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How to Pick The Perfect Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift?

You know those people that talk about their birthday a month before the day, make a whole production of their birthday celebration, and have lists of gifts? Well, I’m one of them. In my defense, I’m like that with other people’s birthdays as well.

However, I recently became aware of how wasteful gift disposal is, so I’ve made it my mission to only gift items that my friends and family will love and use for years to come. 

I spent hours researching green gifts and why we should shop eco-friendly. Here’s why you should buy an eco-friendly gift and my selection of the ten best green gifts.

How Are You Helping The Earth With Sustainable Gifts?

Gift Statistics

It’s estimated that about 13 billion dollars were wasted on unwanted gifts in the US only last year. The amount of money wasted on gifts in the UK is around 700 million pounds and in Australia $400 million.

Altogether, that’s $24 billion USD, which is a staggering amount of money wasted on unwanted items. Think about what change we could have done with that much money and how it could have been used to help the environment. 

Cost of Unwanted Gifts

Did you ever wonder what happens to the gifts you give? Or, what do you do with unwanted gifts you receive? Do you re-gift, sell, exchange, or put them somewhere and forget all about them?

Realistically, the majority of unwanted gifts end up in landfills. Let’s consider the cost of material, resources, and energy used in production and transportation, all for the gift to end up thrown away. Plus, we don’t only waste resources on the gift itself, but there’s product packaging, wrapping material, and other decorations.

This means the real cost of unwanted gifts is much higher than what you spend buying them. Our environment ends up paying this steep price.

Effect of Plastic Gifts on the Environment

It’s estimated that 6.3 billion tons of plastic have been manufactured. Only 9% of this has been recycled.

Increased world population means higher demand for plastic, which results in a constant increase in the production of plastic and higher plastic waste. The end result is environmental pollution.

Think about all the gifts you’ve bought in the last three years. How many were made of plastic or had plastic components?

Even paper with glitter, bows, and coatings isn’t recyclable. 

Unwanted plastic gifts are among the most dangerous as these are disposed off after old usage. Together with plastic packaging, plastic gifts fill the landfills or are dumped into oceans with other municipal waste. Plastic can stay as it is for a thousand years. This endangers marine animals. Plus, plastic in landfills can leach toxins underwater and damage both human and wildlife health.

All of these are why we should opt for sustainable birthday gifts.

You know those people that talk about their birthday a month before the day, make a whole production of their birthday celebration, and have lists of gifts? Well, I’m one of them. In my defense, I’m like that with other people’s birthdays as well. 

Creative Ideas For Eco-Friendly Birthday Gifts

Gift a Service Instead of a Product

Services are among the best eco-friendly gifts. They don’t need any or minimal natural resources and are more personal and memorable.

These gifts don’t need to come packaged in a box and are an amazing alternative when you can’t think of a material item the other person needs. This especially goes for older people. They probably already have all the material items they need and will appreciate a service even more.

An example of service can be a massage, cooking class, foreign language lessons, or childcare (I guarantee parents will love this). You can also gift a car wash certificate or pay for a home cleaning or gardening service.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift a Service Instead of a Product

Gift an Experience 

Similar to service, gifting an experience is more personal and memorable. Plus, you can do the experience together with the other person, which can make you even closer.

An experience is a fun way to learn new things and make memories that’ll last all your life.

Some examples of experiences you can gift include concert tickets, sports events, ice-rink membership, horseback riding, and others. 

The key is to think about what the other person likes. For example, are they huge tennis fans? Then you can gift them tennis lessons. Are they musical? Gift them guitar or piano lessons.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Experience

But, experiences can be more than educative or just fun. They can be a way to make other person’s life easier. For example, car-sharing club membership will be Godsent to a new city resident on a tight budget.

Homemade Food

Who doesn’t love getting free food, especially if it’s homemade? Plus, this shows you’ve put your heart, energy, and time into the gift, and it’ll be more appreciated than a material item that the other person doesn’t even need. It’ll taste more delicious than store-bought food.

Food is a personal gift and less likely to go to waste.

You don’t have to go for a whole five-course meal (you can if you want to impress the other person, but it’s not necessary). Something small, just a batch of cupcakes or brownies, is enough. 

