6 Sustainable Gifts and Ideas for Friends

6 Sustainable Gifts and Ideas for Friends

Choosing the perfect gift for your loved ones can be quite a challenge. You want to be thoughtful and find a present that you know your person will cherish, but you also don’t want to break the bank. 

It can also be tricky navigating gift-buying while also being a mindful, ethical consumer. 

When you can, it makes a huge impact on the planet to purchase items and clothes from sustainable brands, or from secondhand sources. Though fast fashion and other lesser eco-friendly gifts are mostly unavoidable, you can show your friend and the planet some love by finding a sustainable gift. 

There are many ways to give gifts sustainably, no matter the occasion. Whether you’re looking for a birthday present, a holiday gift, or just a thoughtful treat for someone you love, you can make a meaningful statement while making eco-conscious purchases. 

Keep reading to learn all about the best eco-friendly gift ideas! 

1. Reusable Water Bottles 

A great way to encourage plastic reduction all while gifting your loved one with a thoughtful, useful present is to give them a reusable water bottle. 

First and foremost, what is more thoughtful than caring about your friends’ overall health and well-being? Drinking water is a key part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and you can encourage that habit with a cute, reusable water bottle. 

Besides, many of us end up wasting excessive amounts of plastic just by drinking from single-use water bottles. When you switch to a reusable water bottle, you can save an average of 156 plastic water bottles from reaching a landfill each year! Fewer water bottles in landfills equal a lower carbon footprint, promoting sustainable living for your friends and the planet.

Aside from being sustainable, water bottles are also a convenient accessory that we often take for granted. It will save your friend money in the long run, since they won’t have to pay for a new water bottle each time they get thirsty. Plus, they will be able to refill it at any time, meaning that they can have a fresh sip of high-quality H2O (or any other beverage for that matter) whenever they crave it. 

You can make the gift extra thoughtful and extra sustainable by adding eco-friendly stickers to the gift bag so that they can decorate their new bottle with some cute, sustainable designs. 

All in all, you can’t go wrong with a reusable water bottle, regardless of who the gift is for. Everyone can appreciate the gift of never-ending hydration! 

2. Eco-friendly Clothes

You know your loved one well, which means you probably know their sense of style just as well. Why not elevate their wardrobe with some sustainable garments?

There are numerous ways to acquire eco-friendly clothes to wow your friend, so keep the following tips in mind when you go on the hunt for cute styles to gift your loved one. 

Firstly, pay attention to the materials used to make clothes. If you are purchasing clothes or shoes directly from a retailer, keep an eye out for the sources used to make those garments. If you’re shopping on sites like Amazon, make sure the product is made with sustainable dyes and from a fair trade supplier.

Some key sustainable resources include organic cotton, organic bamboo, organic linen, and organic hemp. As a general rule, if the brand utilizes organic materials for its products, they are likely a more sustainable source to shop from. 

We also suggest looking out for brands that use recycled materials, much like KOKOLU, which heavily utilized recycled plastics to create sneakers that are to die for. You should also look out for recycled cotton and recycled polyester. It is much more environmentally friendly to make use of recycled fabrics, instead of manufacturing all new ones. 

You can also find fashionable clothing for your stylish pal at any of your local thrift stores. Secondhand shopping is a great way to expand a garment’s lifespan and is a sustainable way to spruce up the wardrobe of your loved one. 

Whether you want to gift them stylish tops, cute pants, or eco-friendly sneakers, there are countless ways for you to gift clothes while keeping it sustainable. 

3. Tote Bags

Tote bags are tote-ally in, so why not keep your friend on trend all while being sustainable with this thoughtful gift? 

Totes have completely blown up over the past few years, especially thanks to the influence of TikTok influencers creating “what’s in my bag?” content with their unique totes. You can keep your loved ones up to date on the latest fad by gifting them a tote for the upcoming occasion. 

Since sustainability is a priority for you, tote bags are a great way to spread the eco-friendly word, since they are so multi-purpose and encourage less plastic use. 

Totes are excellent for virtually any occasion but especially come in handy for shopping trips. Your loved one will appreciate having a bag that can not only carry their wallet and other personal belongings, but also double as a reusable produce bag when they go to the grocery store (though it works just as well at the bookstore, or really any retail excursion). 

The tote is convenient, and will heavily reduce plastic waste. We often end up wasting much more paper and plastic than necessary when we bag our fruits, veggies, and other groceries with single-use plastic bags and containers. A tote will make single-use bags unnecessary!

An added plus is that you can actually secure an eco-friendly tote bag as a gift for your friend. KOKOLU’s eco-friendly totes are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastics and come in a variety of colors to match your loved one’s style. The act of using a tote is more sustainable, and the gift will be even more environmentally friendly since the product is produced through sustainable methods. 

Your friend can carry your love with them when you gift them a tote today!

4. Cruelty-Free Fragrances

While protecting our physical environment is immensely important, so too is caring for the creatures that make up our planet. For years, innocent animals have been harmed in the making of beauty products, but you can encourage more ethically conscious brands by giving your loved one a cruelty-free fragrance! 

