It’s the end of November and if you’re like me, you haven’t even begun holiday shopping yet. But don’t panic! I put together a list of sustainable and organic holiday gift ideas for you (and most of them are from women or family-run businesses). If you order now, you can finish all your shopping without ever having to go to the mall. There’s not enough alcohol in the world to give me the courage for that.
The Quick List
(links, photos, and details below)
Organic and Biodynamic Wine
An Upcycled Fire Hose Wine Tote
A Sophisticated Photo Book
Organic Tea, Vintage Teacups, & a Teapot
Protect the Elephants (and Rhinos) Mug
Award-winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cookbook and Organic Spices
Home Grown Food Garden Kit
Organic Fruit Club
Good Food Award Goodie Bag
Rock Icon Playing Cards (not organic, but they’re cool)
The Best Dust Pan (really, don’t scoff)
Owl Festival Scarf
10-Free Nail Polish
Goat Poop Lip Balm (yep)
Bamboo Tooth Brush
Recycled Fire Hose Travel Bag
But First, Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper
Wrappily reminds us that we throw away enough wrapping paper during the holidays to circle the Earth nine times. Wow! That’s why Wrappily’s wrapping paper is 100% recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable. And they make their paper on old newspaper presses.
Actually, presents don’t have to be wrapped in paper at all. Try using a piece of vintage fabric, the inside of a brown paper bag, a newspaper, or an old map. You can also wrap your present in a cloth reusable shopping bag and tie it with a bow. Think outside of the box, literally!
I love Ecocult’s clever idea of going to thrift stores to find old scarfs to use as ribbons. It’s a twofer: the gift recipient gets a present and a pretty scarf. While you’re at the vintage store, pick up some gifts. Buying vintage is recycling at its best.
Organic Wine — Always a good hostess gift
Let’s chill out and start things off right with some organic or biodynamic wine. If you aren’t sure where to find it, Organic Authority has 131 recommendations. And that should be enough for even your wino of whinest friends. If you’re looking for a wine to impress, Fetzer winery was given the United Nations “Momentum for Change” award for its sustainable practices. They are the largest Certified B Corp winery in the world and also the first TRUE Zero Waste certified winery in the U.S. Fetzer is striving for zero (99.9%) waste by 2020. Cheers to that!
Wine Enthusiast gave Fetzer’s 50th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon 89 points and called it “lip-smacking and well-balanced.”
Now that you’ve got the wine, carry it in this cool upcycled Wagner Wine Bottle Carrier made from reclaimed fire hoses from U.S. fire departments. You can honestly tell your friends a hot (literally, fire is hot) fireman used it to fight fires. If you don’t like yellow, you’re lucky fire hoses come in different colors. It includes a detachable shoulder strap. But the best part is a portion of every sale goes to help kids at the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation.
I think some of the most meaningful presents are the ones you create yourself. A family member recently gave me a photo book for my birthday and it brought tears to my eyes.
Create your own handmade gift with pictures of a friend’s wedding or a loved one’s pet (I made one with pictures of my neighbor’s dog—I think she’s looked at it a thousand times), vacation shots, childhood pictures, or photos of co-workers (the ones you like) on the job. I use Artifact Uprising because they use 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and I love their simple layouts and classic design. Their gorgeous royal blue gifts boxes ($10 extra) are an elegant way to present and store your album. I haven’t tried MILK (Moments of Inspiration, Love and Kinship) yet, but they use acid-free paper stock certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) (the certification ensures that the paper comes from responsibly managed forests).
Of course you can give someone a crappy holiday candle, but you might as well give them a lump of coal.
Many consumers don’t realize it, but a large number of low-cost, run-of-the-mill candles contain paraffin wax, a petroleum by-product borne of crude oil refinement. […S]tudies have found that it emits harmful fumes linked to lung cancer and asthma. While it would take years of burning paraffin wax in an unventilated space to make you sick, you can reduce indoor pollution and help the environment out by opting for green, non-toxic alternatives. – Wiki.Ezvid.com
100% pure beeswax candles burn longer and give the room a warm glow without exposing us to harmful chemicals because beeswax is smoke and soot-free. Learn more about the benefits of burning beeswax candles in my blog post Be Mine Beeswax Candle.
Big Dipper’s candles are 100% beeswax with 100% cotton wicks. There’s no paraffin in these candles. And their colored candles are dyed with eco-friendly dyes. Bee Organic uses 100% USDA Certified Organic beeswax. BeeHive Candles candles are 100% pure beeswax and hand crafted.
Bluecorn’s candles are 100% beeswax with a cotton wick, no lead or metal. They sell Chanukah candles, too.
Keeping with the bee theme, high quality raw honey makes a great gift coupled with organic tea and a tea cup or tea pot. You bet we’ve got some suggestions for all of that below.
