Eco-Friendly Gift Guide

Tara Dickinson
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Unique ‘Green’ Gift Ideas & Why Preloved Shopping Is The Future Of Gift Giving


Everyone is stepping it up and becoming more ‘green’ and eco-conscious in their daily lives and practices. To take these sustainable actions with you into the holiday season, one of the biggest steps you can initiate is to turn your holiday shopping list into an eco-friendly one. Why?

  • Small adjustments like this can reduce your carbon footprint.
  • According to the Stanford University Recycling Center, Americans create 25 percent more waste in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas than any other time of year, totaling 25 million tons of additional garbage.
  • Support your loved ones and friends who are living a more green lifestyle.
  • Or introduce them to ways they can be more earth-conscious themselves.

The stigma around giving secondhand gifts has melted as people value nostalgia, antiques, and choosing to respect the finite resources of the environment.



  1. Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Gently Used Products
  2. Sustainable & Eco-Friendly New Products
  3. DIY Homemade Gifts
  4. Gifts of Adventure, Making Memories, & Service

Eco-friendlySUSTAINABLE GIFT GUIDE- Gently Used, Preloved & Second Hand Gifts

Right off the bat, if you are choosing to give gifts that fit in this category you’ve chosen an eco-friendly option. This sustainable gift guide will outline many ideas for second-hand gifts that will thrill every single member on your wish list as well as the myriad of other reasons for choosing to go preloved with your gifting. GUIDE.


Just look at these eco-friendly, sustainable gifts offered in all these categories right here in the Bay Area.


Decor & Art

 ​Appliances ​​Electronics


Sports & Outdoors

Music, Memorabilia, Toys

 The preloved market is better than ever!

  1. Not only is buying secondhand pragmatic, but it is also a constructive way to share your values with your loved ones, making gift-giving that much more meaningful.
  2. The world of secondhand shopping is filled with high-quality, like-new items that cover all categories.
  3. Shopping secondhand is convenient, easy-to-use, and location specific.
  4. Online secondhand platforms:
    1. The Local Flea- brick and mortar warehouse in the Bay Area; shipping available nationwide.
    2. Bunz Trading Zone
    3. Freecycle Network.
    4. Buy Nothing Groups on Facebook.
    5. Online marketplaces like Let Go, and Offer Up where you can find items others have listed near you. 


It basically comes down to a new way of thinking about how you consume.

Our goal as a society is to move from a “linear economy” to more of a “circular” one. What does this mean?

Circular Economy moves away from the practice of making, buying, using, and then throwing things away (that’s the Linear Economy).

  1. A circular economy looks for innovative ways of keeping materials and products in-use, for longer, and using materials that are regenerative.
  2. Reuse- something as simple as hand-me-downs is an example of the circular model. When we reuse something, we give it a second (or third) service life with a new user. Reuse can happen through donation, gifting, or selling second-hand.
  3. Repair- we can give an item new life by repairing, refurbishing, or rebuilding it. The idea is to invest effort to maintain something, or to keep it working for longer.
  4. Benefits- the item doesn’t go to the landfill; you’re offsetting a lot of environmental impacts that would occur if you had to manufacture another brand-new item to fulfill that consumer need.


Now, sustainable gifts can also be eco-friendly gifts of course. In this section we’re looking at eco-friendly gifts that come under the ‘new category’, rather than gently-used.

  • ‘Green’ new gifts mean they are products that have been made from recycled material, or that use methods that don’t harm the environment during production.
  • Whether it has biodegradable packaging or is made out of upcycled material, these gifts have some sort of sustainable element.
  • There are literally tens of dozens of resource sites on the Internet for you to choose eco-friendly gift sources, which is such a wonderful trend to see!

Here are just a few that can satisfy a wide range of people on your holiday list.

Yoga Mat- made from antimicrobial cork and sustainably sourced natural rubber. The brand says that proceeds of each purpose go to educating indigenous youth.

Organic Baby Gift Set- recycled cardboard package includes baby essentials like diaper balm, baby wash, and nose and cheek balm.

Hemp Socks- Rolling Stone magazine recommended this one in their eco-holiday guide, a hemp based gift from a reliable and sustainable material for everything from t-shirts to furniture. The company says it removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product sold.

Living Composter- a minimalist, stylish-looking biomorphic composter design fits in with kitchen decor and also processes a whopping two pounds of food scraps per week, enough to keep up with any large household.


Do-It-Yourself homemade gifts are meaningful, great for your wallet, and usually have a deeper sentimental value than anything you can purchase. The biggest bonus: they can be custom made from home and have little to no impact on the environment. Ask yourself: what is it that you really want to come from your do-it-yourself gifts?

  • Find some purpose versus just a product.
  • Wanting to create deeper connections- something like a heartfelt letter about memories, encouragement of some aspect of their life, or even a love letter will do.
  • Looking to help the environment, introduce a friend to cooking vegetarian meals once a week.

Here are some ideas for all different types of people on your gift list.

1. Transfer Image to Wood- can be on a cutting board or a decorative hanging. Use your imagination. Famous art images, antique vignettes, sports teams- the options are limitless!

2. Ways I Love You Cards- this is a really thoughtful and ​​personal gift you can give to anyone. With a little time and your best handwriting, you can deliver a gift that a loved one or dear friend can enjoy forever.

3. Mini Journals- made out of cereal boxes! Great to make for teenagers, grandmas, or a coworker who always has tons of To-Do lists going.


This last eco-friendly gift category is about gifts you can give that are of service to your intended receiver; gifts of adventure, or other actionable items that are not necessarily ‘things’. Let’s look at some ideas.

Service- what are gifts of service you can do for others? Some people might call these random acts of kindness gifts.

  1. Invite someone over for dinner and provide a wonderful meal.
  2. Bring some holiday cookies to your neighbors, and spend a few minutes talking to them and getting to know them.
  3. Offer to rake leaves and mow someone’s lawn.
  4. Give the gift of shovel snow service for a week, or a month!
  5. Be a babysitter so parents can have a date night.
  6. Offer a free class to kids (or beginner-level adults) on a topic in which you are skilled or knowledgeable: crochet, history, meal planning, budgeting, soccer, art, photography, woodworking, car maintenance, etc
  7. Help someone move (now that’s a real gift!).

Making Memories, Learning New Things, Adventure

To stop the clutter and give eco-friendly gifts that are not  more things, you can give so many other activities that will make your giftee happy beyond words. Some ideas to consider:

  1. Monthly local produce delivery box.
  2. Seed club subscriptions for the growers and farmers in your midst.
  3. Local live theater tickets.
  4. Annual park passes- museum, gym, or other outdoor activity events.
  5. Memberships to clubs- writers club, book club, food club...
  6. Classes-cooking, crafting, sustainable gardening, music, surfing- you name it!
  7. Experiences- train rides, sunset sails, wine tasting, ghost tours, local tourist sightseeing.
  8. Adventures- visit a farm, take them apple picking, roller skating, horse riding... 


As you can see, there are an abundance of ways to give gifts to everyone on your list this year in an eco-friendly, eco-conscious, meaningful, and sustainable manner. Please consider your local artists, vendors, crafters, and businesses as you shop or create your gifts this holiday season. Merry Merry!


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