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Eco-Friendly Gifts

The holiday season is officially in session and everyone is ready to party and celebrate with loved ones. Each year when the holidays come around, millions of frenzied parents and last-minute shoppers frantically search for meaningful gifts for their loved ones during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Many people are too wrapped up (pun intended) in the shopping frenzy to think about what they purchase to wrap their holiday gifts with. The vast majority of Americans use wrapping paper that isn’t recyclable to package their gifts.

Additionally, many parents are guilty of buying their children presents that they don’t truly need. Most gifts that kids receive on Christmas will end up in the depths of the closet after being played with for all of 10 minutes. This practice is wasteful and not sustainable.

Although the holidays are a time of joy, it is still tremendously important to keep in mind the impact your actions this holiday season can have on our delicate environment. With this in mind, here are some eco-friendly gifts to put on your wish list this year!


Wrapping Paper

One of the best things you can do to help the environment during the holidays is purchase recyclable wrapping paper to wrap your gifts. In general, recyclable wrapping paper is less shiny and thicker than your normal wrapping paper. A general rule of thumb is any wrapping paper that is sparkly or has texture cannot be recycled.

Most families keep a trash bag near the Christmas tree on Christmas morning to shove heaps of wrapping paper into after eagerly tearing it from their gifts. Recyclable wrapping paper allows you to recycle wrapping paper to be repurposed into something else rather than throwing it out after a single use.

The Scrunch Test

If you find yourself at the store searching for an eco-friendly wrapping paper but can’t seem to figure out which is recyclable and which isn’t, the scrunch test is the way to go.

The scrunch test can be performed by taking a small piece of wrapping paper and scrunching it into a ball. If it remains a ball, it can be recycled. If it reverts back to its flattened state, it most likely is not recyclable.

Being Aware of Labels

Always check labels! This is probably the easiest way to ensure that wrapping paper is recyclable because most recyclable wrapping papers will have a recycling symbol on their labels.

Companies that make recyclable wrapping paper specifically advertise their products to be fashionable and functional. Recyclable wrapping paper is usually plain, but can be made more lively by adding ribbon or bows. In fact, many people argue that recyclable wrapping paper gives your gift a simple, but sophisticated, look.

A couple of companies that produce recyclable wrapping paper include BJ’s and Berkley & Jenson.

Gift Ideas

Bar Soap

Many people choose to gift soap around the holidays because it is a relatively versatile gift with many different scents to choose from depending on a person’s preference. Bar soap is preferable to soaps that come in plastic containers because they lessen the buildup of plastic in landfills and tend to last longer.

Long-lasting soaps reduce waste in general because the recipients of the soap don’t need to purchase new soaps as often. Organic or homemade bar soaps can often be bought from local businesses while larger companies such as Buff City Soap and Lush mass produce them.

Water Bottles

Everyone could use a water bottle for something in their daily routine whether it be to bring to work, go on a run in the morning, or have on the bedside table while you take a nap.

Water bottles come in all different styles, sizes, and colors. The best part is, many companies that produce water bottles make them with durable, long-lasting materials that will keep your water bottle in prime condition for several years.

Using a reusable water bottle is an amazing way to help the environment. Instead of going through 3–4 plastic water bottles per day, simply refill a reusable water bottle 3–4 times a day without wasting any plastic. A reusable straw made of metal or glass along with a reusable water bottle is always a good gift combo!


As discussed in our previous blogs about the fast fashion industry, many clothing manufacturers have huge carbon footprints that they aren’t taking accountability for.

Promote the use of renewable energy sources to manufacture clothing this holiday season by buying clothes from companies that have transitioned to renewable energy. Avoid companies such as Shein, Zara, and Forever 21.

Also, when choosing an article of clothing to buy for a friend or family member, choose durable pieces that will last you a long time and won’t have you running back to the store within a few weeks of your purchase because your newest pair of leggings ripped.


Avoiding cheap jewelry that breaks or rusts easily can help prevent waste from piling up in landfills. Some jewelry brands that promote sustainability and implement eco-friendly practices in production are Brilliant Earth, Aurate, and Soko.

High quality jewelry doesn’t always have to be expensive. It’s not as hard as it may seem to find a piece of jewelry that looks expensive but isn’t in reality. Also, the rise of social media has allowed jewelry-lovers to find reviews for cheap jewelry quickly and easily.

Transitioning to Reusable Products

Hygiene Products

We all use a toothbrush twice a day — at least I hope we all do. The issue is, toothbrushes are almost always made of plastic and over 7 billion people use them. When these toothbrushes are discarded every couple of months, the plastic ends up in landfills and takes hundreds of years to decompose. Instead of using a plastic toothbrush, try purchasing a bamboo toothbrush that you add to the compost after using.

Bamboo tooth floss has also become more popular over the past couple of years as more research has been conducted on the effects of the decomposition of plastic flossers in landfills. Wooden hair brushes will give your bathroom a more homey, rustic vibe, and last up to twice as long as a plastic brush.

Food Products

Instead of using plastic bags to pack your lunch for work or pack your kid’s lunch for school, invest in sealable reusable bags that can be used every day. The average American family uses 500 ziploc bags per year. If we keep using and discarding plastic at this rate, it will be too late to save our environment.

Next time you visit the grocery store, purchase silicone sandwich bags instead of plastic ones. While you’re at it, buy yourself a set of reusable grocery bags that you can use for groceries on every supermarket run.

Sustainability Starter Kit

A sustainability starter kit is a great gift for young environmentalists or those who just love nature in general. These kits include various eco-friendly products, such as reusable bags, towels, and brushes, that can ease one into being more environmentally conscious!



While the holidays are a fun and happy time of year for families around the world, it is extremely important to be aware of the impacts of your actions on the environment and always be doing what you can to take care of it. From recyclable wrapping paper to eco-friendly gifts, the holidays can still be enjoyable while doing your part to keep our Earth clean.

If you liked this blog, check out our Medium profile for more. Stay updated and active by following the Environmental Defense Initiative on Medium and all of our social media platforms!

Author: Ann Catechis

Editor: Emma Mazzotta


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