Perfumes and body sprays can be truly thoughtful gifts to receive. It is a gift that reflects effort and consideration. Typically, shopping for fragrances means you have had to test out and smell the right scent for your gift recipient, ultimately choosing the spray that you believe will suit them best. 

Choosing a scent shows thoughtfulness and care, so your friend is sure to appreciate such a gift!

The gift will double in meaning when you choose a cruelty-free fragrance. Thanks to the efforts of animal rights activists, there is less animal testing that goes on in the beauty industry, but it is not completely gone. You can help protect critters like mice, rats, and bunnies by supporting eco-friendly, cruelty free brands. 

The more mainstream cruelty-free brands become, the more mainstream cruelty-free practices will become across the industry. Besides, brands that utilize cruelty-free practices have excellent scents to explore, that will leave your friend wanting more. 

No fragrance is worth the torture of innocent animals, so practice sustainability and give your friend a thoughtful gift with a cruelty-free fragrance. 

5. Secondhand Books

Shopping for a bookworm? You can do so sustainably by shopping secondhand. 

All book lovers know that there is no gift more valuable than a new (or old) book. This is an area where you can really display your thoughtfulness and demonstrate how much you care. 

Pay close attention to the kind of books your friend reads. Are they obsessed with YA fantasy? Do they enjoy deep dives into true crime? Or are they crazy about the classics? Whatever their taste is, you can search through shelves of books at your local thrift store or secondhand bookstore to locate a book you think they’ll enjoy. 

Books are great gifts at any time of year, for birthdays or for Christmas gifts during the holiday season. Books are also unique gifts in that they double as DIY home decor. You could even get multiple books as a gift set for any avid readers in your life.

Knowing that you took the time to consider their interests and select a book based on that will mean the world to your friend. 

The best part? Buying a used book is completely carbon-neutral, emission-free, and zero waste. Of course, not all titles are able to be purchased secondhand. New books and certain special additions are very hard to come by at your local thrift. But, it gives you a great opportunity to think outside of the box to select a gift suitable for your loved one. 

More Book Ideas

You can do some investigating on BookTok (the community on the app TikTok dedicated to literature), and find all the best titles to thrift for your bookish loved one. Can’t find specific titles? Do not fret! Typically, employees at secondhand stores are bookworms themselves and will be more than happy to point you in the right direction to find a book that is perfect for your friend. 

You do not even need to leave your home to find books secondhand. If there is a very specific title that your friend is dying to get their hands on, you can utilize online resources like Thrift Books, and eBay, and even buy from groups on Facebook. With a little internet sleuthing, you are guaranteed to find the perfect secondhand book to give to your loved one. 

6. Sustainable Wrapping

Your gift can be sustainable even down to the wrapping paper!

Even if your physical gift isn’t necessarily eco-friendly, you can still practice sustainability when it comes to gift wrapping. There are countless ways to cut back on waste and repurpose household items to ensure more sustainable gift-giving practices. 

Repurposing is the best way to present your gift in an environmentally conscious way. When it comes to bags and boxes, you have many options. Do you have any old shopping bags lying around? Perhaps you have an old shoe box that you haven’t gotten around to recycling just yet. Or, you might have even held on to a gift bag that someone had given you at some point. 

Any one of those items is perfect for presenting your gift in a sustainable way. There is no shame in reusing old items, especially when it means there is less waste being left in a landfill somewhere. 

Hang on to Gift Bags

For that exact reason, we recommend hanging on to old gift bags. You are helping save the environment, and you are saving money since you won’t have to run out and buy a new bag. 

Wrapping paper is where you can really get creative. For instance, if you have old tissue paper lying around from previous gifts you’ve received, try and wrap your gift delicately in the tissue paper. The makeshift look will add an extra layer of charm to the present, and using compostable or sustainable materials is good for the environment.

If you still receive a physical copy of the newspaper, before you recycle it, save a few pages to use as wrapping paper for future presents. Newspapers make for a quirky, yet cute way to present your gift to someone. 

In a similar vein, you can use pages of physical magazines as wrapping paper as well. This can be an especially chic way to wrap a gift if you have any high-end fashion magazines. 

You do not need to have any of these items on hand in order to wrap things sustainably, however. There are a few brands that you can locate at any store that sells eco-friendly wrapping paper. This kind of paper is made from recycled print. 

Wrapping gifts may seem mundane but can be a clever, sustainable practice when you think outside of the box. 

Sustainable Gifts for All

Physical gifts are thoughtful and nice tokens from the ones we love. They become even more special when they are renewable and environmentally friendly!

It is so easy to find the best sustainable gifts for your loved ones. With this guide, you can learn about some of the best, and easiest eco-friendly presents, and learn how to wrap things in an environmentally sound way. 

Show your love to the planet and to your friends by shopping for sustainable gifts today. 



Fact Sheet: Single Use Plastics | Earth Day

Animal Rights Activists: Who They Are and What They Do | Sentient Media

How TikTok Became a Best-Seller Machine | The New York Times