The first thing I want to note with this years guide, is that we should be ASKING. It feels good when we nail a gift to someone we love, we pick the perfect item and their beaming face says it all, but there are also a lot of occasions, if we are honest with ourselves, where we don’t get it quite right, and it ends up being an unwanted gift. Annually $15.2 Billion is spent on unwanted gifts, which is crazy, and of that $15.2 Billion, 4% go directly into the landfill. Never getting any use, but sitting there for hundreds of years.
Especially with the financial situation right now, it really is best to ask. Your loved one may give you lots of ideas to select from to keep an element of surprise, but also may simply ask for something that they need. Something that isn’t glamorous or fun to purchase, but they need. In those moments we need to take our ego, our worth out of the picture and remember that gift giving is about them, not about us. We want them to feel love and appreciation, maybe right now, that is about money, a gift card, or paying for something they just can’t otherwise do, so ask.
That said, we still may get suggestions or need ideas that are kind to the planet and also thoughtful to the person. This year, I want to flip it, and begin with the memories. Because really, most of us have too much stuff, but what really makes life meaningful is memories and time spent with those we care about.
So let’s begin there, here are some ideas for giving a loved one a memory with or without you they will cherish:
Here are some ideas we came up with to create memories:
- Voucher for a massage
- An afternoon tea (if that is available to you)
- Virtual or in-person skydiving
- Virtual or in-person cooking class
- Virtual or in-person wine tasting
- Tickets to a concert
- Canyoning/sailing/scuba diving/snorkeling experience
- Hotel/B & B/Air BnB stay voucher for somewhere nice
- Gift card to a restaurant (even if it’s takeout)
- Tickets to a theme park
- A manicure or pedicure
Donating to an organization the loved one cares about can be a way to give to someone who says they don’t need anything (take them at their word!).
Here are some of our favorite places to donate, but you may need to ask for what matters to the person you care about:
Amazon Watch (no, nothing to do with THAT amazon, the real amazon!)
As with last year, our team added some suggestions of their own, and we intend on adding more this week, so check back again.
I journal in these every morning. The paper is of a nice quality and thickness, and it comes in all kinds of different colors and different educational information about something related to the book chosen. They also don’t use animal-based adhesives, are 100% vegan, and use a material that consists of more than 40% sugarcane and is 100% recyclable in most countries.
Our girls love these plant based kids dining, especially the cups. Their products are just the right size, can be easily cleaned and are sturdy.
*One thing I do want to note here as it took me by surprise and I initially felt frustrated. Ordering through their website will still mean delivery via amazon, they cannot afford to be in the US (they are australian) without amazon. That extra money you pay goes directly to them, so that is why I am still recommending.
These are my families water bottle of choice, and as a company, Hydro Flask is really thoughtful and intention. They are powerful activists (can a company be an activist?…whatever the company equalaievnt is 😉 ) through their Refil For Good Campaign, where they set out to eliminate 2 million plastic water bottles.
We have had their adult and kids bottles for years and they wash up really well.
I really feel like I don’t need to say any more on this. I talk about it all the time and yes, it is my favorite tracksmith item ever, and a lot of people agree with me. It really is the most comfortable long sleeve that can handle so many temperatures. As with everything Tracksmith, it is durable and of high quality. My brighton base from 2018 works just as well now as it did back then.
I will be honest, I have not tried these yet, but I know Tracksmith, and I know they will be a solid training shoe that can handle many training miles and be long lasting. Tracksmith is obsessive about getting it to the best quality they can, these will be no exception.
Here is a little more, as I can’t speak to it more. The inspiration for the Eliot Runner started with a feeling many runners experience – the delight in finding a natural surface while out for a run. Logging thousands of miles across New England, the Tracksmith team found those moments on pine needle trails, wood chip paths, and old indoor tracks. That’s the sensation they wanted to bring to the roads – soft, resilient, responsive and ready for anything.
I wore this sports bra for the first time a few months ago, and I will be honest, when I picked it up, I thought to myself, “oh no, look at that band at the back, this is not gonna be supportive at all”. Oh I was so wrong, it has become one of my favorite sports bras and it is very supportive. I wore it for a run at 9am in 70 degree weather and proceeded to wear it until 9pm that night. It didn’t smell or stretch and it was wonderful.
