12 Sustainable, Ethical, Vegan or Zero Waste Gifts for the 2021 Holidays
2021 was a catalyst year for many of us when it came to combating climate change and making more ethical purchasing decisions. Between the IPCC climate change report, COP26, or the literal fire in the middle of the ocean, people are running to sustainable products and ethical alternatives. If you're knee deep in holiday dread, wondering how you’ll save the planet all while ensuring you don’t support some billionaire’s pointless trip to space, we want you to know you have options.
There are plenty of sustainable and ethical holiday gifts that your friends and family will love. These gifts won’t hurt the environment, won’t exploit humans or animals, and won’t end up in landfills at the end of their life cycle. In fact, some of our options are literally impossible to put in landfills. We know that you may have been conditioned to believe that the newest and most expensive gift is the highest indicator of love. But our holiday gifts prove that’s not the case.
We’ve curated twelve sustainable, ethical, vegan, or zero waste gifts for the 2021 holiday season, many of which don’t require you to buy a tangible thing. And the very last suggestion might surprise you.
The Thrifty Holiday Gift: Re-Gifting 101
Some of you probably just gasped at this idea because someone once hammered into your brain that re-gifting something is rude. Well guess what? They were wrong. Re-gifting something is not rude, in fact, it’s one of the most impactful ways to boycott unethical corporations and excessive waste. We don’t recommend giving junk you don’t like to someone else in the hopes they’ll like it, but rather taking stock of what you have that someone else may love. A lot of us have things in our homes that we’ve never used that will bring daily joy to someone else. So, empty your cupboards, tear up that closet, and double check your storage before you ever step foot in a store or hop online.
If this idea makes you too uncomfortable, you’re really not going to like the last one.
The Zero Waste Kitchen Gift: Ethikli’s Dish Washing Set
If you have a friend who’s ready to take the leap in making their kitchen zero waste, say no more! Our zero waste dishwashing set is the perfect sustainable gift to help them get started. 400 million sponges alone are sent to landfills each year. Can you picture a dirty sponge, floating in the ocean or sinking onto a coral reef? Yeah - none of us are cool with that.
This dish set gets rid of that nasty sponge scenario, and comes with 1 solid dish soap, 1 large wooden soap dish, 1 coconut dish brush, and 1 zero waste kitchen sponge. Our burlap and coconut sponge is completely compostable. So instead of polluting our oceans at the end of its life cycle, it will be providing nutrient rich soil to flowers, food, or native plants. That’s the kind of impact we should expect and value in our holiday gifts.
The Sustainable Green Thumb Gift: Herb Garden
A consumable gift is a gift that once you’ve used all of it, it’s gone. Some examples are a bar of soap or festive Christmas trail mix. These gifts are great choices because once you’re done with them they’re literally gone.
One consumable gift idea we love is an herb garden. Lots of herbs can be grown indoors during colder winter months. You’ll be giving someone the opportunity to enjoy fresh herbs without a carbon footprint. Make sure you select a sustainable pot, like wood, clay or bamboo rather than plastic. Here are some herbs that can be grown inside:
One quick note - be sure to give this to someone who has great windows in their home. These indoor herbs need at least six hours of direct sunlight to grow.
The Zero Waste on the Go Gift: Ethikli’s Organic Cotton Shopping Bag Set and/or Travel Cutlery Set
Being prepared is key to living a low waste lifestyle. That means having reusable shopping bags, produce bags, and travel cutlery on hand. Ethikli’s organic cotton shopping bag set, or our travel cutlery set are great gifts for someone trying to avoid single use plastic, or paper bags.
The shopping bag set comes with a one canvas tote bag, 3 mesh produce bags and 2 cotton muslin produce bags.
The cutlery set comes complete with a hand carved fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, and bamboo straw, with a straw cleaner!
The Mindful Sustainable Gift: Ethikli’s Meditation Cushion
This mindful, socially conscious (and hand crafted) gift is made of repurposed materials found in California. It’s perfect for the yogi in your life, or if you know someone who’s trying to spend more time meditating in 2022. It allows you to sit for short and long periods of time with extra comfort. If the person you give it to ever decides that they don’t want it, they can gift it to someone else (yep, we mentioned re-gifting twice in one blog post?!) Or the whole cushion is compostable at the end of its life.
The Sustainable Fashion Gift: Ethikli’s Vanna Romper
This sustainable gift is a great choice for the fashionable person in your life. The Vanna Romper is ethically hand stitched from up-cycled cotton gauze saved from going to landfill. While it’s ideal for summer, a cardigan over the top of it in the fall or spring makes it a great choice for three out of four seasons. Pick between black or sage, but care for either color by washing on a cold cycle (with Ethikli’s gentle laundry detergent) and hanging it to dry. This is a piece of clothing that, with proper care, will last for years rather than being a fast fashion piece.
