Best gifts with a small carbon footprint

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Christmas background with hand crafted gifts, presents on rustic wooden table. Christmas or New year DIY packing. Holiday decor concept. Overhead, flat lay, top view

Image: Shutterstockphoto3/Shutterstock

If you’re an eco-conscious person, the holiday season is pretty stressful. From the mass production of gifts and toys to obscene plastic packaging, to wrapping the presents themselves, there’s plenty of wasteful behavior going on. Luckily, there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint to miniscule levels, while also checking each of your loved ones off your gift list. Read on to discover some of the best gifts with a small carbon footprint!


Plants make a wonderful gift for anyone on your list. Buy indoor varieties for anyone who needs a bit of greenery around the house. Considering that indoor plants help reduce carbon dioxide levels and produce oxygen, anyone would enjoy such a healthful gift! An alternative to an indoor plant could be to give someone special their own tree to plant outdoors. Trees are a symbol of life itself, which means their beauty never goes to waste. And with so many varieties to choose from, it’s easy to find a plant that meets the personality of everyone you know!


While donations aren’t tangible gifts, giving back in the name of someone you love is incredibly special. If your friend is especially involved with animals, consider donating to the World Wildlife Fund. Have a doctor in the house? A donation to the Red Cross is incredibly important. And anyone with children would appreciate a donation to UNICEF in their name! Donating money in the name of someone you love not only redefines the consumerism of the modern holiday season, it actively helps better society. And who wouldn’t want to do that?

Something Handmade

Handmade items range from DIY to hardcore craftsman, and anyone on your gift list would appreciate one. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, cut up old fabric (like sheets, T-shirts, or pillowcases) to create a personalized quilt or scarf. Bring out the power tools and spare wood to build a blanket ladder, coffee table, picture frame, or anything else you can think of. If you’re an artist, don’t hesitate to create a beautiful work inspired by your gift recipient. From paintings, to sculptures, to earthenware, the options are seriously endless. And the best part is, the thoughtfulness of a handmade gift won’t be wasted on them!

Something Cooked/Baked

Everyone loves a delectable handmade treat! Use common ingredients already in your fridge to bake up special desserts for the people on your list. Ideas include cookies, banana bread, artisanal bread, cakes, or fruit pies. Be sure to find out if your recipient has any food allergies before making them a baked good. Also, if you’re not sure of their flavor preferences, stick to classics such as chocolate chip cookies, that most people enjoy.

Reusable Water Bottle

Give the gift of everyday sustainability by purchasing reusable water bottles for your friends and family. Be sure to find brands that commit to eco-friendly practices and reduce wasteful packaging, like Kleen Kanteen.

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r

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