Sustainable Gift Ideas – Holidays 2020

If ya’ll follow me here on the blog, on Instagram, or watch my YouTube videos – you know I’m all about realistic sustainable living. Like, okay – we can’t all be an Earth hero all the time. But wow can we make small, subtle changes that make a huge difference. And I’m packed with sustainable gift ideas for ya’ll this holiday season.

I do have a YouTube video and a blog post from last year you can check out. But hey, it’s a new year and I’ve got even more eco friendly, zero waste, ethical, and/or sustainable gifts for you you guys to check out.

Let’s get merry with this lil’ gift guide.

First things first – why it’s important to shop small, ethical, sustainable, etc for holiday gifting this year

I’m always a big fan of shopping “better” where I can – but I think it’s extra important to do so this year. I love a Target haul like the next girl, but I also know that in the year that is 2020, there are so many reasons to rethink where to shop for holiday gifts.

I’m going to throw a little shade

I really hate the holiday season in the world of blogging because all I end up seeing are endless gift guides linking to big box stores and promoting endless sales. There’s a reason the bloggers you follow do this – many big retailers offer high affiliate link commission meaning when you shop their gift guide links they make money.

This gift guide you’re reading right now absolutely contains affiliate links – I totally support a content creator’s right to make a living. But like…at what cost? Is it responsible to be encouraging readers to purchase seasonal clothing and gifts that might end up in the landfill in a few month’s time? I question it. I also question pushing consumerism, heavy purchasing, and big sales during a year when people are suffering.

I’m all for content creator’s earning their living – I need to do it, too. But I personally think there has to be a more responsible way to “influence.”

Small business are struggling

Small businesses have always had a tougher time starting out than their big box competitors. It’s tempting to race to get the best deals at a big chain store – but your dollars make so much more impact when they’re spent at a small business. You’re literally impacting someone’s livelihood – their ability to continue to make a living from doing what they love.

The reality is that 2020 has been even harder on small businesses than years past. If you’re able to shop small this year, it’s a lovely gesture to make during a time when artisans and small businesses could really use the extra support.

Shopping small or not – the Earth needs you to shop ethically and sustainably when possible

Some of my favorite brands to shop aren’t exactly considered artisanal or “small” – but they are considered ethical or sustainable. There were moments during 2020 when we saw the Venice canals run clear. There were also parts of 2020 where we saw entire swaths of the planet burn, ravaged by wildfires. The reality is that global warming is real, it isn’t a joke or a hoax, and our consumer culture is to blame.

I’m really begging everyone to reconsider gifting items this year that you know the recipient will toss soon down the line. Shop smart, shop sustainably, and shop ethically. The planet needs you to do so.

We don’t need to “cancel” every brand – but we do need to demand some do better

I’m not going to drop any names here, but I’ve very consciously omitted some brands I usually shop regularly from my gift guide this year because their products may be “ethical” or “sustainable,” but their company culture isn’t clean. Your dollars are your vote – your vote for healthy working conditions and inclusive environments. Your vote for fair pay and fair opportunity. Use your vote wisely.

Strive to do better – not to be perfect

Do I still order items off of Amazon here and there? Absolutely. I’m not perfect. None of us are.

The world really doesn’t need perfection right now – it needs a whole lot of people making small changes and efforts to just do a tiny bit better. That’s it! I’ve never preached perfection because I’m not perfect (far from it). Let’s just promise to do a teensy bit better with our shopping this year because all of us doing a little adds up to a lot.

Rant over

Let’s get into the gift guide.

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Leather goods from Cuyana

About the brand

If you’ve been here for even ten minutes, it’s clear Cuyana is one of my all time favorite brands – truly because they’re ethical and sustainable in their practices. I’m devoutly anti-fast fashion. What I love about Cuyana is every piece is thoughtfully designed, well made, and sustainably/ethically crafted.

My favorites from Cuyana

The Cuyana jewelry case

I love Cuyana’s accessories in general, but their mini jewelry case makes for a beautiful gift for a loved one – especially a BFF or mama! I actually personalized their small jewelry case for my best friend last year as a holiday gift. These jewelry cases are great for travel or even just around the house. Made of a sustainably sourced pebbled leather – it’s build to last.

Cuyana’s cosmetic cases

I own two sets of these cosmetic cases from Cuyana and I use them all frequently. Again made of a pebbled leather and able to be personalized, they make the perfect gift for any woman (or man!) who loves their beauty routine.

