Ready or not, the holidays are upon us—and with them, peppermint-mocha everything, cheesy movies, and of course, gifts. Here at Pack Hacker, we recognize that giving and receiving gifts can be meaningful and rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming—especially in regard to sustainability.
This is why we’ve partnered with REI to bring you 18 eco-groovy gift ideas for a more sustainable holiday season. Of course, buying and gifting any type of product has an environmental impact, but we’ve hand-picked items that limit that impact—from single-use plastic alternatives to gear made from recycled materials.
We’ve broken this list up into four general categories—zero waste swaps, clothing, gear, and consumables. Hopefully, you can find that perfect something for your favorite eco-champion. Without further ado, let’s check out some gift ideas.
If your favorite eco-champion stays up late at night fretting about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, then help them out by gifting them a zero-waste swap. Simply put, these swaps are reusable alternatives to common single-use items. Beyond sustainability, all the swaps we’ve featured are actually more pleasant to use than their single-use counterparts (at least in our opinion). Sustainable and a joy to use—you can’t get much better than that.
Think of the humangear GoBites Duo Fork and Spoon Set as the double-sided lightsaber of cutlery. It has a fork on one side and a spoon on the other, allowing your eco-groovy foodie to dig into any kind of on-the-go meal—from ramen to salad—without having to resort to disposable plastic cutlery. Plus, the fork and spoon stack on top of one another for easy storage. Your loved one can toss it in their sling bag, purse, or pack, and always be prepared for their next delicious adventure.See Details & Buying Options
A reusable water bottle just might be the original zero waste swap. (But don’t quote us on that). We like this bottle from Hydro Flask as, at 32 oz, it’s large enough to keep your eco-adventurer hydrated no matter what they’re up to. Plus, it features double-wall vacuum insulation to keep drinks at the optimal temperature and an exterior coating to help with grip. While it’s not lightweight, it is one of the lighter insulated stainless steel water bottles we've tested. Finally, it’s available in 11 fun colorways at the time of this post, so you should be able to find one that speaks to your loved one’s style.See Full Review & Buying Options
There are numerous reusable beeswax wraps on the market these days, but, so far, we’ve had the best luck with these from Bee’s Wrap. They’re an excellent alternative to both plastic sandwich bags and plastic wrap in general; they can be used to wrap up sandwiches, blocks of cheese, half-used veggies, baked goods, etc. Plus, you can use them to cover bowls for easy leftover storage. And, if you hopped on the bread making craze from earlier this year, you can wrap up your delectable sourdough in a slice, giving your loved one both a zero-waste swap and food, arguably winning the holidays (and, let’s be real, life).See Details & Buying Options
Spontaneous straw situations happen all of the time—random coffee runs, impromptu lunches, smoothie stands with mouth-watering images of strawberry-banana something-or-others. The FinalStraw will ensure that your loved one will never have to reach for—and throw away—a disposable plastic straw for any such scenarios. Like the aforementioned bee’s wrap, there are so many reusable straws on the market these days, but we’re really digging the portability of the FinalStraw, which folds up into a tiny carrying case. It also has silicone tips, meaning you don’t have to suck on bamboo or stainless steel like you do with other straws out there, and comes with a convenient mini cleaning brush. Also, the company donates 1% of their annual sales to environmental nonprofits.See Full Review & Buying Options
Fast-fashion isn’t exactly sustainable (to say the least), but your favorite eco-champion likely can’t give up on clothing altogether. So, we suggest gifting them clothes that are durable and responsibly-sourced—like everything we have listed here. These clothes are also great for both epic adventures and lazy days around the neighborhood.