I have run three marathons in these shoes and logged countless miles. These are my go to shoe and feel fast in them. My favorite feature is that I can slip them on and off without untying my shoelaces, but there is a lot else to love about them. For a brands first attempt at a performance shoe, Allbirds nailed it.
You will be hard pressed to find me in a shoe other than Allbirds, I could list so many of their shoes on here, but I ahd to mention these wool loungers. They are my go to shoes that can go from walking around daytime to nighttime easily. I have worn them to the fanciest dinner I have ever had and have worn them to every kind of occasion in the day.
Plant a tree
Is there a local nursery or plant shop that sells native trees that you could have as a gift for yourself or someone you love? It can be a fruit tree or a tree or plant you just really enjoy looking at. Make sure it is a native plant (ask them in the store for that information). Even if you do not have a yard to plant a tree, you could have a small pollinator garden with pots or window boxes. The National Wildlife Federation has a good site for finding what’s native to your area.This is one way a friendship or relationship can be reflected upon day after day year after year…and it takes carbon out of the atmosphere. Win win.
Gift card to a plant store
All I ask for nowadays is to have gift cards to plant stores to allow me to geek out and pick a new house plant. Once someone enjoys their first houseplant, they will be hooked! Often these plant stores have a local coffee shop or restaurant attached to them, so look for one of those if you have onne in your area, then they can always use it to have a handmade or locally made treat!
Glass tupperware/mason jars
I have eben trying to avoid storing food in plastic tubs as much as I can, so have been building up our collection of glass tupperware and mason jars. Not only are these more environmentally friendly through reducing the use of plastic bags and containers, but they are also durable that can last for amny years. Often something we don’t want to purchase for oureslves either, so its a helpful gift that your loved one will get to use (adn think of you) over and over.
Once you notice them, reusable cloths will be everywhere, but my favotie company for reusable kitchen materials is by far and away Marleys monsters. They now make all kinds of other cool items like bowl covers, snack bags, and bento bags, but my favorite item from them are their unpaper towels. So many fun designs and they last really well.
A few days before I left for New York this year to run the marathon, I received a package from a friend who had sent me some of the socks he made, Near Earth. I asked him if he was confident enough in his socks for me to wear them without a wash and without a wear in a marathon on a humid morning. He was and I did, and they were great! The best way to know you have a good pair of socks is to not notice they are there, and thats what these were!
Using code TINA will get you free shipping worldwide!
Reusable utensils/chopsticks plus pouch
These remind me, have you checked out our sustainable packing guide for trips? These are, of course, a must. While I do not have a specific set for traveling, as I just use our regular silverware to travel with, these To-Go Ware Bamboo utensils are what I would get (or maybe will be asking for myself!)
I am going to suggest either plant based books or books that have a lot of vegetarian options in them. Here is what i recommend:
Oh She Glows for dinner . I have her cookbook and use it often. I also like Julia Turshens’s vegetarian recipes in Simply Julia (l isten to her on the podcast here ) and we love Little Green Kitchen for cooking with our kids.
I know, not exactly a typical gift idea, but actually, it is a brilliant one, because what could be better than giving a loved one their best shot at health? 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole food sourced ingredients, I take it every single morning as my insurance policy, so no matter what the day brings, I know I have taken care of my body.
You can get a 1 year free supply of vitamin D3+K2 (crucial for these winter months ahead), plus five free travel packs, here.
I met Brian at a conference last month, and his dream is to be a National Geographic photographer. After we met, I looked up his work, and it took my breath away, I absolutely love his work (and the fact he is passionate about sustainability and eco tourism), and these would make an amazing gift for someone who loves nature and animals.
In a $36.8 Billion dollar running industry, PYNRS is the first and only Black owned performance apparel running company that exists. Sid is doing something special here (listen to him on the podcast here), and his clothes are not only thoughtfully made in terms of durability and fit for all bodies, but PYNRS also is conscious in terms of climate too.
The running industry has typically left out a lot of body shapes, PYNRS is changing that.
Gift card to a local bookstore
Another one of my favorite gifts to receive. A gift card to a local bookstore is one way to give a loved one the choice to pick something that speaks to them and give them a chance to do something for themselves when they are someone who gives so much to others. It also means you are supporting a local business that is surviving through our Amazon world and made it through Covid too. Think locally, act globally.