Literally any Cuyana bag

I’ve got endless blog posts and YouTube videos reviewing various Cuyana handbags. They make amazing, high quality, gifts. I absolutely love gifting Cuyana bags as slightly “higher end” gifts for a loved one. We gifted my mother in law the Cuyana Structured Tote for the holidays a year or two ago and I’ve caught her using it a ton. I’d say buying someone a Cuyana bag feels like gifting something luxurious – and you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing it’s well made, crafted with care, and sustainable.

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Sustainable and ethical jewelry from Rellery

This section of my gift guide is actually a paid partnership with Rellery! Rellery approached me and I was blown away by how the ethos of the brand really aligned with my own. A huge thank you to Rellery for sponsoring this section of the blog post and also a massive thank you to ya’ll for always supporting the brands that help make my blog possible.

About the brand

The key things to know about Rellery are that their pieces are made with meaning (often able to be personalized), hypoallergenic utilizing precious metals only, made to last (they come with a lifetime tarnish guarantee), and are ethically sourced. There’s no middle man with Rellery, which means you’re able to get pieces made with only precious metals – but at a fraction of the cost compared to big box brands.

My favorites from Rellery

Signet Ring

The Signet Ring might just be my favorite piece of jewelry from Rellery because I was able to personalize it with my husband’s name. The Signet Ring can be ordered in 18K gold over sterling silver, 14K gold, 14K rose gold, or sterling silver. I am obsessed with gold lately, so opted for the gold tone. The personalization was also super easy and flexible – you can choose up to three lines of text with 12 characters on each line!

Cuban Link Chain

Dainty gold chains seem to be super in right now, and I totally get why. When I wear this necklace I feel rich – except I know it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’m obsessed with this choker and love to layer it with other necklaces to create dimension. I chose this necklace in gold, so again it matches my Signet Ring and tunes into my gold obsession lately. You can also snag this necklace in sterling silver if that’s more your vibe.

Bead Chain Bracelet

I’ve always dreamed of the perfect, dainty gold bracelet – but my wrists are SO small I usually can’t find anything to fit. The Bead Chain Bracelet, though, is adjustable to a small enough size it works for me! Again I opted for gold, but this cute bracelet also comes in sterling silver.

Bar Bracelet

Again, what Rellery does best is high quality personalization. I love the bar bracelet because there’s a huge open space just waiting for a special message! I feel like this bracelet could make an amazing gift for a newlywed – just personalize with their wedding date!

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“Clean” skincare from Elemis

About the brand

I loathe the phrase “clean” when it comes to beauty – because “clean” isn’t a term regulated by the FDA, which means anyone can use it without any supervision. That being said, I do feel like Elemis really lives into the idea of “clean” when it comes to skincare. Elemis is a U.K. based brand with 30 years experience in skincare – and they’re heavily backed by science. Birthed out of a desire for a skincare brand “as close to nature as possible,” Elemis is always innovative and not excessive in its formulations.

My favorites from Elemis

The Elemis holiday collection

Elemis isn’t a low price brand, so I always look forward to their holiday sets because I’m able to snag a whole host of their products for a slight discount. In the photos of this post you can see their 2020 advent calendar – which was THE BOMB. And unfortunately at the time of writing this post…it’s sold out. I’m SO sorry I didn’t get this post out sooner! But there are still so many other awesome sets like the Pro-Collagen Perfect Partners set or the Pro-Collegen Rose Duet set.

Elemis’ Pro-Collegen Moisturizers

The Pro-Collagen range of moisturizers from Elemis are luxury in a jar. They’re so hydrating. If you have dry skin like I do, you’ll absolutely love the Pro-Collagen line because it leaves the skin feeling plump, refreshed, and honestly more youthful.

The Elemis cleansing balms

Elemis makes a handful of different cleansing balms and they’re all amazing. I personally love that none of them utilize polyethylene (basically micro plastic) – many cleansing balms do! I’m really into their original cleansing balm as well as the rose version. Both are able to get skin and eye makeup off without any issues. I love to double cleanse after with their Superfood cleanser or this collagen cleanser. They currently have a holiday gift set with their top cleansing balms!