Homemade Food as Birthday Gift

You can be as creative with these as you want and decorate them in birthday motifs. Plus, it doesn’t take up much time. You probably won’t spend more time in the kitchen than you would gift-hunting at a store or online. 

Finally, if you aren’t sure what food the other person likes, or you’re not confident in your cooking skills, but you know the other person likes to cook, you can check your recipes and make copies of your favorite foods. Print them out, and bind them with a ribbon.

Gift Plants

Do you have a friend or a family member with a green thumb? Or do they love to be surrounded by plants and flowers? Then, you can grow your own green gift — there are many flowers that can be raised in a small pot at home. Make a homemade bouquet from your garden, or gift a potted plant.

You can also gift starter plants or bulbs so the birthday boy or girl can grow them themselves. These can be flowers or garden crops.

If you can’t grow your own flowers, you can buy them. But, make sure only to buy locally grown plants. This way, you’ll lower the maintenance and transportation costs, and your gift will use fewer fossil fuels.

Plants as birthday gift

Gift Secondhand Gifts

Used gifts don’t necessarily mean bad. By gifting something old, you’re giving it a new life. Plus, used gifts are among the kindest to the environment, as no energy or resources are spent on their creation.

Check out vintage and secondhand shops in your city. Or go to a Flea Market, or do an online search. You can find unique gifts at these places. For example, a secondhand store can have affordable unique homeware, electronics, clothes, children's toys, DVDs and CDs, cameras, sports equipment, and more. 

These places are full of sustainable gift ideas, and you may stumble on something new that’s a perfect gift for the person in your life.

Secondhand items are perfect gifts for eco-friendly people. They’ll love knowing the gift came at no cost to the environment.

Secondhand eco-friendly Birthday Gifts

10 Eco-Friendly Birthday Gifts You Can Buy Online

A Kitchen Compost Bin For Beginners

First on the list of sustainable gift ideas is this kitchen compost bin. It has a 1.75-gallon capacity, so it’s perfect for busy kitchens. My favorite part is that it’s small enough to fit right on the countertop, so it’s easy to put food scraps as you cook or when you’re finished eating.

The bin is odor-containing, so you don’t have to worry about how your kitchen will smell. It’s also pest-reducing because the oxygen can flow through the soft-close lid.

Why is it eco-friendly? It’s the perfect way to recycle food scraps and leftovers without throwing them away.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Kitchen Compost Bin

A Weighted Blanket For A Good Night’s Sleep

If the person you’re gifting has trouble sleeping, they’ll love this weighted blanket. Most weighted blankets are full of fillers, so they are too hot to be used in summer. But this blanket is airy and without any fillers. It weighs 15 pounds, and it’s best for adults who weigh above 140 lbs.

The blanket is hand-knit by women artisans in India. Each weighted blanket is made sustainably to make sure it’s good for the Earth.

Why is it eco-friendly? It’s 100% made of cotton and has cool cotton fibers that are soft and breathable. Plus, it’s ethically made.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Weighted Blanket

An Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat For Fitness Enthusiasts

I gifted this mat to my friend, who’s a huge yoga fan, and she loved it. The mat has a natural rubber grip, so you don’t have to fear slipping. 

It has a rippled surface that provides excellent traction. The closed-cell surface doesn’t allow sweat to seep into the mat, and a tightly woven scrim prevents it from tearing and stretching. The build quality is top-notch, and the mat will last for years to come.

Why is it eco-friendly? It has a sustainable construction. It’s made of biodegradable, 100% natural tree rubber without toxic foaming agents and non-azo dyes. There’s a zero-waste manufacturing process.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Yoga Mat

An Inflatable Solar Lantern For Campers 

I guarantee all campers will love this lantern. It uses solar energy to recharge, which means no batteries or power sources or needed. It has a battery life of 12 hours and a 12-hour charging time.

The solar lantern can be used indoors or outdoors. You can use it as décor and add some ambiance to your garden. It’s also a perfect camping trip companion as it weighs only 2.6 oz and packs flat to 0.24 in.

