A Frugal and Green Gift Guide

This year, even more so than before, it seems crucial that holiday giving be done in a cost-efficient manner and with a nod towards the practical. In other words, we don’t have a lot of money to spend and nobody wants to waste what money we do have on things that will get tossed in a drawer and eventually into the garbage. I like giving gifts, but I love giving a gift I know will be used. And when that gift is also helping to save the planet, that’s the (organic) cherry on top!

So here’s some gift ideas, all under $20, all good for the Earth, and all voted least likely to end up in the landfill.

Metal water bottles. Not only will the recipient be saved from the dangers of BPA, they’ll save money by not having to buy bottles of water when they’re out (find a water fountain or kitchen sink, refill, drink, repeat). The fact that fewer plastic bottles will need to be produced and then disposed of is a given. Sounds like a win-win-win to me. Sigg aluminum bottles come in lots of cool designs so you can choose one to fit the recipient’s personality; Kleen Kanteen makes a similar version out of stainless steel and they come in just about every color you can imagine. Price: Under $20.

Reusable shopping bags. Everyone complains that they don’t remember to bring their bags to the store, so solve that problem with ones that fit in a pocket, purse or backpack. They’ll never be without one, so saying no to plastic bags will be easy. My favorite brand is EnviroSax, because they’e so cute and fold up neatly with a snap, but a more manly version is the Chico Bag, which stuffs into itself like a tiny sleeping bag. It even has a little hook so you can attach it to your keys or belt loop. Price: Around $8.

Shower timer. A nice little reminder to save water, one of our Earth’s most precious resources. Check out this minimalist version and the Shower Coach–either way you’ve got five minutes, starting … NOW. Price: Under $5.

Eco-notebooks. Some people actually still like to write things down, on paper! Ridonkulous, I know, but true. So let them do their old-fashioned scratching in a 100 percent recycled paper notebook that’s sweatshop-free to boot! EcoJot. Price: $12.

Fair trade chocolate and coffee. Two great things that taste great together, and apart. This gift can’t miss. Unless of course the person you’re giving them to doesn’t like chocolate or coffee, in which case what are you doing hanging around with that person anyway? Green Mountain Coffee and Equal Exchange are two favorites. Price: From $2.

Green cleaning supplies. I know, cleaning isn’t exactly sexy but it might be a little more exciting without the nasty chemicals. Personally, I think there’s no better way to show you care than with a present that screams, “Please don’t foul your home’s air with toxins anymore!” Mrs. Meyer’s sells a holiday-themed kit with everything you need, but you can also make your own personalized gift basket with either Seventh Generation products (one of the best out there) or make a non-toxic cleaning kit out of baking soda and other inexpensive ingredients. Price: Under $20.

So those are my suggestions. I know you’ve got some too, so please share in the comments field below!


Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Thanks for the ideas.

Laura M.
Past Member 6 years ago

They sell Equal Exchange products at my church. They are SO delicious! The coffee is great!

Laurie Peterson
Laurie Peterson9 years ago

Thanks Jana! Care2 has a really cute shopping/tote bad. go to www.care2.com/shopping

Eva Z.
Eva Z.9 years ago

I love that some one else also had this idea. One of the local grocery stores sells smaller reusable bags that I fill with a rolled up large bag, some 7th gen products and a handmade dishcloth that is washable and reusable. They make great Christmas gifts for the people that everything.

Ronnie Citron-Fink

Thanks, Jana. I love giving Kleen Kanteen bottles as gifts. I agree with Melissa S., some of the Sigg bottles do not have stainless steel inner linings.

Melissa Scharfinski
Melissa S9 years ago

Beware of Sigg water bottles-they have an inner lining made of an undisclosed substance. They claim it is safe but will not say what it is made of! I love my stainless steel bottles, which have no secret lining!