The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Shirt has all of your classic travel t-shirt features—lightweight, quick-drying, UPF-protecting, and sweat-wicking. It also features some odor resistance, although we’ll admit it’s not as great as fighting the funk as clothing made from Merino wool. (But it’s also much cheaper than many Merino wool t-shirts.) Patagonia is all about sustainability, so the t-shirt is partially made from recycled polyester jersey and is Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. It’s also durable, so your loved one can enjoy it for years to come.See Details & Buying Options
This new rain jacket from REI is excellent at blocking wind and repelling rain. (We’ve stayed perfectly dry in our testing.) It’s made from 2.5-layer waterproof laminate and features pit-zips for breathability. That said, like most rain jackets, it’s still not incredibly breathable (which is actually good for blocking wind). The hood is also adjustable, so you can pull it over your face a bit and tighten it up on those extra windy and rainy days. Plus, it’s made from bluesign® approved fabric. So, basically, it’s the perfect gift for the eco-conscious adventurer on your list who doesn’t let a little rain—or a bone-chilling wind—get in the way of their next outdoor exploit.See Details & Buying Options
The Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket truly is a better sweater, which is why you may see so many people rocking it. It’s soft and seriously warm. Plus, it looks nice enough to wear to the office. It’s also durable. Your eco-adventurer can be rough with it (to a degree) without worrying that it’ll start to look dumpy. Its biggest downside is that it does pill, but those can easily be combed or shaved out with a fabric shaver. It’s also made from 100% recycled polyester fleece and is bluesign® approved and Fair Trade Certified™ sewn.See Details & Buying Options
If your loved one cares about the environment and enjoys running or vigorous hiking then they’ll probably like the REI Co-op Screeline Cap. It has an athletic aesthetic (say that ten times fast) and feels stretchy, light, and comfortable on the head. (Some hats can feel stiff and heavy—not the case here). It features a sweatband to keep sweat from trickling—or pouring—into your eyes, side vents for breathability, built-in UPF protection, and a spot to secure your sunglasses. Plus, the brim folds in half for easy storage—a design feature that’s #NextLevel. We’ve never seen it in a hat before. Of course, being in this list, it’s also eco-groovy, made from bluesign® approved nylon.See Details & Buying Options
Okay, we realize that we’ve featured a lot of Patagonia in this gift guide, but it’s a brand that’s committed to being as sustainable as possible (and is transparent about its current short-comings). Plus, the Nano Puff is an excellent jacket. We’ve tested it for two years while traveling the world, so we say that from experience. This jacket will keep your eco-warrior toasty in 30-50℉ degree weather—and it’s easy to layer when the temperature dips. It also packs down into its own pocket, making it perfect for minimal travel or outdoor pursuits. From a sustainability perspective, it’s made from bluesign® approved 100% recycled polyester ripstop with ethically-manufactured synthetic insulation.See Full Review & Buying Options
The gear in this section will make your eco-champion’s adventurers that much better—whether they get their kicks touring world cities or enjoy traipsing about the woods (or both!). Every item has been made with durability in mind, allowing your loved one to keep using it for years to come (and ensuring it stays out of the landfill for a long, long time).
The REI Co-op Beyonder Weekender Bag is aptly named as it’s a solid pack for weekend getaways. The clamshell-style main compartment will help your eco-traveler organize all of their clothes and toiletries, while the separate laptop compartment is great for quick laptop access. There’s also a removable pouch to toss dirty clothes or shoes. Its harness system is super minimal—we’re talking padded straps and that’s it—so it’s not ideal for travel that involves a lot of walking. But we do like that you can also carry it as a duffle. Finally, it’s made from bluesign®-approved materials.See Details & Buying Options
Peak Design was a cofounder of Climate Neutral, a non-profit that helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint. As a member, they offset the entire carbon footprint of their business—from extraction to delivery of the final product. They are also a certified B Corp, a member of 1% for the Planet (1% of their annual sales gets donated to vetted environmental nonprofits), the Conservation Alliance, and a few more that would be too cumbersome to list here. This packing cube, which is made of recycled materials, is excellent for travel or to organize EDC gear. (It’s one of our favorite packing cubes...and we’ve tested a lot of packing cubes). It expands, plus has an internal divider for primo organization.See Full Review & Buying Options
