It's that time of year again! Loved ones are gathering around the fire to celebrate the holidays. It's a time of giving and sharing. Giving a gift is a beautiful way to show your love and to say "I know you and I know what brings you joy."
But is a tradition of giving material things really all that sustainable? As our values and lifestyles shift, so do our traditions. Here's a few ways you can mix things up for the planet this holiday.
We've put together a list of our favorite non-material gifts, plus a list of truly meaningful, useful, sustainable gifts for those moments you do want to give something tangible.
1. Give an experience
Over the years, I've come to value experiences so much more than things. I've decluttered my home, and if there's something I want, I usually do all the research myself to discover exactly what I want to invest in. When the holidays come around, I don't always have a list of new things I want as gifts.
But when someone gives me an experience, I'm over the moon. One winter, my boyfriend's sister paid for my lift ticket to spend a day snowboarding at Big Sky in Montana near her house. It was such a generous gift, and it's a day I'll never forget.
I hear this from minimalists all the time - they would so much prefer an experience than a physical gift. So what does that mean?
One of the best gifts you can give is a ticket to a class or workshop. Learning a new skill or trying a new craft is so exciting and if it's something you know they've been wanting to try, they'll love it even more.
Not sure what to get? Look for yoga classes, pottery lessons, painting & wine nights, a subscription to learn a new language, or a cooking class.
If your loved one is sustainably minded, we offer all kinds of classes and workshops. Everything from DIY soap making, foraging for wild herbs, candle making, Vegan cooking, essential oil blends… the list goes on. An Eco Collective gift card can be used toward any of our workshops and events.
Another great gift would be a ticket to one of our Zero Waste Dinners. They offer creative ideas for reducing food waste and a delicious multi course meal with inspiring conversation and herbal cocktails. We host the Dinner Parties seasonally, and you can view the upcoming dates on our crowdfund. Buy them a ticket (or two) through our crowdfund, write their name in the notes, and let them choose which date they want to attend.
Other experiences we thought of were movie tickets (you can purchase ones where they get to pick the movie they want to see), a ski lesson, or a concert.
Some one told me the other day that they were putting a Membership to Eco Collective on their Christmas list - I loved the idea! A gift that keeps on giving, that they can benefit from year round.
Some of the benefits of an Eco Collective memberships are access to our sewing machines and our library, which includes books on sustainability, climate change, zero waste cooking, herbal healing, veganism, minimalism and gardening. Also included is one free class or workshop per year, bulk jars to borrow when we launch our bulk section, and for every $100 they spend with us, they get $10 towards their next purchase. Memberships are also available through our crowdfund - just select the Membership reward and write their name in the notes.
2. Take someone out or do something special together.
Nonmaterial gifts can be simple! Take your friend to lunch or go on a long walk. Take your partner to the movies or go to a fancy restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Find a new favorite smoothie or bubble tea spot. The gift of quality time is so valuable.
You could even treat your friend to a day at the spa together or go for a massage. Ladywell’s Spa in Greenwood has amazing facilities with a sauna, steam room, salt room, hot tub, and cold plunge. Totally zero waste and totally relaxing.
3. Give them an eco-friendly gift they'll use and love for a long time.
Some of our favorites are:
The perfect gift for the creative in your life, these pens are a beautiful and simple gift that’s built to last. Ours have replaceable ink cartridges, and come in all kinds of beautiful colors and finishes. Our Sport fountain pens come in a cherry red, a light mint and a transparent and our high quality metal fountain pens will patina naturally with your writing style. They’re small enough to tuck in your purse or wallet while your running errands, and beautiful enough to use for all your journaling, goal setting, letter writing needs.
These beautiful cotton towels are highly absorbent and luxuriously lightweight. They serve as a scarf, hand towel, beach towel, picnic blanket, you name it. The perfect gift for your well traveled friend or the minimalist in your life. Bea Johnson swears by them.
Essential Oil Scented Candle
Who doesn’t love a new candle to light up their home? With our natural, high quality essential oil blends, you can’t go wrong. We have everything from floral to woodsy to the perfect cardamom vanilla. If you're in Seattle, come into our store to pick your favorite scent!
These stunningly unique wooden serving utensils are the perfect gift for the culinary enthusiast in your life. Whether they’re a foodie, a chef, or just love beautiful things, this will make a lovely addition to their kitchen collection. Here at Eco Collective, we’re all about useful gifts. Anything frivolous seems destined for the landfill, but what’s important is choosing functional items that bring joy and light into the home.
