Photo by Flickr user Paparutzi
Have you been seeing all the usual eco-chic holiday gift guides making the rounds?
Recycled paper journals! Batik bangles hand-crafted by fairly-paid village women! Reusable aluminum water bottles that donate a portion of each purchase to sustainable development!
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with these items, and especially not the noble idea of helping the environment and world community through the typically unsustainable consumer task of gift giving. But let’s make a new gift guide, shall we?
For yourself or your favorite ecotraveller, here at 27 rocking holiday gifts. Some keep you connected to or helping the world while you’re stuck at home. Others set the stage for your next great ecoadventure. And others make sure that you are sporting the best – and most sustainable – equipment when you get there.
Let the holiday giving begin!
Photo by Flickr user RHiNO NEAL
For when they’re stuck at home:
- “Life On Earth” Collection Blu-ray From the Discovery Channel
- The Arbor Day Foundation’s gift trees
- Juniper Ridge’s trail crew soaps not only bring the outdoors in, but they’re scented like specific trails in California’s Sierra Mountains
- A llama donated through Heifer International to help a family in the Andes make their own blankets and clothing and earn a new income, even if your favorite ecotraveller can’t make it there to help them do it
- Deborah McLaren’s Rethinking Tourism and Ecotravel offers not only an excellent overview of ecotourism, but also interviews with indigenous people and resources for your own ecotravel
- A CSA (Community Supported Architecture), also known as a farm share, that provides a box of farm fresh fruits and veggies to your favorite ecotraveller’s house every week
- 100% green power at home from a local provider like NSTAR in the northeastern US, or a national provider like Green Power in Australia, Bullfrog in Canada, and Green Energy in England
- A National Geographic gift subscription keeps your favorite ecotraveller in touch with the world from your own cozy arm chair
- A water buffalo donated through Heifer International gives a rural family on the Indian subcontinent milk to feed their children and shortens their time working their fields more than tenfold
Photo courtesy of WWOOF Itaila
To get your EcoTraveller going:
- A volunteering vacation either booked or as a gift certificate; Habitat for Humanity, Global Volunteers, Real Gap, The American Hiking Society, and uVolunteer have some great (and relatively affordble) options
- Carbon offset certificates from Terrapass or Carbonfund or lovely carbon offset gift cards from LivClean
- A foldable bike so your favorite ecotraveller can easily take human-powered transportation even when you’re battling with un-biker-friendly trains on the road (I have another one that’s too heavy; the Strida is fantastic though)
- Membership in WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) offers free room and board at thousands of farms in exchange for working on and learning about organic agricultural systems; gift a membership in your own country or your favorite destination
- Frommer’s 500 Places to See Before they Disappear to use as a bucket list to inspire your favorite ecotraveller’s travels
- Traveller membership in the International Ecotourism Society is actually free, though it opens up a host of resources, so it’s a great “thoughtful” gift
- A flight on a carbon neutral airline like the new Nature Air in Costa Rica and Central America
- Membership in the nearest community sailing club for a whole season of low-environmental-impact summer water activities (Google options near you; they’re usually quite affordable – Boston’s community boathouse has rates starting at $199)
- A hiking trail guidebook for your favorite ecotraveller’s nearest parks to discover new adventures in your backyard
Photo of Eastern Turkey’s Kaçkar Mountains by Gabi Logan
For when they’re on the road:
- Camping utensil set made from sustainably-sourced bamboo in a slim storage case (complete with carabiner) made of RPET, fabric made from recycled plastic bottles
- Recycled fabric hiking boots like these Green Kazoos from The North Face
- The Green Toys EcoSaucer recycled frisbee is made 100% from recycled milk bottles
- Eco-friendly beach sandals like 123 Raw’s hemp sandals for men and Feelgoodz’ recyclable natural rubber flip flops for women
- Filtering water bottle for making water drinkable in questionable circumstances
- A solar charging backpack from Voltaic Systems lets the ecotraveller in your life keep his or her gadgets going on a long trip in the wilderness
- Burt’s Bees travel toiletry set made from natural botanicals, including grapefruit extract and coconut and sunflower oils
- A solar laptop charger from Sierra or Sunshine Solar; perfect for fueling the lucky recipient’s dreams of living a connected life on a remote island
- ChicoBag’s 100% recycled plastic travel pack folds up into a tiny storage bag even though it has high-quality hiking straps (it’s a steal at only $30; who says eco has to be expensive?)