How to find cool eco-friendly gifts
Whether it is a rugged outdoorsy type or an idealistic tree hugger, we all know someone who has a special preoccupation with nature, who likes to be around it and who wants to keep it as it is for future generations. The nature lover’s special affinities might impose a couple of problems when looking for the perfect gift for them, especially since they are a larger and larger demographic, with many companies fighting for their buck.
If we aren’t ourselves experienced with hiking or other such activities, we might give our friend something entirely useless for him when out on the trail. Likewise, if we aren’t aware of the latest certifications in the field, we might make the grave mistake of gifting our ecologically minded friend with something toxic to the environment.
That’s why the first thing to consider is what are the things that people who share the same niche interest as your friend have to say. How they tend to see things, what they like or dislike about particular products, etc. The best way to do this is by consulting the various internet hubs that nature loving people tend to congregate in. But if you’re in a hurry for some quick eco-friendly gift ideas, feel free to check the guide below!
How we chose eco-friendly gifts
What type of nature lover are you dealing with?
This is the first question you should be asking yourself since nature lovers come in all shapes and sizes. We did, however, manage to isolate two main archetypes, who despite having a lot of things in common, are different enough to solicit separate attention when gift giving.
The outdoorsy type loves hiking, mountain climbing and generally being around trees, rivers and other such features of unmolested nature. He does care about the environment more than your average Joe, but he also understands that certain compromises must be met in order to maintain a modern standard of living. He takes care not to leave garbage around the campsite but isn’t particularly bothered about fishing or even hunting as long as these are done responsibly.
The “environmentalist” type tends to lean more towards the social side of things. He does, of course, enjoy a good outing but is more preoccupied with keeping the whole ecosystem out of harm’s way by his everyday actions. They tend to be preoccupied with environmental causes, sometimes to the point of political militantism, and with their own impact on the environment. As such, they prefer organic food, locally made products, eco-friendly appliances and would make prime candidates for receiving vegan gifts in eco-friendly gift bags.
Just like everybody else, nature lovers appreciate receiving gifts they could use while engaging with the object of their passion.
Probably any nature lover would like some camping equipment, such as a tent or a new sleeping bag. Or something which will aid him in contemplating the great outdoors and finding a path through it, like a small scope or a pair of binoculars.
If the friend in question is already a well-versed outdoorsman, you should skip any of the basics and go for something he or she might have not considered buying. For example, flint, to start a fire, is generally missing from most nature walker’s backpacks.
The less adventurous nature lovers might prefer plant seeds, gardening tools or other such implements that will help out with a backyard organic farm. Small scale organic farming has really taken off lately, both as a means to supply one’s family with certified organic produce and as a relaxing hobby that doesn’t take too much effort. Even if your friend isn’t already into it, he or she is sure to appreciate the suggestion.
Consider your friend’s buying habits
This comes to add to the above paragraph. Regardless of where they stand on the outdoorsman-environmentalist spectrum, nature lovers aren’t really big consumers of commercially available goods. They enjoy being thrifty, finding new applications for things they already own, buying used items or building things by themselves. This doesn’t just help reduce their environmental impact but also gives them a sense of self-sufficiency.
Towards this, everything that will help support their DYI will be greatly appreciated. Think about books of home-made recipes for household products (window cleaners, toothpaste, soap, fertilizer etc.) or books on traditional plant remedies that they’ll get to make out of all the herbs collected while out camping.
Potted plants could also make for some cool eco-friendly gifts, especially if you are going to present them to your friend as a mean to reduce the CO2 in his or her apartment.
Consider the environmental impact of your gift
The best eco-friendly gifts should have a minimal environmental impact. There are a lot of things to consider here, and not all of them obvious. For example, an electrical appliance might be advertised as particularly energy efficient. But considering the energy cost that already went into producing it, is it really worth buying it just to replace a less efficient, but still functional one?
You also have to pay close attention that the intended gift has the appropriate ecological certification. Often times manufacturers and retailers simply staple an “eco-friendly”, “chemical free” or “non-toxic” label on their products without it being in any way supported by an appropriate institution. Although this practice is obviously dishonest, nothing makes it illegal as long as the product in question passes standard safety regulations.
That’s why you should always look for a label from an authoritative third party organization that specializes in assessing the environmental impact of consumer goods. There is a number of these, such as Green Seal, which evaluates the potential harm a given product might have on the environment.
The Scientific Certification System (SCS) takes a broader approach, factoring in things like sustainable forestry, organic ingredients, and recycled content. The US Environmental Protection Agency offers the Energy Star certification to appliances that pass its energy saving requirements. The Canadian government runs its own Ecologo certification program that is also recognized in the US.