indulging · lifestyle

10 Sustainable Gift Ideas

Pine Cones Go Gingham

My holiday shopping was done before Thanksgiving. What’s the secret to being done so early? Not buying stuff. Give sustainable gifts to the people on your holiday shopping list and you’ll find yourself done with your shopping, too.

What are sustainable gifts? Items that have a purpose. They are gifts that encourage growth, inspire, and result in less waste. You can still wrap up sustainable gifts in pretty paper with ribbons. Just be sure and use items have already served a purpose – maps, newspaper, fabric scraps.

Gift and Reused Tag Go Gingham

10 Sustainable Gift Ideas

These won’t break the holiday budget and they’ll get used all through the year.

How to eliminate paper towels from Go Gingham

1. Washcloths to eliminate paper towels :: Your recipient will never have to buy paper towels again when they get the gift of washcloths. Include a basket to hang on the wall instead of the paper towel holder. {Here’s how to eliminate paper towels.}

Kitchen with compaost pail Go Gingham

2. Compost pail :: A compost pail that looks good sitting out on the kitchen counter will get used. Don’t get the ones with charcoal inserts – what’s the point? Empty the compost pail and rinse it out. It won’t smell. {Here’s how to start composting.}

Go Gingham: food gift ideas

3. Anything edible :: There’s nothing to toss out when you give the gift of food – it gets eaten! Homemade granola, a batch of pasta sauce or pesto are all tasty and wonderful gifts. Dried herbs in reused glass jars are another smart gift idea! {Here’s my go-to gluten-free granola recipe for gifts.}

Grow vegetables from saved seeds

4. Seeds :: Whether you saved them from your garden or you give a packet you’ve bought, seeds are a gift that keeps on giving – all through the harvest season. Get non-gardeners arugula seeds and they’ll have a green thumb victory in no time. Arugula grows so easily and is tasty in a green salad or on a pizza. {Here’s how to save seeds from the garden.}

Camping in Oregon with Go Gingham

5. Annual pass :: Encourage gift recipients to get outside with annual pass to your state parks or national forests. Whether they’re campers or not, even a day hike or bike ride is a great way to get out into nature and enjoy. {Here’s my camp cooking supplies list.}

Workout with walking sticks

6. Make hiking/trekking poles :: Yes, that’s me with my ski poles walking poles! Re-purposed ski poles make the best hiking/trekking poles and you’ve probably got all the materials needed to make this gift in the garage. Upper body workouts can happen while walking with these – just ask my walking gang “chicks with sticks!” {Here’s how to make walking sticks.}

Go Gingham How to Make Cloth Napkins

7. Cloth napkins :: Cloth napkins are super easy to make and these can be used over and over again. Get several for each family member so there’s plenty when the napkins get dirty. {Here’s how to make cloth napkins.}

Used clothing for the holidays

8. Buy vintage :: Vintage is a fancy term for second-hand. If your recipient might turn their nose up at a gift that’s been used, tell them it’s vintage instead. Look for cashmere or wool scarves, hats, and gloves. Wash in cool water and hang dry, first. My kids and I had fancy outfits for a Christmas party and every item was second hand. Love it! {Here’s how to shop second-hand.}


9. Reusable grocery bags :: Everyone has cloth bags around but my favorite are string bags that can get tucked into a pocket or purse so they’re always handy. Dear friends gave us these string bags for a wedding gift ages ago and we still use them. {Here’s how to add a pocket to a plain bag.}

Home swap to Spain

10. Car share or home swapping membership :: Ownership is overrated and sharing is caring. Use the resources you already own and trade or skip buying and share. Give a gift that’s a membership and your recipient can use it all year long. {Here are 6 ways home swapping is sustainable.}

Give gifts of experience that inspire or that will be remembered. Sustainable gifts keep giving throughout the year. Go ahead and wrap up sustainable gifts. Opening a pretty present is sometimes the best part!

What would you add to this list? Do you still have shopping to do?

Go Gingham related links:

Displaying holiday cards – don’t put them away, just leave them out to enjoy
Homemade Christmas gift tradition: family calendar
Tree topper tale: a Christmas tree topper that’s so easy to make

8 thoughts on “10 Sustainable Gift Ideas

  1. I love these ideas BUT do you really not buy anything? I could go in for most of them but I always do see something that is just right for someone that I do buy. Happy holidays.


    1. Hi Garden Girl ~
      Well, I should say that the shopping I am going to do gets done long before the official shopping season starts. Plus, now that my kids are older teens (1 in college + 1 in high school), they don’t get as much ‘stuff’ but more experiences.
      Thanks so much for writing in! 🙂


  2. Lots of great ideas here, Sara – was just thinking we could use some new cloth napkins. Since we use them all the time, they do need replacing every so often. Perhaps I’ll have to drop a hint to the Mr., although I’m pretty sure he’s not going to be making them for us!


    1. OK, he has permission to buy the cloth napkins! 🙂
      I know you guys are really good about giving experience/travel gifts to your family members. I love that you do that!
      Thanks for writing in, Erin!!


  3. Love giving food as gifts, and I’ve made your granola recipe, Sara. It was so good I kept it all for myself!


    1. Oh, Vanessa, you crack me up!
      You are allowed to make gifts and keep. I made a baby quilt once for a friend and then couldn’t give it away. I kept it and used it our son when he was born. 🙂
      Thanks so much for writing in, Vanessa!


    1. Awwwww….thanks, Amelia! Coming from you that means a lot because you are so good already. I truly believe that we all have to do our part because every little bit and every person really does make a difference.
      Happy holidays and New Year to you!! Thanks for writing in 🙂


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