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9 of the Best Sustainable Gifts for the Eco-Friendly

Do the right thing by the planet this holiday season with sustainably-minded gifts.
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The holidays are a wonderful time of year to celebrate family, togetherness, and — depending on your worldview — faith, but as our friends from A Charlie Brown Christmas (made way back in 1965), are quick to point out, “Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it’s getting too dangerous.” Hopefully, it’s not too dangerous for us (an ongoing pandemic notwithstanding), but the planet takes a beating from the production, shipping, consumption, and waste that the season of giving generates. Let’s all make more responsible decisions this season and give gifts that, in some way, give back to the planet and to its inhabitants. Here are some of our picks for some of the merriest sustainable gifts for the holidays in 2021. 

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Paka Apparel The Costa Sweater

Gray Paka Apparel The Costa Sweater on a plain background.
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Ugly Christmas sweaters begone! This crewneck is not only elegant in its warm, gray heathered finish with the whimsical touch of an alpaca silhouette motif on the left sleeve, it’s also made from a 50/50 blend of alpaca and polyester for an extra warm sweater that’s not bulky. Alpaca is one of the most sustainable fibers on the planet, raised in Peru where the alpacas roam free. Beyond that, Paka Apparel has partnered with the Ministry of Vulnerable Populations (MIMP) in Cusco, a state-backed NGO, that works to guarantee single mothers coming from domestic violence and sexual abuse can enjoy a life free of violence and discrimination.

Save The Duck Nathan Faux Fur Lined Hooded Jacket

Save The Duck Nathan Faux Fur Lined Hooded Jacket worn by a model.
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Save The Duck is a 100 percent cruelty-free, vegan, limited collection of outerwear that combines performance and great looks. The Nathan is a classic puffer but made with soft, high density 100 percent nylon fabric, plus a faux fur lining for extra warmth and coziness. It’s lightweight yet resistant, providing protection from water and air, absorbing moisture, and drying quickly. It’s also machine washable! Save the Duck is also a certified B Corporation, the first Italian company to receive the designation.

Johnny Biodegradable Shoe/Apple Tree

Black Johnny Biodegradable Shoe/Apple Tree with red shoe laces.
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This one will not make it under the green tree in time for Christmas 2021, but the truly sustainably minded person shouldn’t mind the long haul, right? Johnny is a classic sneaker, perfect for everyday, casual wear. The difference? Once you’ve worn the shoe out or grown tired of the style, it is not only biodegradable, it will also grow into an apple tree! Johnny Footwear launched its Kickstarter campaign back in October and has already raised $73,000. Place an order now for an anticipated August 2022 delivery. The comfortable shoes feature a collapsible heel so you can slip in and out of them easily, a choice of red or tonal shoelaces, a coating of natural beeswax to keep feet dry, and a natural cork insole for comfort and anti-odor properties. Once worn out, plant the shoes outdoors, and an apple tree will grow from a seed that’s hidden in the outsole! Live in an apartment building? No worries: An additional tree is planted for every shoe sold. 

Reencal Composter

Man throwing excess food in the Reencal Composter.
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Ready to get into composting but don’t have the time or space to wait for one of those backyard rolling contraptions to do the job? Reencal can compost up to 2 pounds of food waste in 24 hours using an organic additive and water. The additive in combination with a carbon filter system ensures that the kitchen doesn’t get stinky in the process. It’s an Indiegogo launch, so get in on the dirt — er, ground — floor now. 

Bruvi Single-Serve Coffee Machine

Bruvi Single-Serve Coffee Machine set on a white background.
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Not that we don’t love the easy clean-up and convenience of our Keurig and Nespresso machines (not to mention the myriad of flavor options available), but all those little capsules are an environmental nightmare (made of composite materials that are nearly impossible to separate and recycle properly, they nearly all end up in the landfill or, worse, in the ocean). Enter the Bruvi, delivering individual cups of hot, full-bodied coffee utilizing B-Pods: They’re designed to be disposed of in a landfill and to break down much more rapidly than untreated plastics through an organic process that leaves no microplastics behind. Bruvi has also partnered with leading roasters like Mulholland, Equator, and Klatch. 

Hitch Water Bottle Bundle

Hitch Water Bottle Bundle on a plain background.
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Hitch features a full-sized water bottle with a removable, insulated cup stashed inside, so you’re prepared for refreshment all day long. You can even fill the bottle with water, pour a hot coffee into the cup, and lock them together so it’s one less thing to carry. It’s all dishwasher safe, but the Take Care Bundle includes the Hitch bottle and cup, a bottle protector cap, and an all-natural sisal fiber bottle brush. The company measures and offsets 100 percent of its carbon footprint and, with each order, funds the planting of one tree and the removal of one kilogram of ocean plastic. When a hitch bottle and cup reaches the end of its life, send it back and Hitch will recycle it, and offer a discount credit for a new one.

Firsthand Supply Shower Trio

The Firsthand Shower Trio keeps you and the environment clean.
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Firsthand Supply’s commitment to nature is obvious from the products’ fresh clean fragrance, but its beauty is more than nose-deep. The founders have taken a “People First” mentality, looking into every formula they’ve created and removing any questionable ingredients. As an example, Firsthand swapped out man-made fragrances for essential oils that may cost more money, but in the long run, are better for you and better for the planet. We particularly like this trio that features a hydrating shampoo with Aloe Vera juice, hydrolyzed rice protein, argan oil, and grape-seed oil; conditioner with honeyquat, avocado oil, jojoba 0il, and kaolin clay; and an activated charcoal body cleanser, also with Aloe Vera juice, and chamomile extract. 

Dr. Tusk Skincare Starter Bundle

Dr. Tusk soap is cleansing, energizing, and it helps save elephants.
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This Dr. Tusk makes natural deodorants, bar soaps, body lotions, and more, but beyond using all-natural, ethically-sourced, and cruelty-free ingredients (not to mention fair-trade caffeine in certain products), Dr. Tusk’s mission is to protect elephants by raising awareness and donating 5% of profits to charitable partners Wildlife SOS and the Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee. We like this Burmese Sandalwood Body Bar that features a blend of hemp seed oil, caffeine, and charcoal, leaving your skin hydrated and refreshed.

Dr. Squatch Suave Starter Bundle

Dr. Squatch Suave Starter Bundle on a plain background.
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Dr. Squatch “holds natural to a higher standard,” using International Organization for Standardization’s 16128 methodologies to determine whether or not an ingredient should be considered natural. The products have been designed just for men, without using any harmful ingredients or harsh chemicals to produce just plain better soap. Start out with a bundle of products like the Suave package that includes three bar soaps, a soap saver, deodorant, and a hair care kit: choose from a variety of natural scents like pine tar, cedar citrus, and gold moss.

John Jones

John Jones is a Jersey City, New Jersey-based writer who enjoys covering design in all its forms, from fashion to architecture, interiors, and textiles, and has recently begun to delve into the world of social justice issues. When he's not writing for The Manual, he's also the Digital and Fashion Editor for a leading menswear trade publication. Although he spends most of his time planted in front of a laptop, he gets to the gym and bicycles as often as possible. On weekends and holidays, if you don't find him at the Met, Cooper Hewitt, or Whitney museums in Manhattan, he's probably soaking up the sun at one of Jersey's fabulous beaches, or in St. Augustine, Florida.

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