mission to create a 100 percent slave-free cocoa supply chain in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, both notorious for human rights abuses on cocoa farms; and Theo Chocolate — the first organic, fair-trade, bean-to-bar chocolate producer in the US — which is providing safe, secure livelihoods for cocoa farmers in Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo (another country with a nasty history).
Whether you enjoy wine or gin, vodka or hard kombucha, these adult beverages provide benefits beyond the buzz … Bonterra’s organic and biodynamic wine-cultivation processes increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil — such regenerative ag practices will be a critical component in fighting climate change. Speaking of grapes, UK-based Foxhole Spirits found a unique way to recycle an estimated 166 million surplus table grapes — by turning them into premium Hyke Gin.
Meanwhile, JuneShine is a delightful, organic hard kombucha that’s easy on the environment in many more ways than one; and each bottle of Air Vodka removes a pound of CO2 from the atmosphere — equivalent to the daily CO2 intake of eight trees.
Better beauty and pampering
Image credit: BeeSpa
For your favorite earth-conscious glamourpuss, there’s a growing selection of biodegradable glitter — from companies such as Bioglitz and Today Glitter — so he or she can be at their glittery finest, guilt-free. And EcoLips’ vast selection of certified-organic, cruelty-free and ultra-affordable Lip Food, balms/oils, scrubs and tints will make them feel pretty and pampered, even on their more casual days.
Speaking of pampering, Life Elements has a lovely line of CBD bath bombs, scrubs and oils for relaxation and pain relief; and BeeSpa’s rich hand and foot creams not only nourish dry skin, they support local pollinators and beekeepers.
Wrapping (or, the fly in the ointment of sustainable gift-giving)
No matter how sustainable your gifts, what they’re wrapped in can still often be problematic, in terms of waste: The glossy, laminated finish of most gift wrap makes it unrecyclable — the same goes for paper with metallic, glitter or textured finishes; tape remnants can even make recyclable paper unrecyclable; and most ribbons, bows and holiday cards are also not accepted at recycling centers, for the same reasons. Including any of the above in a bin with other paper products might make an entire batch unrecyclable.
But, fear not! A little research and creativity will reveal a growing array of waste-free wrapping options, including:
reusable gift bags and decorative boxes
what The Tiny Box Company calls “the most ethical recycled ribbon,” which is made from recycled clear plastic bottles and is recyclable with textiles
Lots of other creative, sustainable wrapping ideas here.
Oh, and let's not forget about cards – try and only buy those without problematic elements such as glitter, ribbons and cellophane wrappers.
Image credit: RePack
The whole online shopping — and returning — process is riddled with waste, both in packaging and product. But several new solutions are working to correct that: Two new platforms, Shop Your Fit and FlipFit, aim to eliminate waste from online clothes shopping. And more and more forward-thinking retailers are using reusable packaging solutions such as RePack (participating retailers) and Returnity (participating retailers) to cut down on the mountains of plastic and cardboard packaging waste.
Happy holidays from the SB team!
Main article image — L-R, top: Brita’s Ugliest Ugly Sweater (image courtesy of Brita), mat from Yoga Design Lab, a LUSH reusable knot wrap, Rockay socks, House of Marley earbuds; Bottom: EcoLips balm, Life Elements vegan CBD bath bomb, Today Glitter, an Upchoose onesie, Nothing New sneakers.