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  • Michele Gerstel

Gifting Greener Is Easy With These Ideas

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Mnimizing materialism can be challenging during the Holiday Season. We want to be generous and give to those we care about and who have helped us throughout the year. But how can we do this in a way that is environmentally friendly and sustainable? What if we could gift in a way that might even inspire others to go green themselves?

We have some suggestions for giving this year that show you care for the planet which could inspire family and friends to do the same.

  • Great gifts don’t have to be new

Many of us older folks are blessed to have special family mementos, inherited objects, treasured photos, etc. Why wait until the end of our lives to pass them along? Even small but special items can make great gifts, especially if you include the story behind the object and why you want that person to have it. When shopping, think secondhand, antique, used books or flea market.

  • Give an experience, not a thing

Consider giving tickets (to museums, lecture series, parks, mini golf), or lessons (cooking, pottery, language, sewing) or gift certificates that support local businesses or restaurants.

  • Everyone loves homemade

Jams, breads, cookies are the usual, but also think healthy, like granola or home roasted nuts. Have a garden? Dry herbs or bay leaves and place in recycled glass jars with your own label. Have a lemon tree? Make homemade limoncello! You don’t have to be a seamstress or craftsman. It’s not hard to make natural homemade soaps, body lotion, lip balm, even toothpaste—how cool is that? Check out Trash Is For Tossers for ideas (see below).

  • If buying something new, think plastic-free and sustainable!

Here are a few links to get you started. Some of these retailers have sampler boxes or starter kits that make great gifts.


The store is open! Plan a visit to this eco-marketplace (COVID guidelines permitting). Great gift ideas, books, toxic-free toys and children’s products, environmentally and socially responsible products, cookbooks, gardening guides, and recycled paper products. The ecology center operates 3 farmers' markets, and their website has tons of educational material on zero waste and sustainable living.

San Jose’s first zero waste shop and soap refill store. Shop for holiday gift packages, bath and kitchen products, home goods and cleaning supplies, all with refillable containers or zero waste packaging.


Offers plastic-free essentials as well as informative and educational news articles (at bottom of webpages). Has seasonal boxes (“samplers”) you can subscribe to, or give as gifts.

And of course, there’s the book, “Life Without Plastic” which serves as a go-to reference not only for those just getting started, but for those looking to expand their impact with sustainable living.

Compiles a wide variety of eco-friendly, sustainable household, office, and kitchen items, plus toys and clothes from a variety of merchants. Great site to browse and get ideas!

Online retailer that sells carefully selected eco-friendly and ethically sourced products made in the US or in fair-trade businesses around the world. They offer elegant and simple home goods, furniture, gifts, clothing and accessories—all sustainably made and ethically sourced. Made Trade values artistry over efficiency, and fair wages over profits.

This small business was founded in Aspen, Colorado, to inform people about the real and negative impacts single-use plastic has on our health and the planet. EcoRoots offers high quality and affordable products that help you reduce waste. Be sure to check out their Zero Waste Blog for terrific suggestions for gifts and for reducing waste during the holidays.

This family owned and operated business is based in the US and Canada. Their mission is to help people improve their quality of life by offering information and products for sustainable living. Much of their focus is on education as well as products—be sure to see their LEARN pages, full of “how to” articles (e.g., The Easiest Way to Start Composting Now; Plastic-Free Grocery Shopping Made Easy; Non-Toxic Cleaning and Disinfecting…) They sell great products for home, garden, camping and they have incredible gift ideas! Check out their natural cedar raised beds (assemble in seconds!):

This is the retail space for Trash is for Tossers (see below), filled with excellent suggestions for your zero waste shopping and gift giving.

Comprehensive resource for learning how to reduce your waste, live plastic-free, AND reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals in store-bought products by making your own or by shopping at recommended sites. This is a great place to get DIY ideas for cooking and self-care products from natural ingredients, which also make great homemade gifts! If you’re not a DIYer and want to purchase items, see the Trash is for Tossers Package Free shopping site.

Gifting Green Has Other Benefits

By “gifting green” this year, you can share ideas that help reduce waste, raise awareness regarding eco-friendly living, and encourage others to incorporate more sustainable products into their routines.

Do you have a favorite item or website you’d like to share with other Newsletter readers? Let us know!

Send your idea, suggestion or comment to GreenTown’s Zero Waste Team at

Happy Green Holidays from GreenTown Los Altos!

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