Bee Harmony Honey/BeeSponsible
Bee Harmony is devoted to protecting and serving bees. Their site is a great place to learn more about what you can do to help prevent Colony Collapse Disorder, how to be a backyard beekeeper (sounds like trouble to me!), or how to attract bees to your yard.
Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey
Manuka Honey is some of the healthiest honey in the world. The honey comes from bees feeding on the Manuka bush on New Zealand’s North and South Islands. But not all the honey that claims to be Manuka is. Wedderspoon’s Manuka honey is packaged and produced in New Zealand. It’s raw, unpasteurized, and Non-GMO Project verified. It’s free of antibiotics, pesticides and glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup).
Bee Raw’s honey is made from artisanal beekeepers and small sustainable farmers. Bee Raw donates 1% of its profits to their Save the Bees Fund, which supports research and education focusing on bee health, biology, and nutrition. They sell honey as well as bergamont scented beeswax candles and tea. Buy a set with all three for $49.00.
Mario Bianco honey
Mario Bianco’s honey is special, like a work of art.
Honey guy Mario Bianco could identify a honey’s geographic origin and floral makeup like a master sommelier could detect regions and grape compositions. He was also a bee whisperer. — Saveur, 5 Rare, Outstanding Honeys You Need To Try
You can buy Mario Bianco’s honey through his distributor Mad Rose Group. They sell Miele di Castagno (chestnut honey), citrus, acacia, clementine, cherry blossom, and eucalyptus. Mario Bianco’s honey starts at $45 a bottle.
Carla Marina Marchese’s Red Bee honey
Carla Marina Marchese was the first U.S. citizen accepted into the Italian National Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey (who knew that existed?). Marchese considers herself to be a honey connoisseur. She actually wrote a book about it called, The Honey Connoisseur, which helps consumers understand how to “taste, select, and use a diverse selection of honey” (another possible gift idea). She sells the run-of-the-mill clover and orange blossom honey, but why buy that when you can try flavors like blueberry blossom, coriander, or Oaxaca honey? Comb (I had to throw in one bad pun) her site for some really interesting and unusual flavors.
A Cup with Tea
Give someone the gift of tea with a pretty tea cup. If you really like them, throw in a teapot (short and stout).
Clipper Tea, from the UK, boasts that they make the world’s first plastic-free, non GM (genetically modified), unbleached tea bag. But that’s not all they have to boast about. They are the UK’s first Fair-trade tea company and their teas are organic. You can buy it here.
Mountain Rose Herbs
Mountain Rose Herbs sells a 21st Century tea designed to help us relax, a 5th Chakra Tea blended to improve communication, and even a Fairytale Tea (maybe it will make all your dreams come true). Their teas are certified organic and Kosher.
Arbor Teas are certified organic, Fair-trade, and made with compostable packaging. Their Holiday Spice Black Tea is an Indian tea with orange, cinnamon, and clove. That should warm you up for the holidays. The Golden Ginger Turmeric tea could go in anyone’s stocking (or just mine). Click the “Health” tab on their site to find out the health benefits of each tea.
Tea at Grandma’s
If you want a tea cup to go with that tea, and you like the kind of tea cups your grandma may have used (aka vintage, aka shabby chic), check out Esty.com and search for vintage teacups. Antiques from Amy on Etsy has more than 500 of them.
Flowers with your tea
If you want flowers with your tea, you can pay a small fortune ($275) for this pretty Van Gogh Almond Flower cup, saucer, and spoon (bees are sold separately). Do not ask me to wash it, unless you have insurance.
Throw in a glass Hario Cha Cha Kyusu Maru Tea Pot (much more reasonably priced at $17) and the tea gift is complete.
Protect the Elephants Mug
Potter JoAnn Stratakos created this handmade mug to help protect threatened elephants in Tanzania, Africa. Buy it at UncommonGoods for $40.
For every mug sold, we’ll donate $5 to the PAMS Foundation, which helps protect wilderness habitats for Tanzania’s amazing animals. PAMS has helped protect tens of thousands of elephants from poachers. JoAnn dedicates her design to the late Wayne Lotter, PAMS’ founding member who worked tirelessly to stop poaching and disrupt the flow of illegal ivory. — Uncommon Goods
She also makes a Protect the Rhinos mug as well as a unicorn mug (I don’t think there’s a Protect the Unicorns fund…yet). Their outer space mug would be perfect bundled with a Ziggy Stardust album or Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Each year, some of the best olive oil companies in the world compete at the highly prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC). If you want to give someone a special bottle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), take a look at their list of Gold, Silver, Organic, and Best in Show winners for inspiration.
Best in Class –
Round Pond, Italian Varietal
Round Pond is the only U.S. olive oil company to win Best in Class at the NYIOOC. And, of course, I have to mention it because Round Pond is from my hometown of Napa. Way to go, Pond!
