Sustainable Gifts

sustainable gifts

Gifts! A subject which is difficult enough already without the gifts being sustainable. What do you gift someone? I have always found it difficult. So when I decided I wanted to only gift sustainable things I figured this would be even more difficult. Turns out … it isn’t! I now have a list of things that I can always gift, in whichever situation. I think gifting even became easier! And so, I am sharing a list of sustainable gifts with you today. This way we can all gift sustainably.

Avoiding Stuff

Usually gifts are stuff. A candle, nail polish, books, you name it. It’s usually stuff. However, the behavior of the average Dutch person that causes the most negative impact on the planet is buying new stuff. And so, this is the thing we need to avoid. If we’d buy less new stuff we’d decrease our negative impact most. So, if we stop buying new stuff for others too that would be very helpful! Don’t know how to stop buying new stuff as a gift? Here is my list of sustainable gifts:

Food or Drinks

I mean, why doesn’t like food or drinks? There are some things that always do good. Vegan (and organic) chocolate, wine or cookies for example. That always a great option. You can make it as expensive or cheap as you want by buying as much or as little as you want. What I like even better is something you’ve made yourself. A home-baked apple pie for example, or a banana cake (both vegan of course!). That’s only possible if you have the time, but it is a really sweet gesture.

Food is not the same as stuff because it is a consumable. It will be eaten or drunk. It’s also something everybody needs. We don’t always need stuff. Food and drinks are essential for life. Both can also be bought sustainable, organic and vegan. Tip: I personally really like to buy sustainable food at WAAR, the products they have an original and pretty.


I’ve written a whole post on why we should prefer experiences over stuff. This is my favorite gift to give, an experience. That’s because I profit from it too! Haha. I’d say this is a joke but it’s true. You create memories together. A trip to a restaurant, a festival, an amusement park or visiting a museum. You can make this option again as cheap or expensive as you want yourself and the options are endless! If you’re low on money you can prepare a tapas lunch yourself and take someone to the park for a picknick. Do you have more than enough to spend? Then you can even gift a small holiday. I’ve gifted my boyfriend once a trip to Disneyland Paris (of course sustainable, by train) for a special occasion.

Experiences aren’t stuff and so they’re more sustainable gifts. Some experiences are more sustainable than others. If you go to an amusement park this takes energy, same goes for traveling by train. Visiting a museum doesn’t take that much energy or resources. It depends, but I’d suggest you just choose the things you or the person that receives the gift love to do. But one thing: do not visit zoos.


This one is sometimes a little edgy. But it’s only edgy if the person you’re gifting the gift to adds a lot of value to stuff. That’s because they won’t actually receive something. In this case you’ll donate an amount of money to a charity. In most cases you’ll get a certificate of some sort, to prove that you’ve donated. You can then gift this certificate to the person you’re gifting to. If you don’t have a certificate then you can just gift a sustainable greeting card and write on the card what you’ve donated and to which charity. You can gift an amount of your choice and so you’re in charge of how expensive this gift is.

I’d advice to donate to a charity the person you’re gifting to will like. If they like animals you can donate to Animal Rights or Sanctuary Lamana for example. If they’re into nature you can donate to Work With Nature or when they’re an intersectional feminist Bureau Clara Wichmann is a great option. Just to name a few!

Secondhand Stuff

In my personal experience most people never know what to ask as a present for their birthday or any other celebration. Let’s be honest. Most people in The Netherlands have more than enough stuff already. We’re living in a wealthy country and have great social systems. That’s why I usually resort to the three options above. However, sometimes people do know exactly what they want. A specific plant or book for example. In that case I do sometimes gift people secondhand stuff. But that’s only the case if I can find the thing they want secondhand.

Marktplaats is your friend here! But if that doesn’t work you can also try I don’t like supporting them but they do have secondhand options for a lot of products.

Gift Cards

I listed the gift cards last because they’re a last resort when all the other options don’t work out. That’s because they’re not always very sustainable. In a lot of cases these giftcards are made out of plastic. And it’s usually the worst plastic, one that leaks a lot of chemicals. That’s why this kind of gift is not my absolute favorite. However, it’s still better than stuff! Also, some companies have paper gift cards. Again, you can make this gift as expensive as you’d like. Just choose the amount of money on the giftcards yourself.

I’d suggest to only gift giftcards for experiences and from sustainable brands. If you gift a giftcard from H&M for example that’s still not sustainable at all since H&M is not a sustainable brand. Good examples are WAAR, the cinema or a specific vegan restaurant. But be sure that you know the person likes the store you’re gifting a card from. It would also be a shame if you gift a card from let’s say sustainable brand Organic Basics but the person receiving the card doesn’t like that brand. That would be a waste of money!

Do you gift sustainably?

Yours sincerely,

2 thoughts on “Sustainable Gifts”

  1. Thank you for those ideas! A gift I love to give is something handmade, knitted socks, a shawl or “plantthingies” I also love to recieve something handmade, very special to me when someone putted time and love in a gift.

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