There’s also no judgement if you buy this for yourself in celebration of finishing all your holiday shopping!
The Experience Gift: Spend Time in Your Community
Supporting organizations in your local community by giving experiences is a great way to give without a physical gift. We recommend choosing places that don’t exploit animals for human entertainment. Also, look for places that aren’t wasteful with their practices and champion sustainability. Here are a couple of spots we love for anyone who, like us, resides in Long Beach!
- See a show at the Art Theater
- Explore the coast with Catalina Adventure Tours
- Take a walk through the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
- Learn at Scholars Collective
Grab tickets for someone you love and take the trip together! If you’re not a Long Beacher, be sure you explore the great experiences in your own city. Share them in the comments for others to reference, too!
The Luxury Eco-Friendly Gift: Ethikli’s Relaxed Linen Mid-Length Robe
This luxury robe is a handmade, high quality, linen robe that looks great on everyone and gets softer with time. It comes with pockets and a waist tie, making it extra functional for at home and vacation use. Hand wash or wash on a cold water gentle cycle. Lay flat to dry. If you didn’t think you could find a luxury gift that’s also eco-friendly, think again. Even the snobbiest of snobs will love how soft (and sustainable) this robe is.
Fun fact: the meditation cushion we mentioned earlier pairs great with this robe, as both items are made by the same hands. Learn more about one of our makers, Chelsea Lensing.
The Sustainable Beauty Gift: Ethikli’s Exfoliating Agave Fiber Washcloth
On first impression, this washcloth might seem too brittle and stiff to rub against your face. But, if you literally just add water, this washcloth softens and becomes the perfect texture to exfoliate your skin. This product is great for your skin and doesn’t harm the environment. At the end of your washcloth’s life cycle, it can be composted.
No makeup or dry skin can withstand its texture. Grime? Not on your face. Use it with our consumable soap to give the beauty connoisseur in your life a radiant, zero waste look!
The Sustainable Living Gift: Ethikli’s Gift Card
If you don’t know what to get someone but are also *dying* to get them something, opt with letting the receiver make their own decision by giving them a gift card. Yes, we’re completely redefining how to gift well. Re-gift, thrift, give them a gift card - the rules no longer exist.
Let’s rethink and unlearn everything around the best way to gift, as it often supports giant organizations’ greed rather than sustainability, ethical shopping, or the true holiday spirit.
By giving someone a gift card rather than guessing what someone may want you’ll ensure they purchase something they’ll actually need. AKA - no trips to landfills. You’ll also be giving them the autonomy to make the purchase when they need it, like after the holidays if money can be a little tight. You can choose between $10 - $300 one one of our gift cards. It’s a great way to give someone a gift they will actually use.
The Socially Conscious Gift: A Charity Donation
What’s the point in trying to find an item for the person who has everything? We don’t need to get everyone a physical item each holiday season. Instead, if you know someone who has everything, you can make a charitable donation on their behalf. Gift them a seed card with a note on the inside mentioning the organization you donated to.
Here are couple of charities that we love that support a variety of sustainable and vegan causes:
- The Gentle Barn
- Food Bank of Southern California
- Food Empowerment Project
- Sierra Club Foundation
- Fruit Tree Planting Foundation
- World Resource institute
- The Sea Shepherd
The Ultimate 2021 Gift: Nothing!
Triple gasp! Who do we think we are, a store telling you to buy nothing for people this holiday season? Is your mind blown at this option? Does it make more sense now that you realize we’re founded on zero waste, and nothing is more zero waste than giving literally nothing?
This is our mic drop moment; You don’t have to buy everyone, or anyone, something this holiday season.
Spend some quality time with your loved ones. Write them a nice card (on seed paper, of course). Don’t buy them things they won’t like or won’t need. Don’t feed the corporate monster. Make our 2021 holiday less material, more experiential, and more sustainable.
Shopping Zero Waste During the 2021 Holiday Season
There are so many options to shop sustainably, ethically, zero waste and vegan during the holidays, and always. With this gift guide, we’ve scratched the surface of what's out there that will protect the planet and leave mega-corporations high and dry during the 2021 holidays, and holidays to come.
Our final note: If you are getting a material item, be sure to wrap it mindfully with Furoshiki reusable gift wrap, newspaper, kraft paper, or nothing at all (maybe a behind the back move)! Stay away from that glittery and shiny sh*t. Nobody has time for that single use pollution. Also, check out our brand new seed paper cards! They’re great as a card and/or a gift for friends and family.
Thanks for shopping sustainably, ethically, or not buying a single thing this holiday season. If you have another zero waste gift that you love, share it with us in the comments. Or, if you have any questions, we're here to help you ensure you get the best sustainable and ethical gifts possible this holiday season.