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A Sustainable and Ethical Gift Guide for your 2021 Holiday Season

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

By Maggie Gallagher

I created this list to inspire people to shop sustainably and ethically this holiday season; even if it is for just one gift. Also, remember that no gift is ever perfect, no shopping experience is 100% green but putting in effort to meet those goals is so important! Don’t be too hard on yourself or others for not being green enough – it is a challenging task. Happy holidays and happy gift giving!

For anyone in your life: Thrift stores

I thought I would start with the most obvious and most inexpensive way to find green and ethical gifts. Thrift stores are full of endless possibilities for great gifts for anyone in your life. Not every thrift store has a great selection so taking this route might take a few trips to different stores and a good amount of free time dedicated to a deep search, but you never know what you can find. I found a locket with my mom’s name on it (Maureen) that was an amazing gift. 

  • Clothing Gifting a few outfits that you styled together could be a great gift for a boyfriend or brother that wants to dress better
  • Glassware (vases, wine glasses, a pair of matching glass cups) You could pair a vase with a bouquet of flowers and wine glasses with a person’s favorite wine/non-alcoholic beverage
  • Glass figurines, scarves, silk head wrap, or jewelry for your mother/grandmother
  • A sports related bomber or cool leather jacket for your father who would never think to buy that for himself but would love the gift 

For your busy mom: A cleaning service 

Some moms have an insane amount of responsibility on their plate. A unique gift this holiday season could be reaching out to a local person who cleans houses for a living and perhaps purchase a “gift card” for one full day of cleaning for any day of your mom’s choosing. Or if your mom is not the type to treat herself, you could have someone come a week before Christmas to surprise her with a clean house before the celebrations really get started. This could be especially helpful if you have family coming to stay at your house for Christmas and she won’t have to worry about cleaning up for company. This could be an expensive gift depending on different factors, but you could split it amongst other members of your family if possible. 

For your cool older sister: Leather gloves

Leather gloves are the ultimate cool girl look in the winter months and they can last a lifetime. Dents is a company that is dedicated to ethical labor, sustainability, and corporate responsibility through making quality products that won’t need to be replaced. They are a bit more expensive than fast fashion brands, but you are paying for an ethically made product. 

For dad: Vintage artwork from Ebay

Ebay is a great place to find really unique, vintage, and relatively inexpensive artwork. You can find some really cool stuff already in frames and ready to be hung. Obviously, “vintage artwork” is a broad search for a gift so maybe making the artwork personalized to his interests like a favorite band, a time period he finds interesting, or a favorite sports team. My dad loves the Yankees and searching “Yankee baseball vintage framed art” on Ebay brought up a lot of really cool looking pictures in frames that would look great in his office that were not expensive at all. If artwork is not your dad’s thing or he wouldn’t have anywhere to hang it, searching up vintage items on Ebay that are personalized to his interests would also make a great gift. Maybe a vintage sweatshirt from his college or a tee shirt from a concert he went to when he was young that he always talks about. You could also pair one of these gifts with a framed picture of him and his friends from college or at that concert that he could keep around to remember those good times. Another example is if something really interesting happened the day he was born and you could find the front page of a newspaper framed from his birthday. This will take a bit of searching, but could be a really special gift that is very personal. 

For your spiritual & crystal loving friend

Crystals and spirituality are so popular right now, but what a lot people don’t know is so many crystals are mined extremely unethically with child labor and without regard for the environment. It is really hard to find crystals that are sourced completely ethically, as mining is not the most transparent supply chain. However, a safe bet are crystal companies from Canada, as there are stricter mining laws compared to the United States. Happy Soul is a company in Canada that is dedicated to ethically sourcing their products and frequently has great sales and discount codes.

For your younger sibling, niece, nephew, or cousin

The World Wide Fund for Nature (a nonprofit organization) has a program where you can symbolically adopt an endangered animal and get a stuffed animal with it. This gift is really great because it is not just another toy, but also has an altruistic aspect. This stuffed animal on WWF’s website is around $60, but there are other organizations that have cheaper options with a similar program. Honestly, as a 21 year old woman I wouldn’t mind receiving this gift for Christmas! The animals are so cute, there are so many options, and this helps endangered animals.

The Her Campus National Editors write about products we love and think you’ll love too. Her Campus has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase. All products are in stock and all prices are accurate as of publication.

Maggie Gallagher

Manhattan '22

Maggie is a sophomore studying business at Manhattan College in New York City. Her hometown is Buffalo, NY and will always be a Bills fan. She loves following the latest trends in fashion, beauty, skincare, and everything current events- whether it be Kardashian drama or public policy updates. When she is not lounging around watching Tik Toks, you can find her hanging with friends or exploring NYC.
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