Reusable water bottles from bkr

About the brand

I am ride or die for bkr when it comes to water bottles. I have a few blog posts about my love for the brand – they’re THAT good. Seriously one of the simplest things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to go plastic free when it comes to your water bottles. It’s 2020 – we don’t need to be doing the plastic, single use bottle thing anymore. Even if it’s recycled plastic – it’s still single use. When it comes to sustainable gift ideas – nothing beats a highly giftable reusable bottle from bkr.

I’m not a fan of stainless steel water bottles usually. Glass just tastes so much cleaner. I also love that bkr is always so fun and personal – they come in loads of colors and exclusive collections! My husband always makes fun of my “bkr collection” – I love to shop every new collection, I swear. Like the destinations collection? I’m dying to add that Paris bottle to my stash.

Bkr makes their bottles in three different sizes – and truly I’ve found a use for all three. The Teeny is 250 ml, the Little is 500 ml, and the Big is 1L. I love the Teeny for inside my handbag while on the go, the Little when I’m traveling or for around the house, and the Big size for my desk – to really hydrate during a workday where I don’t want to get up to refill too often.

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Shop sustainable gift ideas from artists on ETSY and other sites

Let’s just hold hands and come together for a minute. And really admit that 2020 has been HARD. A global pandemic has been hard on all of us, but especially hard on small businesses. I’m making a real point this year NOT to shop for my sustainable Christmas presents from a big box store – because big box stores aren’t usually ethical, sustainable, or eco-friendly. What better way to do sustainable gift giving in the hard year that is 2020 than to shop small.

My favorite small shops & gifts

Custom pet portrait

As a cat mom myself – I really understand we all LOVE our pets. I think this pet portrait is so tastefully done and at a totally reasonable price! I love that the portrait is so personalized and also done in a beautiful watercolor style. The portrait looks like something you’d actually want to display as art! This gift is perfect for that friend or family member who is obsessed with their pet.

Personalized love letter blanket

This personalized “love letter” blanket is the perfect blend of cozy, sweet, and sentimental. Essentially you can write your loved one a note and have it printed onto this blanket for them to read and re-read over and over again. I really do love the sentimental nature of this gift. I’m big into writing cards and letters, so feel like this is an awesome way to memorialize a letter in gift format.

Made to order tie dye pieces from Do or Dye

I found Do or Dye on Instagram and they’ve quickly become my favorite tie dye destination. I’ve ordered several tees! Do or Dye is actually a one woman job – run by a law student! Which means every purchase helps put her through law school. Her pieces are super cool and every item is made to order – making it extra special and great for gifting.

Hand poured candles from Beam Aromatherapy

I’m planning to order a few candles from Beam Aromatherapy as soon as we get moved into our new home! I absolutely love candles and they make great gifts – but I don’t love gifting candles made with chemicals or other unhealthy ingredients you inadvertently end up inhaling as you burn the candle. I like a more natural situation, ya know? Beam Aromatherapy makes hand poured, small batch candles with wooden wicks using coconut and soy wax. Again, a small, artisan business where everything is lovingly hand crafted – a total gift giving win!

Shell pillow from Moi Mili

I found this velvet shell shaped pillow on ETSY from a Polish shop and I can’t stop looking at it. I know we don’t always consider a throw pillow for a gift – but if you’ve got a friend who has a flare for unique home decor and appreciates special pieces this is it!

Personalized pie pan

We’ve all got family holiday recipes we remember. No one else’s pie tastes as good as grandma’s, am I right? This personalized pie dish from a Wisconsin based ETSY shop allows you to have your family recipe handwritten into a pie pan and glazed so its oven safe.

Custom kids doodle plushie

Did ya’ll doodle strange creatures as a kid? Just me? Okay. But real talk – if you have or know a kid who has an artist’s spirit, imagine gifting them a plushie version of their art come to life! That’s exactly what this ETSY shop does.

Beachy vibe gifts from Tate & Tiegs

I actually own the shell candle from Tate & Tiegs, but I refuse to burn it. It’s too darn cute – I use it for photos on the blog (lol). The shop is packed with other beautifully hand crafted items, though, from candles to baskets to blankets all with a beachy sort of flair to them.

Hand embroidery from Marly’s Wicked Stitches

I purchased a beautiful hand stitched pegasus from this ETSY shop – it’s SO DARN CUTE and hangs in our reading corner. I love to check back every so often to see what other designs she’s whipped up.

Drop your favorite sustainable gift ideas from small businesses, ethical, or sustainable gift ideas in the comments below!

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