Stuff, stuff, stuff.
If you’re like me, holidays and birthdays can me an influx of STUFF that you now have to find a place for. Pre-kids, I liked to live lightly. And while I’ve given up on the idea of being a minimalist with three kids, the absolute last thing we need is more stuff in our house. But sustainable gifts – THAT I can get behind!
So when searching for perfect sustainable gifts, there’s a few questions I like to ask:
- Will this gift last?
- How much use will this get?
- How much space will this take up?
- What is the environmental impact of this gift?
To me, the ideal gift leads to having less stuff – maybe it replaces disposable objects, maybe it is loved and consumed and doesn’t need to find a permanent place on a shelf. Or maybe it is an experience whose memories last longer than a gift would.
If you’re looking to lighten the environmental load of your gift giving (or if you just want to give me a gift, hint hint), we’ve got the best sustainable gifts for outdoor families.
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Sustainable gifts for outdoor parents
I have spent YEARS trying to find the perfect reusable Ziploc-replacement bags, and Stasher has done it. They are super easy to wash, the closure doesn’t get wonky after a few trips through the dishwasher. They are nice and sturdy, and perfect for throwing some hiking snacks in. As far as usability on the trail, these are my favorite sustainable gifts.
Bumkins bags are another favorite of mine. They are thinner and lighter than Stasher (but still plenty durable). I put trailmix and sandwhiches in these when we go hiking to help reduce the amount of trash we produce.
Pack lunches in bento boxes to help reduce disposable packing material. We’ve been using this one to pack things that get smushed in bags – cherry tomatoes, berries, hummus, pretzels.
Think a sponge meets a washcloth. Swedish dish cloths dry quicker than wash cloths, and unlike paper towels, can be used again and again. They’re great for when you’re camping.
Compostable pouches and good coffee make this brand perfect for backpackers. Check out our full review here!
Darn Tough socks are super durable – no annoying holes after a year or two of wear. Plus, they have a lifetime guarantee, so you know you won’t be filling up the landfill with old pairs. And everyone needs socks (which makes them perfect sustainable gifts).
Made with recycled plastic, this hat is a perfect gift for any parent who is trying to be more conscious about sun exposure. The ventilation at the top keeps heads nice and cool and the wide brim offers plenty of sun protection.
We use stainless steel growlerl all the time – they are perfect for throwing in the car to have nice cold water after a long hike (or water that isn’t frozen after a long ski). I put one in my bike trailer so I can always re-fill water bottles no matter where we are.
And of course, we will often stop by a local brewery on our way home to fill it up there (gotta do our part to end the aluminum shortage!)
OK, hear me out. Have you ever been stuck on a hike that went longer than you thought with no extra toilet paper in your pack? Or have you had the “bury the paper and hope it decomposes, or pack it out” debate?
The kula cloth (yes, it is a reusable pee cloth) might take a minute to get used to, but its still far better than packing out soggy toilet paper. Check out how we use it for dispersed camping here and backpacking here.
It’s the Better Sweater, but it’s really the best gift. I wear mine inside as much as I do outside (helps me stay warm in the winter while we strive to not overheat our house). It’s perfect for fall, for spring, for layering under a winter coat. And it’s made with 100% recycled polyester fleece.
After a long day outside, it’s time for all the the sunscreen, bug spray, sweat, and baby spit up to come off. I am a big believer in splurging in the little things that help moms feel human. This powder face cleanser will last forever because you add the water yourself. It’s paraben, SLS, dye and cruelty free too!
Sustainable gifts for kids
There’s nothing funnier than poop for kids. This journal is actually made out of elephant poop (which is basically just dried grass). If you’re homeschooling, nature journaling, or just have a kid who thinks poop is funny, they’ll love this journal.
Every preschooler loves a dump truck. Green toys are made out of 100% recycled plastic, and are incredibly durable. So you don’t need to feel guilty about adding yet another plastic toy to the world.
Is there such thing as a sustainable gift guide that doesn’t suggest a reusable straw? We like this one for little kids who might forget not to bite down on a metal one.
Plastic free AND guaranteed to keep them busy for a while? Plus it won’t result in more toy-room clutter? Yes, please! My kids will spend an afternoon on these (the bigger ones are definitely worth it). Set your kids up with some of our favorite podcasts to keep them focused longer.
This toy. This toy gets more play than almost anything in our house. It’s wooden, simple and cheap, but is a lifesaver on long car drives or camping trips.
Nothing is a better gift for children than the gift of play, and unforunately, toys only go so far in facilitating that. Growing up, I had this same book of ideas we would flip through when the boredom set in. With a few ideas, your kids can play outside for hours – no fancy toys needed.
Sustainable experience gifts
Not all gifts have to be wrapped up in a bow. An experience can create memories that last a lifetime. And for stressed parents who don’t often grant themselves the luxury of time, they can be a real blessing. Here are a few more ideas:
- Gift card to Air BnB
- Photo session with a local photographer (especially for the mom who never gets in the picture. Look for a photographer willing to travel to your favorite nature spot!)
- Membership to local gardens, zoos, or museums
- Gift card to Audible (we go through audio books like candy driving back and forth from hikes!)
- A picnic with fancy pastries, or a good loaf of bread and nice cheese, makes for a memorable gift.
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