The holidays are coming and if you're stuck on what to give your eco-conscious friend or relative, we've got you covered. At EcoWatch, we're big fans of homemade presents, products that actually help the planet, and putting our dollars towards a good cause. This year, our staff has rounded up some of the best green gifts we've given and received, as well as the items on our wish list.
Lorraine Chow, freelance reporter
Best Green Gift: A Zero-Waste Notebook
A very thoughtful friend gave me a binder full of ideas to encourage a trash-free lifestyle. The pages were filled with creative ways to use up food scraps, beauty and hygiene DIYs, as well as natural household cleaning tips and recipes.
On My Wish List: Who Gives a Crap's Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper
I wouldn't write a review about toilet paper unless it's actually that good, but I requested my family get me this fancy, three-ply TP for Christmas. It's soft, durable and doesn't contribute to deforestation because it's made of bamboo. The best part? Fifty percent of the company's profits go to help build new toilets in countries where they are needed.
Olivia Rosane, freelance reporter
Best Green Gift: Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers Cookbook
A cousin gave this cookbook to me when I was first learning to cook for myself. It has tasty vegetarian recipes (plus some fish), but also tells you how to cut costs and save food by substituting certain ingredients for what you already have in your fridge. Going meat-free is an important way to reduce your ecological footprint, and this book will get you and your loved ones off to a delicious start!
On My Wish List: Eco Snack Wrap
In my attempts to cut back on plastic waste, one of the hardest problems to solve has been finding a sustainable way to pack lunches and snacks while on-the-go. That's why I'm asking for an Eco Snack Wrap food bag this year. Not only are they attractive and environmentally friendly, they are also ethically made at a factory in India chosen for its environmental and fair labor standards.
Jordan Simmons, social media manager
Best Green Gift: Norwex BacLock® cloths
My perspective on cleaning has shifted from chemical cleaning to zero-waste mechanical cleaning ever since being gifted a set of Norwex BacLock® cloths. The microfiber cloth is woven with an antibacterial agent that removes up to 99 percent of bacteria. The set includes cloths for body, face, windows and kitchen, which eliminates the need for products wrapped in plastic or laden with unnecessary chemicals.
On My Wish List: Bambaw's Bamboo Safety Razor
The zero-waste lifestyle has inspired me to wish for this bamboo and stainless steel safety razor. The company strives to reduce waste while offering affordable, quality and zero-waste solutions.
Chris McDermott, news editor
Best Green Gift: Alchemy Goods Franklin Wallet
In my experience, being eco-conscious often meant paying a premium for lesser quality. Thankfully, Alchemy Goods does everything right. It's a surprising joy to take out this sleek and durable rubber wallet that shows no signs of wear after years. Made in the U.S. from reclaimed bicycle inner tubes, it won't slip from your pocket like vegan leather, nor fray like hemp.
On My Wish List: Voltaic's OffGrid Solar Backpack
This redesigned backpack from Voltaic in Brooklyn features highly efficient solar panels and a Li-polymer battery to quickly recharge a cell phone, camera or tablet. Made from 33 recycled plastic bottles, it's also lightweight, UV resistant and waterproof. The possibilities for taking a long hike (or even getting lost) seem limitless.
Irma Omerhodzic, associate editor
Best Green Gift: To-Go Ware Bamboo Set
Thanks to my mom, I have this reusable to-go utensil set. I try to make food at home whenever possible, but sometimes takeout just makes sense, and I feel guilty about the throwaway containers. My bamboo utensils offset my 'eco-guilt' a smidge. Bonus: The case that comes with the set is made of used plastic bottles.
On My Wish List: YETI, The Rambler® 30 oz.
I have my reusable glass water bottle that I absolutely love, but surprisingly I have yet to own a coffee tumbler that I can reuse. You would think an editor would be well equipped when it comes to anything coffee related. Why am I wishing for this tumbler by YETI specifically? The way I see it is that they produce high-quality products that should last a girl years!
Tara Bracco, managing editor
Best Green Gift: Personalized Reusable Water Bottle
I've been given several reusable water bottles over the years, but the one I use the most was from my friend Joe. It's lightweight with photos of the international nonprofit that we cofounded, The Project Solution. I love it because I no longer need to buy bottled water and the personalized photos make the reusable bottle extra special.
On My Wish List: LuminAID's Packlite Supercharger
LuminAID's solar-powered, inflatable lights were initially created for disaster relief, but after the founders appeared on Shark Tank, they expanded the business. Their lanterns are good for hiking, backpacking or other times you may not have access to electricity. The PackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger is on my wish list because it's compact, good to have during a power outage and it can charge a phone. LuminAid lights are also waterproof, PVC-free and can be recycled.
- The Essential Guide to Eco-Friendly Travel ›
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- 9 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas ›
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.