When it comes to the holiday season, convenience is germane to our shopping habits.
While major conglomerates and their speedy shipping services make our lives easier, the carbon footprints they pose on the environment — using plastic, shipping in uneconomically wasteful ways — paint an upsetting picture as grim as Scrooge. But in a pandemic, when many retail stores have either temporarily or permanently shut their doors, how else can you shop and maintain sustainable ways?
This holiday season, shop with a sustainable lens in both the gifts you buy for the people on your list and the companies you buy from. From eco-friendly packaging to the altruistic ways in which companies rooted in sustainability give back to their communities, you can spread a bit more holiday cheer to Mother Earth.
Here at Public Goods, we’ve curated a variety of holiday bundles for everyone on your list, including your pets! Anybody buying a kitten or puppy for the family, or have an animal-lover to shop for? Grab our cat and dog bundles complete with high-quality items like kibble and treats — devoid of wheat, corn or soy — organically grown catnip, and plant-based waste bags and shampoo, all made in the United States.
Our shaving, essential oils, home spa and skin care sets come chock full of goodies intrinsic to a sustainable lifestyle. Free of lead, dyes, parabens, synthetic fragrances, sodium lauryl sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde or other compromising ingredients, Public Goods’s products are a clean and safe choice for the people on your list. While you’re at this, treat yourself to our self care kit, featuring some of our best sellers. You’ve earned it.
Many of our products come in sugar-cane based plastic, a sustainable alternative that typically has a neutral effect on climate change: the sugarcane crop captures CO2 as it grows. In contrast to oil and natural gas, sugarcane is renewable because it regenerates at a quick rate thanks to the incessant rainfall in Brazil’s tropics. To reduce our plastic footprint in packaging, we use 100% recycled material boxes and recyclable Kraft paper padding. To prevent leaks during shipments, we use a protective, reusable and certified home compostable bag made of biodegradable polymers.
Axiology Lip-to-Lid Balmies
Woman-owned and operated and 2020 Beacon Award recipient Axiology is dedicated to creating safe and sustainable “evil-free makeup.” Their vegan and cruelty free lip-to-lid balmies, 3 in 1 crayons for lips, cheeks and eyes, make for the perfect stocking stuffer.
Made with organic oils and plant-derived waxes and extracts, these balmies not only deliver a lustrous, natural look but also boast a certification by PETA’s “Beauty Without Bunnies” program. Using ten or fewer ingredients, they don’t have that heavy, cakey-feeling typical of drug-store cosmetics.
Each balmie is wrapped in 100% recycled paper — no tubes or plastics — which is made by hand by Balian women. The paper, Axiology founder Ericka Rodriguez revealed to her Instagram followers, is the careful and meticulous process of boiling shreds of paper that would otherwise litter Bali’s beaches.
Head to their website and sign up to receive 10% off your first purchase. There, you’ll also find other gift ideas like their “bunnies over profits” cotton hats and sweatshirts.
Sheertex Socks and Tights
$15 – $99
Dubbed “the world’s toughest tights,” Sheertex makes durable knee highs, thigh highs and tights that are a far cry from your granny’s hosiery. Say goodbye to clear nailpolish and its futile attempts to stop runs in their tracks. Rings and rhinestone bracelets that nag, clawing pets — even the prickly top of a pineapple — are no match for Sheertex tights.
Katherine Homouth, founder and CEO of Sheertex, remained resolute when people told her it’d be impossible to create an unbreakable pair of tights. Through innovation and determination, she and her team created a unique material that is not only ultra-durable but also fashionable. Argyle, classic back seams, lattice design work, and sparkly sheer colors will add a sustainable addition to wardrobes. Sheertex also sells unisex crew socks that feature its durable fabric in the heel and toe ($15/pair).