Sarah has been putting on these retreats for many years now, I attended the inaugural Rise Run Retreat in 2015 and it was wonderful. Sarah really pours her heart into making these the best they can be, and whether it is a virtual or in person retreat, the attendee will be left feeling inspired and grateful for the opportunity.
This company continues to amaze me with their environmental practices, and regardless of where you or your loved ones are on their sustainability journey, this will give a way of taking another step. Ethique offers everything from shampoo to deodorant to moisturizer (my personal favorite item they do).
From Kat: There are few things I love more than walking into LUSH and picking out some new scents for my shampoo and conditioner bars (oh, and not having to purchase a bottle of plastic!). It’s a little gift to myself every time I hop in the shower to know that my hair is being cared for with ethically sourced ingredients and handmade by a real-life person (and if you order online, the name of the person who put together your products will be included!). My favorite are the “Honey I Washed My Hair” shampoo bar and “Big” pressed conditioner bar. If you don’t have a LUSH near you, many companies are switching over to shampoo and conditioner bars! Ask for options available to you at your favorite shopping center!
Whether you love fun, fruity flavours or prefer more traditional, minty freshness, LUSH has created both toothpaste and mouthwash tabs that taste great and provide good oral hygiene! Right now, the tabs are distributed in clear pots that are made from recycled and recyclable materials, which you can keep and reuse how you’d like or return them to the store where they will be recycled back to the factory. Win-win all around!
Plant a tree
There are so many ways to do this, my favorite is Arbor Day Founration (although I will warn you, they send a LOT of communication after you do, so maybe there is a better option if you already feel inundated with communications. But planting a tree on someones behalf where they are reforstesting an area is a way to show your passion (or theirs) for the environment, and also help them feel good in money being spent on something meaningful. I love it when people (or companies) plant trees for orders, like Ethique for example!
These are my favorite books from this year:
The Light we Give by Simran Jeet Singh
Plant Coach by Nick Cutsumpas
Born to Run 2: The Training Guide by Chris McDougall and Eric Orton
Do Hard Things by Steve Magness
Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Bittersweet by Susan Cain
Good Inside by Dr Becky Kennedy
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
I know I know, who gives toilet paper as a gift. But again, this goes back to what I said about what do people NEED, and maybe right now this would really help them out, esepcialyl as this company is doing really good work to make the world a better place. Not glamorous, as far from it as we could be, but still meaningful.
Ethique does make deodorant, but I have not yet tried it. I have however, tried Native and really enjoyed using it, while also feeling they work very well, even for a busy day and only one application. Deodorant is a much needed part of life in our society today, and having a natural, plastic free version is a big way to cut down on what is going into the landfill. They also have lots of fun flavors, including some holiday ones if you want to have fun with it.
Sustainable and ethical coffee and tea
This will depend on your location, but is an easy way to support small businesses and get your caffeine fix. If you can find locally made coffee, that is great, but there are also a lot of fair trade coffees internationally where you are helping to support and uplift communities that are working hard to make positive change.
We are huge fans of these dinnerware sets. They are made from plants, not plastic. They also have disposable items, so stock up for any parties or events you have.
I won’t stop recommending these as they work so well, and can be composted once they are done. There are a lot of options out there now as many more brands make them, so give them a
From Kat: They strive to make their apparel with the smallest possible ecological footprint by using eco-friendly materials like TENCEL, recycled polyester, organic cotton, and hemp, and reducing wastewater and carbon emissions; they also put peoples’ needs ahead of lower production costs through ethical manufacturing. And, as a happy bonus, Tentree plants 10 trees (hence the name!) for every item you purchase (which you can register and track)! They have several different collections, but the Lorax collection is my favorite.
Pela makes compostable phone cases that are also sustainably made. Even for those of us who drop their phones often, this will protect it well. There are lots of designs and styles as well as iPad cases, and smart watch bands.
These sandwich bags from Stasher are a fantastic way to switch out ziplock bags for resusable ones. They last well, wash up well, and of course, prevent endless amounts of single use plastic ending up in the ocean. Win win. You can find these in a lot of stores, and also on their website.
We pulled this together last minute, so check back as we will be adding more. Until then, happy asking….cause remember, we are gonna ask what our loved ones need this year, right? 😉