Plastic-Free Gifts for the Holiday Season

When I think about the big social impact issues of 2019, one thing really comes to mind: plastic. It seems everyone was thinking about how to reduce our use of plastic this year.   

My home is no different: after years of intensifying concerns about our society’s addiction to the stuff, my family reached its own tipping point a few months ago when our kindergartener came home telling me how bad plastic straws are for the environment.

Like many others right now, I’m scrambling to find the perfect holiday gifts, and trying not to forget about the ills of plastic in the process.  After all, if my kids’ appreciation for gifts are fleeting, shouldn’t the gifts’ impact on this planet not be so permanent?!

With that in mind, here are a few gift ideas that are as thoughtfully plastic-free or plastic recycled as they are fun and functional:


1. LEGO®

This year launched its first sustainable plant based blocks in the shape of actual plants. Made of sugar cane, these are the first of many sustainable products the company plans on rolling out over the next decade. I imagine they’ll still hurt when you step on them, but at least the planet doesn’t have to suffer.

“Plants From Plants (Made of Sustainable Materials.)” version 40320, LEGO®

2. Green Toys
The same plastic feel your kids have come to associate with what a real toy should feel like, but made out of 100% recycled plastic (like milk jugs). This brand makes great trucks, tea sets and baby toys, etc. and has even won green packaging awards. (Major bonus when you’re trying to un-box a gift for your kids while they cry hysterically.)



3. Bureo
Skateboards made from recycled fishing nets. They’ve also collaborated with Costa – a sunglass brand – on a collection called Untangled to make shades from the fishing nets. (Sorry, my kids aren’t teens so I haven’t shopped for many.)

“Minnor Cruiser Skateboard.” BUREO



4. Everlane Re-new Sweaters
Yup, sweaters from recycled plastic are an actual thing. I don’t understand the science of it myself (drop us a line if you can explain how you get a soft, plush material from hard plastic), but luckily Everlane gets it and lets me do what I do best: buying.  These very reasonably priced cozy fleece sweaters are part of their Re-new collection that is all made from recycled water bottles.

5. Klean Canteen Growlers
While reusable water bottles have been popular for years, Klean Canteen’s re-usable growlers are new to the market and can hold wine, beer, cold-brew coffee,  or whatever cold drink floats your boat. The coolest thing is that their specially designed cap helps retain carbonation.

“Growler 64oz.” Kleen Kanteen



This category screams out for some plastic free goodies to replace the plastic trinkets that normally wind up in there:

6. Brush with Bamboo straws
Reusable, organic, washable, sustainable straws – perfect to appease my newly environmentally conscious kindergartner (and, I would add, considerably less likely to be used as a weapon by her twin brothers than the stainless steel kind).

7. Abeego reusable food wraps
Say goodbye to plastic wraps! These all natural food wraps work far better than plastic and are made out of sustainable beeswax. Just be sure not to use in the microwave as wax will melt. (I may or may not have had to learn that the hard way.)

3 Variety.” Beeswax Food Wrap, Abeego

8. The Green Root Bamboo Toothbrush
All natural, sustainable, and nylon bristled. Most people would never think to buy a toothbrush outside of the drugstore but they cost no more than your standard plastic brush per unit and look way cuter (especially important if you live with monsters who leave them in every room of the house).  

Holidays give gifting can be stressful enough. These great purpose brands are making it a little bit easier to be more thoughtful with our purchases.

P.S. If you run out of time to wrap,  just tell everyone you were going “zero waste” and watch as your poor time management is lauded by friends and family!


– Adrienne Rand is Senior Director of Strategy at Public Inc. 

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