Final Reusable Cutlery
Since teaching millions of people how to “suck responsibly” with their reusable and eco-friendly collapsible straws, Final has gone on to further their efforts in the realm of sustainability. With their newly launched FinalFork and FinalSpork (which also collapse into a convenient pocket-sized container), the fight against single-use plastics continues to make headway. Choose from an array of eco-punned colors like cyan-ara plastic and porpoise-ful purple and smile knowing that your purchase came from a 1% for the Planet company. Partners of the nonprofit 1% for the Planet donate 1% of their total sales.
Ruggable came up with the brilliant idea to create a rug that could easily be tossed in the washing machine with its patented two-piece Rug System.
Each made-to-order rug comes with a lightweight rug cover that is both stain-resistant and water-resistant and a non-slip rug pad to keep it in place. But if say a pet, potty-training toddler or pizza-eating boyfriend makes a mess, un-velcro the rug cover from its pad and machine wash in cold water on a delicate cycle with mild, non-bleach detergent. The rubber pad can easily be hosed down so funky odors have no chance of lingering.
Have a friend on your list who just moved into a new apartment or a relative who renovated their kitchen? Check out Ruggables wide selection of area rugs and runners in multiple textures, shapes and sizes, featuring gorgeous prints and patterns.
By working with nonprofits that donate furniture and home goods to families and new mothers, Ruggable is a company in which your purchase goes a bit further this holiday season.
Note: New email subscribers will receive a 10% discount on any first purchase. Refer someone to receive 15% off.
Varies by Seller
Support artists and small businesses and offset carbon footprints with Etsy as you shop for gifts. With thousands of sellers to choose from, it’s easy to find those unique people on your holiday gift list: special treasures and strange oddities for that friend who collects taxidermy; vintage paisley dresses and hippie blouses from bygone eras for that niece with an old soul; personalized gifts for that sibling who tied the knot this year. Maybe you’re a writer and you wrote a story or a collection of poetry for someone on your list. Old Age Book makes beautiful leather journals adorned with meticulous stitching and embossed lettering for a personalized finish. Fill the pages with your writings, photographs, sheet music of a special song, and vintage paper ephemera to create a one-of-a-kind keepsake. The handcrafted touch, the words on the page, those are real and speak to the heart.
Varies by Seller
There are very few things as comforting and satisfying as the crackling sound of an old vinyl record being played. With music festivals and live performances on hold like many other forms of entertainment this year, a record is the next best thing. Did you have tickets to take your parents to see Chicago this past summer? Or maybe you and your grad school friends had planned to spend the end of 2020 in England for Elton John’s farewell tour. Head to a record store for a particular record and recreate that memory. Even if the person you have in mind doesn’t have a record player, you can always frame the record and turn it into wall decor.
Food Delivery Gift Certificate
Got a foodie or culinary connoisseur on your list? A gift certificate for a food delivery service allows them the freedom to choose their favorite foods, then puts their skills to work in the kitchen. Hopefully, they’ll extend a dinner invite to you.
Shipping across the U.S. (except for Alaska and Hawaii), Butcherbox offers grass-fed and grass-finished steaks, free-range organic chicken and heritage breed pork right to your door. In NYC, Farm to People offers a wide-range of seafood, beef, pork and poultry, fruits, herbs and vegetables from local farms that maintain sustainable and humane methods as well as add-ons to support local businesses like blueberry and ricotta muffins from Bourke Street Bakery and hot chocolate cookies from Ovenly.
Package Free Shop
Selling zero-waste essentials for the home, kitchen, and bathroom, the Package Free Shop also exemplifies a company rooted in a greener earth through its carbon neutral and plastic-free shipping model.
The Package Free Shop, the brainchild of Lauren Singer, is a one-stop shop for all things sustainable. Singer, known as “the girl with the jar,” garnered a following after a video in which she shows how to fit several years of trash in a single mason jar went viral. She has since gone onto promote a zero-waste, sustainable lifestyle through Package Free Shop. Though the brick and mortar locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan have temporarily closed their doors to exercise prudence in the pandemic, you can order a variety of products from the online retail store. Organic unpaper towels, orthodontic natural rubber pacifiers, reusable silicone bags, palo santo sticks and incense bundles, biodegradable natural adhesive bandage strips, sustainable condoms, massage candles, compostable hair scrunchies, alpaca wool hats and gloves, plantable colored pencils, star-shaped recycled crayons, biodegradable iphone cases, airtight stainless steel containers and stainless steel ice packs.