Why is it eco-friendly? It doesn’t need batteries but uses solar energy to charge. It’s made of recyclable PET and has low waste packaging.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Solar Lantern

A Kitchen Garden Kit

If you have a friend who’s into gardening, they’ll be thrilled with this gardening kit. It’s a great gift for both beginner gardeners to grow their skills and experienced ones to expand their plant collection.

The kit makes it easy to grow indoor plants. It has eight types of seeds, pots, plant markers, saucers, and a growing guide. It contains USA-sourced herb seeds, which you can keep on your porch, shelf, or a windowsill.

The kit contains plants that can be used later for cooking, such as oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, and more.

Why is it eco-friendly? The kit makes it easy to grow plants that can be used in cooking, so there’s no need to buy plants that traveled from far away.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Kitchen Garden Kit

Metal Straws — A Budget-Friendly Gift Option

By now, we’re all aware of the dangers of plastic. Straws are among the worst plastic items to use. That’s why these metal straws are among the best gifts for environmentalists.

The straws are extra long, so they fit tumblers of all sizes. The set contains two straight straws, two bent ones, and one cleaning brush. The brush makes it easy to clean both straws and tumblers, so you can use them for years to come.

Why is it eco-friendly? The straws are made of food-grade 18/8 304 stainless steel. They are BPA and plastic-free. There’s no oxidation or metal aftertaste.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Metal Straws

A Green Toy For Kids

Here’s something that all kids in your life will like: a moving truck. The truck will improve the child’s motor and fine motor skills and can be used indoors and outdoors. It looks like a real fire truck, thanks to the roof ladder pivots and removable side ladders.

The play toy truck is easy to clean — it can be washed in the dishwasher or with mild soaps and baby shampoos.

The truck is made of recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks.

Why is it eco-friendly? It meets FDA standards, is BPA-free, and has no PVC. 

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Green Toy For Kids

A Spa Set For Relaxing Showers 

The next gift is perfect for all women in your life — it’s an elegant lavender spa gift basket. The basket is packed in a bag with ribbons, and it contains 13-in1 lavender bath and spa products, such as bubble bath, shampoo bar, shower gel, body lotion, body butter, and more.

The products are made from lavender essential oils, which help relax, balance the mind, and calm the body. The products help detoxify the skin, boost hydration, and remove stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

Why is it eco-friendly? It’s made from a natural material, such as lavender essential oils.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Spa Set

A Solar-Powered Decoration

If the person you’re buying a gift for loves decoration, this is the eco-friendly birthday gift for them. This wind chime shines in bright colors: red, yellow, green, purple, red, orange, and blue. 

The chime is solar-powered, so it automatically charges and lights up. There’s no need to turn it on and off every day manually.

The wind chimes can be hung indoors or outdoors. It’s rain and moisture-proof, so it’s ideal for the backyard or patio decoration.

Why is it eco-friendly? It’s solar-powered, so there’s no need to use batteries, and it’s weather-resistant, so it’ll last a long time.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Solar-Powered Decoration

Finally, Get Some Eco-Friendly Wrapping Papers

The final touch that’ll make your gift stand out is wrapping. Don’t drop the ball now, but let’s stay eco-friendly and choose sustainable wrapping paper.

These are large wrapping paper sheets. The set includes six folded sheets of paper plus six gift tags of the same design. 

The design is drawn by the manufacturer’s London team, and it makes the paper look luxurious.

Why is it eco-friendly? It’s FSC-certified paper and fully recyclable. The ink is vegan and chemical-free.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift Wrapping Papers

Eco-Friendly Birthday Gift: Final Thoughts

I hope I gave you some inspiration for eco-friendly birthday gifts. It doesn’t have to be something expensive. It’s better to choose something meaningful. Or even better — gift service or an experience that will make a true impact on someone’s life.

The next time you’re buying a birthday gift for someone, think carefully about what they truly need. Let’s make an effort to stop wasteful gifting habits. This way, we’ll also be gifting our planet and giving it a better chance of survival.

Choose any eco-friendly birthday gift I’ve listed above, and you’ll make our planet and an important person in your life happy.

Marina is passionate about sustainability and works to help ensure our planet stays as our home for a long time. She takes part in environmental conservation by recycling and not buying single-use plastic. When not writing, she can be found with her nose stuck in a book or trying out new baking recipes.


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