These are such a chic and useful gift. They’re a total upgrade to worn out plastic food storage containers and they’re perfect for some one who works in an office or brings home leftovers. What's nice about metal is it's lightweight, durable, and nontoxic. This is also a good gift for a college student or someone who is new to zero waste.
I LOVE getting books as gifts. Reading is one of the best ways you can invest in yourself - by learning and experiencing new ideas. One year my parents bought me a set of books on entrepreneurship, productivity and sustainable business… Probably one of my favorite presents to date! A book on a topic they love is such a thoughtful and enjoyable gift.
Coffee or tea filter
This is a fun and unique reusable gift for the coffee or tea lover in your life. Reusable cotton filters are used by so many South American cultures, and it’s a beautiful tradition, whether you’re making pour over coffee or loose leaf tea.
We carry organic cotton coffee filters and tea filters. We have a travel coffee filter as well as one for a standard coffee maker or a pour over set. We even have a nut milk filter, for those interested in making their own plant-based milk. A french press would be a great sustainable gift as well.
A Zero Waste Starter Kit
If you have a friend who’s just getting into zero waste, a zero waste starter kit is the perfect gift.
4. Give a handmade gift
Handmade gifts are the most meaningful of all. Knowing some one took the time to make your gift feels so nice. Last Christmas my sister made me an exfoliating scrub that smelled like grapefruit and citrus, and I love using it on the weekends for a little pick-me-up! She also made me reusable hand warmers with rice and fabric one year, and I use those to this day. Other handmade gifts I’ve received - a knit headband, a spice blend, and a hand lotion. So easy and fun to make, and always fun to receive.
5. Gift food or a kit they can make themselves
One of my best friends makes delicious toffees and cookies every Christmas, and it’s such a fun gift to receive. The cookies are delicious, and the toffee I get to keep for myself because my boyfriend doesn’t like it. ; )
Another friend of mine does a Liquid Christmas with her family. Your gifts can only be liquid, and it makes for some pretty creative gift giving! A bottle of wine, homemade hot sauce, their favorite kombucha... Such a great idea!
There’s a woman in Seattle who makes AMAZING spice blends in little reusable jars. Her company name is Avenue South and our favorite blend is Purple Rain. It has Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Black Pepper, Red Pepper, Garlic and Kosher Salt. I use it on everything.
One woman I know is giving a kit to make your own tonic water for cocktails. It’s a beautiful process with ingredients like bark, allspice berries, lemon zest, and citric acid. She’s putting all the ingredients into one of our 38 oz jars and putting it under the tree. Such a fun project - I would love to receive such a thoughtful gift!
6. Invest in a gift from a company you believe in.
Finding gifts from a company that aligns with your loved one's interests or values is another great way to go.
I spend every spare moment I have enjoying the outdoors and exploring the Pacific Northwest. For a nature lover like me, investing in high quality outdoor gear from planet conscious companies like Patagonia or Ascent Outdoors is a thoughtful gift. My boyfriend has given me a puffy jacket from Outdoor Research and a pannier from Tourbon… things I use every day are the best gifts in my book.
7. Small gifts that they’ll love to receive
Little gifts are purposeful without cluttering some one’s home, and they make good stocking stuffers too.
These are a fun reusable gift for kids and adults alike. Our silver, iridescent and gold straws come in all shapes and sizes. Whether they’re for morning juice or evening cocktails, we’ve got you covered.
An ordinary item that’s used everyday that’s also beautiful and sustainable.
Our peppermint foot balm is relaxing and soothing to tired feet. A great gift for a teacher, an entrepreneur, or any one who’s on their feet all day.
Did you know that most nail polish has toxic chemicals that get absorbed through your nail beds? That’s a scary thought. Our new line of nontoxic nail polish has none of the usual chemicals and it’s also Vegan and cruelty free. The soy nail polish remover smells amazing and makes a great gift set.
Our plastic free phone cases come in a variety of colors and fit several iPhone sizes. A fun gift for any one. And yes, that's our nail polish in the photo too!
These lovely cotton hair ties are organic and plastic free. The perfect stocking stuffer or small gift. They work for any hair type and are a sophisticated alternative to the run-of-the mill elastic kind.
Whatever you decide to give, we wish you an intentional, sustainable, delightful holiday season. Come into the store on Ballard Avenue for more ideas and beautiful sustainable gifts all in one place.