Note: All online purchases made by 12/16 will receive free shipping on orders over $35.
DIY Health and Beauty Products
Homemade gifts are underrated in the modern world, or are characterized by children or the frugal. But DIY products have become popular, perhaps we like to remind ourselves that not everything has to be bought off a shelf or packaged in wasteful material. Show your friends and family your love for them and their wellbeing by making health and beauty products using essential oils and other plant-based products. The internet is littered with recipes on neutral beard oils, lips balms and linen sprays. Just be sure to use clean essential oils from reputable companies and list the ingredients on your product labels for the people on your gift list. That way, they can be privy to the ingredients and check with their healthcare professionals if need be.
Support local bookstores and give one of the most treasured presents this year. Imagination, wonder, creativity and depth abound in the pages of literature. Just as unique as the genres are, so are the impacts books have on us. Best of all, once a book has been read, it can be shared with friends and family, donated to schools and libraries, or recycled.
Cazzie David, comedic writer and daughter of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame Larry David, recently landed the second spot on the New York Times’ “Best Seller List” with No One Asked for This. Got a fan of wry humor on your list this year? Grab a copy of No One Asked for This and pair it with a bottle of sustainable wine or place it in a basket with a mug, can of hot cocoa and gourmet handmade vanilla bean marshmallows.
If a picture is worth a thousand words the same can be said about its frame. Thrift stores and antique shops are often goldmines for beautiful and ornate picture frames at a fraction of the cost of the ones for sale in retail stores. Plus, they have a history. After you’ve found your frame, choose a photo (either from a physical album or digital album) and place it inside.
In a digital age, when most of our memories live in our phones, on social media, or in some cloud, a physical framed picture bears more importance. You can order prints of digital photographs at Walgreens or CVS or order from a variety of online companies like Shutterfly or Snapfish.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is fleeting, but our memories remain frozen in time through photographs.
Sometimes, the greatest gift of all is a special keepsake that has been in the family, passed down to each generation. Nana’s engagement ring, Pop’s pocket watch or that old rocking horse that’s been in Aunt Helen’s attic for forty years possesses a sentimental value that cannot be bought at a department store or on Amazon. The love and nostalgia that come attached to these heirlooms will have your loved ones’ hearts growing three sizes.
Holiday Sustainability Tips
Doing your part to maintain a sustainable planet doesn’t end with the holiday gift ideas. here are a few other ways you can make earth-conscious decisions through the holidays:
- Citrus Garland: bake thin slices of orange, lemon and lime in the oven to create a natural and beautiful look to your holiday decor this year. The scent of citrus, which most cats hate, will keep your furry friends from jumping into and knocking down your Christmas tree.
- Real Christmas Tree: aside from the nostalgia and sense of pride that come with chopping down your own Christmas tree and tying it to the roof of your car, a real Christmas tree deters unnecessary plastic trees from leaving the production line. After the holidays, chop up the wood and throw it into an outdoor firepit. (The creosote of most evergreen trees can damage chimneys.)
- Paper Chain Decoration: with homeschool taking on a whole new meaning in 2020, let your kids or students make homemade decorations. The classic construction paper chain with alternating colors will help deck the halls without breaking the bank.
- Recycled Wrapping Paper: use recycled packaging from your online purchases to wrap presents. Draw or paint snowflakes and boughs of holly on the paper for a creative touch on Public Goods’ brown Kraft packaging paper or wrap fragile objects in its latticed-work packaging.
While it’s easy to get consumed by the piles of presents and excess, we can avoid this shortcoming. It’s better to give than to receive, so why not extend that kind-heartedness to the planet?
Download Our Free Guide to Sustainable Living.
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