43 Ranch Olive Oil, Helen’s Blend
I’m always down to support fifth and sixth-generation farmers like the ones on 43 Ranch in California.
Berkeley Olive Grove, California Mission Reserve
Their olives are certified organic and kosher, their trees are heritage and sustainably grown, and their oil has a high polyphenol count, which means it’s high in antioxidants.
Ojai Olive Oil Company, Andalucian
Ojai Olive Oil Company is one of my local favorites. If you’re interested in how olive oil is made on a small farm, stop by the Ojai Olive Oil Company for a tour. Or pick up a bottle at the Ojai farmer’s market. Their olive oil is certified organic, vegan, kosher, and located in a working permaculture community. It’s also run by a woman, and a strong one at that!
Want more ideas? Castillo D’ Canena’s Biodynamic Picual won the “Best in the World” award at the Monocultivar Expo and “Best in Class” at the New York International Olive Oil Competition last year. Renowned chef and owner of The French Laundry, Thomas Keller, sells Armando Manni’s “Live Oil” from Tuscany here. Another way to find high quality extra virgin olive oil is at the Olive Oil Lovers site.
Cookbook & Organic Spices
Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables
Anything that gets the seal of approval from Alice Waters is right up my alley. But I’ll support any chef who gets the connection between healthy food and healthy farming practices.
Winner, James Beard Award for Best Book in Vegetable-Focused Cooking
Named a Best Cookbook of the Year by the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Bon Appétit, Food Network Magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, USA Today, and more
The Farm Cooking School: Techniques and Recipes that Celebrate the Seasons
Shelley Wiseman was a food editor at Gourmet magazine and that’s where she met Ian Knauer. Together, they opened The Farm Cooking School in Titusville, New Jersey on the Roots to River organic farm. I spent a week there learning how to make some of the best food I’ve ever tasted in my life. If you have a friend or family member who lives anywhere near New Jersey, give them a gift certificate for a cooking class. Otherwise, buy the book and enjoy!
Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. The perfect book to pair with spices. And speaking of spices…
Smith & Truslow
Smith & Truslow is big on flavor. They grind their spices in small quantities, and pack them in small light-resistant and airtight glass jars to help preserve the flavor. They offer organic sets like Italian Riviera, Taj Mahal, and World Traveler. They also have a Holiday Hosting set. Their pumpkin pie recipe with Coconut Milk & Anise Seed Crust sounds like something I might give up my ban on sugar for.
Teeny Tiny Spice Company
Teeny Tiny Spice Company is a family-run business in Vermont. They sell certified organic and kosher spices from around the world.
Give the Gift of Home Grown Food
Make a do-it-yourself organic gardening kit. Start with rare, heirloom seeds from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or Seed Savers Exchange catalog, a Homestead Iron trowel, organic soil, and Rodale’s All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. Throw in Jean Willoughby’s “Natural Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs” and a few potted herbs to get things started.
Organic Fruit Club
It may be cold outside (everywhere but LA), but come summer, Frog Hollow Farm offers an assortment of fresh organic fruit sustainably grown and shipped right to your door. Choose from apricots, cherries peaches, plums, pluots, nectarines or pears. The fruit is shipped in a 100% recyclable box approved by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Not into fruit? They offer a bunch of holiday gift ideas. If you’re in San Francisco, stop by their shop in the Ferry Building Marketplace.
Good Food Awards Foodie Bag
Put together your own Good Food Award Foodie Bag. Choose a selection of organic items from the 2019 Good Food Award finalists and gift them in a beautiful reusable box or bag. The Good Food Awards is a competition for speciality food producers and farmers who use sustainable practices.
Music Genius Playing Cards — Stocking Stuffer Idea
These cards have nothing to do with health. I just think they’re really cool. This might be something to combine with the wine for a fun game night. Buy them here for $9.99.
Includes 52 playing cards featuring illustrations of all the big names – including Madonna and Prince in Pop, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix in Rock, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan in Folk, and Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse in Blues – plus two jokers (Björk and David Bowie). — Music Genius
The Best Dust Pan Ever
No one is going to be psyched to get this…until they use it. That’s all I’m going to say, except: I’ll never go back to those horrible plastic ones again. It actually makes sweeping fun. You’ll have one your whole life, versus twenty of those horrible-for-the environment plastic ones. Seriously, just buy one.
Kantha Bae Kimono on Esty
Each kimono from Kantha Bae is unique and handmade by women from Bangladesh. Sales of these silk kimonos help them get an education and a fair wage. And you’ll look fabulous.
Festival Scarf from Shovava on Etsy
Let your inner bird fly, or H-OWL! This Owl Scarf isn’t for everyone, but it might be the perfect gift for someone (like the 44K people who liked it on Etsy). It’s perfect for wearing to a music festival or out bird watching at Burning Man. I would not recommend giving this to someone with a bird phobia. You can choose from organic cotton, silk, or silk cashmere. I can’t stop staring at it.