The Fjallraven Ulvo Hip Pack is the ideal sidekick for both urban adventures and short jaunts into the wilderness. It has a polished, simple aesthetic and, being from the trusted brand Fjallraven, has been made from durable and quality materials. While this hip pack doesn’t have a ton of interior organization, it has enough room for all the essentials and then some. It has also been made from recycled nylon, which is both water and abrasion-resistant.See Full Review & Buying Options
A camp blanket is just a nice piece of gear to have around. It works for picnics, as a way to cozy-up in the passenger seat on road trips, or as an extra layer while camping. This one from REI features polyester fiber insulation for warmth, plus it has a DWR coating to repel water and stains (and it’s machine washable). To be clear, it’s not quite down jacket-warm, but if you were camping in the fall, you would probably be very happy to have it. Keep in mind that it’s also way more lightweight and packable than traditional throw blankets. Its ripstop nylon exterior means that this blanket should also keep up with whatever your eco-adventurer throws at it. From a sustainability perspective, it has been made using bluesign® approved materials.See Details & Buying Options
Consumables are great gifts to give the minimalist eco-champion in your life. They’re still physical gifts—so you get the joy of wrapping something up and letting your loved one tear it open—but they don’t clutter up your loved one’s living space. Plus, they don’t create much waste.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? Okay, we know that some people aren’t fans, but if your eco-groovy loved one is a chocolate fiend then they’ll love this chocolate bar from Theo. First of all, it’s Fair Trade, organic, non-GMO, soy and gluten-free, Kosher, and the Black Rice Quinoa flavor is vegan. It’s also delicious. For the very-scientific purposes of this post—and not for our own personal gain at all—we’ve tested the Coffee Toffee 70% Dark Chocolate flavor. The chocolate is tasty, plus it has the perfect amount of crunch to it.See Details & Buying Options
It may feel a little odd to give the gift of shampoo, but the HiBAR Maintain Shampoo Bar isn’t ordinary shampoo. It comes in bar form with paper packaging, which eliminates the plastic waste from traditional bottles. Plus, it’s sulfate*, paraben, phthalate, and cruelty-free. Beyond its eco-grooviness, it’s simply good shampoo that has left our hair feeling fresh and clean with a slight smell of coconut. Finally, we want to mention that shampoo bars are great for travel and outdoor pursuits—your loved one won’t have to worry about spills.See Details & Buying Options
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap is the jack-of-all-trades of soaps. We’ve tested it as dish soap, hand soap, shaving cream, laundry soap, shampoo, and even mouth wash. Yes, mouth wash. It’s also Fair for Life Certified (a fair trade certification), not tested on animals, certified organic, and the company is a certified B Corp. Plus, it’s biodegradable, meaning it’s great for the eco-outdoor-enthusiast on your list (just ensure they’re following the leave-no-trace principles). It’s also the perfect travel soap since it does, well, everything. It’s available in a variety of scents too.See Details & Buying Options
This sunscreen from Raw Elements is a great zero waste sunscreen option, but it’s also pricey (for sunscreen), so it makes the perfect gift. It comes in a recyclable/reusable tin, so your eco-sunbather won’t create any plastic waste. It’s also a mineral sunscreen (with the active ingredient being zinc oxide) and is reef-safe, non-GMO, cruelty-free, and biodegradable. Raw Elements is also a member of 1% for the Planet. Beyond sustainability, we’ve been digging the fact that this sunscreen does not smell like sunscreen. It has a pleasant, rosemary scent. It rubs on smoothly, although there is a small white tint (as is typical for mineral sunscreens).See Details & Buying Options
Membership cards make for great eco-friendly gifts as there’s no exchange of physical goods. And an REI Co-op membership has a ton of great benefits (multiple members of our team are members!). First of all, all REI Co-op members get an annual dividend...a.k.a. free money to spend at REI (you can also get your dividend in cash). Plus, members get discounts on classes and rentals. Finally, members have access to certain events, including REI garage sales. Just make sure you sign up for the membership in your loved one’s name as it’s non-transferable.See Details & Buying Options
Have a Sustainable Holiday Season
So, there you have it, folks—18 eco-groovy gift ideas. Thank you to REI for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring us to keep the environment in mind this holiday season. If nothing in this guide really spoke to you, we recommend hopping over to the REI website to check out all they have to offer. Since they’re committed to sustainability, they have a ton of eco-groovy gear to choose from (word of warning—you may accidentally spend hours pursuing their website when you should be working…and, yes, we say that from experience). Until next time, have a happy and sustainable holiday season!