beyond lotion: 20 easy, eco-friendly gifts for women

I’ve been taking an unofficial poll for the past 6 months or so, asking women I know whether they’ve ever found themselves without lotion. It occurred to me that, though I have not bought lotion in years, I have about 3 full-size bottles and a few mini sizes tossed about my bathroom. The ladies I talk with express a similar sentiment; we all really like lotion–it comes in so many fun scents!–but there’s no way we will ever use six bottles a year.

It may seem like a trivial thing, but lotion is just one of many gifts that take up space in our homes and, eventually, a landfill. If we want to live uncluttered lives and respect the earth, we have to shift our gift-buying habits and (nicely) encourage our friends to do the same. Thus:

20 easy, eco-friendly gifts that aren’t lotion

1. A coffee card. Bonus points if you can find a local place that sells paper or electronic gift cards, creating less waste than the plastic card. Some towns (like mine) sell Chamber of Commerce gift cards that can be used at dozens of local businesses. 

2. Fancy chocolates. Theo Chocolate makes some great, fair-trade caramels. Or you can try to make your own treats! If I received nothing but chocolate for the rest of my life, I think I would be pretty happy.

3. Back massage IOU.

4. Flowers from your local farmer’s market. Bring your own (thrifted) vase and you may be able to get them without the plastic wrapping.

5. Or, for friends who can keep things alive, a plant in a nice pot. You can find plenty of cute planters at thrift shops. You could even make a little herb garden if you’re feeling ambitious. 

6. Homemade cookies.

7. Handmade jewelry (or anything else) from Etsy. You can even narrow your search by shop location to keep it local. 🙂

8. A flower crown from foraged vegetation. My friend Zoe does this for her friends’ birthdays–it’s great!

9. A cute, reusable jar filled with treats. Mason jars are easiest to find, though I really like Weck or Le Parfait canning jars.

10. Theater, concert, or movie tickets.

11. A small donation to charity. Some non-profits, like World Vision, have gift catalogs that allow you to get a fun, handmade gift with different levels of donations.

12. A small art piece from a local gallery–or your own studio if you have the creativity. 

13. A short poem, song, or story. Silly or serious!

14. Underwear. Who says you need to be getting married to get this? Your single friends deserve cute underwear, too!

15. One of your favorite books. As always, used is best and will often give the gift more charm.

16. Speaking of thrifting…go to your local Goodwill or Habitat Store and find something truly unique! (And useful, if possible.)

17. A cake. Or pie. Or one of those cute little tarts from your local bakery.

18. A subscription to a quality magazine (the kind you would buy because it’s relevant and engaging, not because a cute kid showed up at your doorstep). Some publications have an electronic option, though many of us prefer the printed page enough to offer a small sacrifice to the recycling bin.

19. A homemade face mask. There are plenty of recipes online for all natural, DIY beauty treatments that use items you might already have in your house. Just be sure to attach directions and an expiration date, since most of these should be used within a few weeks if not days. Reuse a small glass jar to contain it.

20. Offer to teach a skill. Know how to knit? Give your friend some nice yarn and schedule a time to get together!

These are the key principles I considered while making this list: Will my friend be able to enjoy or share this gift soon? How much waste is created from my gift? How does my gift benefit my local economy? If you find yourself in a time pinch often, consider creating a small gift stash that you can pull from throughout the year. I always feel less stressed knowing I have a few back-ups to grab on a busy week.

What eco-friendly gifts have you really enjoyed? What gifts do you receive too often? Please share. 🙂

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