Reformation – Holiday dresses (a gift for you!)
I’ll admit Reformation’s clothes are made for tall women with no body fat (I’m neither), but still, I do love their dresses. If you live in LA, you can pop in and see their store. Their “wedding” dresses are great for a holiday party. Here’s why I like them as a company (did I mention they use organic cotton?):
Fashion is the 3rd most polluting industry in the world. We’re cleaning up.
Sustainability is at the core of everything we do — all our garments are made from super sustainable materials, rescued deadstock fabrics and repurposed vintage clothing.
We track our clothing’s environmental impact through our RefScale. It’s on every product page and it tells you exactly how much CO2, water and waste you save by shopping Reformation compared to average clothes in the US (spoiler: it’s A LOT). — Reformation
Healthier Nail Polishes
Nail polish has a bunch of horrendous chemicals in it. But that’s an easy problem to solve. Switch to one of these. There, problem solved.
BTW: When a polish is “ten-free,” it means it’s free of ten of the worst chemicals found in nail polish, like formaldehyde (a carcinogen), parabens (which have estrogen-mimicking effects which could trigger hormonal problems) and toluene (could cause reproduction and development problems, nausea, and harm to the nervous system). I can go on and on, but it’ll make me sick.
Sundays Nail Polish is ten-free, vegan, and cruelty-free and the colors are gorgeous. I love that they tell you right up front that their polishes are non-toxic. Why other sites don’t do that is beyond me. No. 07, Beige Rose.
Cote is ten-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. Their Red Glitter polish is perfect for the holidays.
Smith & Cult is 8-free. I love Opaque Poppy Red and The Message (dark metallic crimson) is a great holiday color. It’s the hippest nail polish site you’ll ever be on.
Butter London is 8-free. I love this Yummy Mummy Nail Lacquer color. Who comes up with these names?
Pacifica is 7-free, vegan, and cruelty free. Nothing like a little gold sparkle for the holidays.
Chanel is 5-free. You can’t go wrong with one of their classic reds. When you think pink, you don’t think sophisticated, until you try Chanel’s Organdi. Particuliere is also great in the winter.
Boomsilk Moisturizer- A Stocking Stuffer Idea
My friend told me about BoomSilk Moisturizer and now I’m hooked. My feet are hideous because I take four ballet classes a week, walk around in flip flops, and go barefoot, and almost never moisturizer them. What can I say? My tomboy ways die hard. So most lotions don’t make much of an impact. But this one does. It’s made with organic extra virgin olive oil, beeswax with bee pollen and propolis, raw Pupukea wildflower honey, d-alpha Vitamin E, and that’s it. No chemicals here. It works as a face moisturizer for both women and men. I haven’t tried the Boom Mask, but it’s next on my list.
Lip Balm – A Great Stocking Stuffer
Goat Poop Lip Balm
No, it’s not actually made with goat poop. That would be gross (just like Goat Yoga, but that’s another story). Goat Poop lip balm, by Red Barn Botanicals on Etsy, is made with totally natural and organic ingredients. They also have Horse Breath, Tea Tree & Herbs, and Unicorn Smooches lip balm. I’m not saying a word about that.
I love Dr. Bronner’s Naked lip balm. Dr. Brooner’s is devoted to making the world a better place, and this lip balm rocks because it isn’t waxy. It’s made with organic jojoba, avocado, and hemp oil. I always have one in my purse.
What could be more luxurious than giving someone the gift of sleeping on organic cotton sheets?
Especially since cotton is one of the dirtiest crops in the world.
“Issues arise at almost every stage of the process — the ubiquitous genetically modified seeds that strain farmers’ budgets, the pesticides used in cotton fields, the harsh chemicals used in dyes, the toxic waste that pollutes rivers, and the chemically treated clothing that ends up in landfills.” – The Washington Post
A Sustainable Bamboo Toothbrush – A Perfect Stocking Stuffer
The last thing you do at night before you go to sleep on your organic sheets is brush your teeth. Swap out the old-school polluting plastic and replace it with Mable’s bamboo toothbrush. The sleek modern design will look good in any bathroom.
Mable’s bamboo is sustainably harvested in China, the bristles are BPA-free nylon, the bamboo is fully biodegradable, the packaging is plastic-free, and the cardboard is recycled. Now you need something to put it in when you travel…
Upcycled Fire Hose Toiletry Bag
Yep, the name says it all. This DC Hunter Dopp Kit is made from retired indestructible fire hoses. Oxgut Hose Co. gives a portion of every sale to “helping the kids at the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation.” Safe travels!
Reusable bags always make a great gift. Check out 20+ of the Best Reusable Bags That Aren’t Plastic.
Feature image of box with bow KMNPhoto @iStock