Myth: Green Gifts Are So Last Year


No Time Like the Present to Go Green

It can be easy to assume eco-gifts are passé. How many reusable totes can one person have, after all? But unlike some passing trends, green gifts are only getting cooler. For proof, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite things, from decidedly non burlap-inspired eco-fashion to solar-powered tech gear to creative experience gifts—as well as some interesting items that our experts say they can’t live without.

Fine print: You can help us when you buy from the Amazon links below because we receive a portion of the purchase price for every item you buy. Pretty sweet, huh? And of course, this list is by no means exhaustive, so we hope you’ll consider this festive roundup inspiration for further green-gifting pursuits.


Now that that’s out of the way, behold: Green gift-giving inspiration for some usual suspects on your list.

For the Foodie

‘Tis the season to have cravings. Indulge ’em with one of these:

  • By the cookbook: Hot off the presses in 2013, The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook: Local, Sustainable, Delicious Recipes from America’s Best Chefs features 115 mouthwatering recipes by some of the nation’s best-known chefs, from Rick Bayless to Dan Barber, along with eye-catching pics and non-judge-y eco-factoids on topics like grass-fed beef and community supported agriculture.
  • Organic vino, anyone? From Montana’s sulfite-free Ten Spoon Syrah, to a biodynamic, organic cab from California’s Beaver Creek, there are plenty of earth-friendly options available for your fave wine-lovers. Tip: Just look for the USDA Certified Organic seal on the bottle.
  • One word – chocolate: Green & Black’s has some tantalizing organic, fair-trade options—this pack of five Maya Gold Organic Dark Chocolate bars spiked with orange and spices wins our vote for best stocking stuffers. Prefer sweets they can drink? Try Dagoba’s organic, Fair Trade hot chocolate.

For the Fashionista

Dazzle 'em with this eco-chic look by Amourt Vert.
Dazzle ’em with an eco-chic look by Amourt Vert.

Today’s eco-fashion options are most definitely not your grandma’s hippie-inspired leftovers. Consider: Upcycled holiday glam cocktail frocks from Amour Vert, this sassy trench from Elroy made with reclaimed material, and even some (actually) cool organic underwear, courtesy of PACT.

Eco-jewelry options also abound, but we are currently drooling over these shimmery glass designs made by SmartGlass with recycled salad dressing bottles, Julia Failey’s whimsical, nature-inspired baubles (which have become something of a celeb must-have), and Melissa Joy Manning’s elegant creations—all with reclaimed metals and ethically sourced gems for green cred.

For the Techie

The wide world of gadgetry is a hotbed of eco-innovation. Here are just a few select picks:

  • SimplTech (re)Drive: This sleek external hard drive is made with recycled aluminum and bamboo grown local to the factory, can link to the cloud, turns off when your computer does, and Energy Star power supply.
  • Suntastics s-Charger: No electrical outlet? No problem. This little guy harnesses solar power to charge to quickly recharge mobile devices.
  • IOGear’s solar-powered Bluetooth device: A hands-free car talk system complete with multipoint connection and echo cancellation—all powered by the sun.

For the Outdoorsy Type

How do we outfit the nature lover in green? Let us count the ways…

Bikers may like these pant leg straps made from recycled bike tubes by Green Guru Gear. Campers in search of a new pack may dig the Mountainsmith Falcon, made with recycled plastic bottles and ready for action. Other possibilities include recycled golf balls, a water bottle sling made with recycled plastic, and organic wool socks.

If your loved one has a more relaxed attitude toward the outdoors, try a recycled cotton hammock.

For the Experience Gift Lover

You know how with the three Rs, Reduce is often the greenest option? Experiential gifts are a fun way to reduce packaging and paper waste, with the added bonus that you get to infuse some serious creativity into your choices.


  • A cooking class: We love the Chopping Block in Chicago, the Brooklyn Kitchen in New York, and Hip Cooks in SoCal, Portland, and Seattle).
  • An outdoor adventure: Exhilarating options abound from paragliding in San Francisco to scuba-diving lessons in Miami to rock-climbing classes at REI stores nationwide.
  • A visit to a local hotspot: Lots of people only get out to see the local sights when out-of-town friends and family visit. Remind ’em how cool their hometown is with gift certificates for things like brewery tours, museum memberships, show tickets, and other local cultural offerings.
    Memory-making gifts, courtesy of Oxygen Paragliding, Chopping Block, REI, and a brewery near you.


    Memory-making gifts, courtesy of Oxygen Paragliding, Chopping Block, REI, and a brewery near you.

Eco-Experts: They’re Just Like Us

Yes, even world-class scientists shop! To make sure our list included items that are actually useful in regular, day-to-day life, we asked some EcoMyths experts with whom we recently busted myths to name one interesting eco item they can’t live without—and that’s relevant to the myth they helped us bust! (Because bringing it full circle is how we roll.)

Drumroll of expert eco-must-haves:

—> When it comes to cool green gifts, “the possibilities are endless,” enthuses Nicole Cavender, PhD, VP of science and conservation at the Morton Arboretum (who helped us answer the question what does biodiversity have to do with my coffee?). Her tip for a buy that can help promote biodiversity and a happy gifting experience is shade-grown coffee, like a gift-worthy package of assorted coffees.



—> “I love this really cool solar hydrogen kit for children and adults,” says ­Dick Co, PhD, environmental chemistry professor at Northwestern University, who helped us bust the myth that solar power isn’t practical. It converts sunlight into stored energy, which you can potentially use to power small engines—or just use to see chemistry in action.


—> Olga Lyandres, PhD, Alliance for the Great Lakes research manager, who explained the many ways antibacterial soap is not our friend, is inspired by these homemade soap recipes…though she’s the first to admit she’d rather get than give these DIY ideas.

—> “If you pack your kids lunch like I do then you know how great re-usable containers are,” comments Liz Soper, associate director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA, who helped us uncover the many ways school lunches can be fresher than you think. She’s a big fan of Kids Konserve’s leak-proof, BPA-free food storage options, which she deems perfect for school lunches (and for reducing trash).

—> Gary Sullivan PhD, senior restoration ecologist for the Wetlands Initiative (who helped us bust the myth that living near wetlands equals flooded basements) swears by his helpful guide to the Wetland Plants of Illinois, and, as you might imagine, a trusty pair of waterproof boots. (Keens has a few nice options made with some recycled material.)

EcoMyth Outcome: Myth Busted

Green gifts are actually pretty cool. Feeling inspired to look beyond the ideas we mentioned above? Use this link to shop all Amazon’s green products—and support our nonprofit work while you’re at it.