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The ultimate eco-friendly gift guide for 2020

Well, it’s November, and in that means seeing Christmas decorations immediately after Halloween and planning your Christmas shopping, hopefully in a way that uplifts the local economy and doesn’t harm the environment. SO I thought I’d put together an eco-friendly holiday guide to give you some inspiration. Below are 11 eco-friendly ideas for you to enjoy, but first:

Do your best to make sure it’s something they want and will use

We’ve all received that gift that was just.. off. It’s awkward, and can create unnecessary waste and clutter in our homes and landfills. While it’s hard to be foolproof even with the best intentions, it helps to try to figure out the person’s (life)style, think about what they want and need, and consider offering an “experience” gift instead of a physical gift that could end up as clutter. For example:

1. A professional massage

If you want the person to really love you, gift them a voucher for a massage. 2020’s been a year, and I honestly don’t know a single person who won’t groan with longing at the idea of a nice, relaxing massage. Heck, get yourself one too while you’re at it. Just make sure to shop small independent massage parlors to support the local economy. If you’re in Montreal and looking for recommendations, check out Gabriela Rivera in St. Henri. I got a massage there recently and loved it. Mention this article and you will get an extra 15 mins FREE when you buy your first 60-minute massage! That’s right, 75 minutes for the price of 60. Your body will thank you.

2. Zero waste starter kit

Zero waste is in these days, and it’s never too late to start your zero waste journey. And remember, it’s impossible to actually be zero waste at this time, but there are ways to get closer and closer to it. Local companies can help! You can order a premade kit from companies like BKIND (from Montreal), Life Without Plastic (from Gatineau), or Reimagine (from London, ON). OR you can put one together yourself by shopping exclusively at Quebec-owned small businesses. Here are some relatively easy swaps to offer to a beginner:

  • Dryer wool balls to replace dryer sheets – for example, from The Unscented Company
  • Bamboo toothbruthes – of course, the most emblematic product of the zero waste movement. BKIND has them, and so do a lot of pharmacies now actually, yay!
  • Zero-waste toothpaste – in tabs from BKIND or as a paste in a little glass jar from Life Without Plastic or Camiella.
  • Compostable floss – I personally love this and put it in my compost after use. Starter pack and refills available from Life Without Plastic.
  • Compostable cleaning wipesKLIIN is a Quebec company that offers ones that are super cute and colourful (examples pictured below).

To make this process easier, you can go to your local zero waste store and purchase most of these things in one place (I go to Mega Vrac in Montreal). A thorough guide of zero waste stores in Montreal is available on eversoslow’s blog.

3. A really good candle

Good candles are my favourite – they have a calming effect as you burn them, they smell great, and you can reuse the containers in a million ways when you’re done with them. Do your best to choose candles that are made out of soy wax, beeswax or coconut wax – they’ll burn and smell a lot better than the cheaper, petrolium-based ones (and are more environmentally-friendly, too!). My all-time favourite candle is a tie between this candle that smells like a chocolate shop and this one that smells like Christmas trees and love. Both are sold by small Canadian businesses in Ottawa and Montreal.

4. Bath bombs or salts

Kind of like idea #1, we can all use a relaxing night soaking in a bath. Passion Lavande is one Quebec company offers lavender bath bombs and salts. Try to choose products that use minimal plastic packaging, and make sure the person has access to a bathtub before gifting.

Photo credit: Taryn Elliott on Pexels

5. Yoga classes

With quarantine and other things in full swing, a yoga practice can be very helpful for many people. Many yoga studios offer virtual class packages and even private lessons. If you’re in Montreal, check out Yoga Vieux Montreal. Tanya is the best yoga teacher in the city.

Photo credit: cottonbro on Pexels

6. Masterclass subscription

This idea is a bit more expensive ($240 CAD + tax for an annual subscription), but it’s a great “experience” gift for a loved one and requires no packaging. I got myself a subscription back in March and I’ve learned a lot so far on all kinds of random topics, from comedy to communication to gardening to self-made entrepreneurship. I was told once to “learn from the best”, and Masterclass is pretty good at delivering just that, in high-definition. Also works as a great gift for yourself 😉

7. Camiella skin care (and soaps and natural deodorant)

I met the founder of Camiella at a Christmas market last year and she seemed like this zen person who is deeply connected to and passionate about wild and medicinal herbs found in Quebec forests. She harvests them herself and uses them in her products. I ordered the personalized face cream and it’s good quality. I like her natural deodorant too. It’s the kind of small, local, eco-friendly business that I’d feel good supporting during this time.

8. Ready-to-make mason jar meal kits (or cookie kits)

You’ve seen these if you hang around zero waste shops like Frenco in Montreal. They’re super cute and practical – all of the ingredients needed for a particular dish or dessert are neatly layered in a mason jar, and the person just has to add water (and maybe some other wet ingredients) and it’s ready for cooking or baking. After the person has made the soup or stew or cookies or brownies, they can use the jar to start or build their zero waste pantry or use it as a vase for fresh flowers. You can actually DIY these using old pasta sauce jars or purchase ready-made ones at a zero waste store like Frenco. I love this idea. Just remember to check if the person has allergies and/or diet restrictions.

This brownies mix jar looks sooo good. Image courtesy of https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/recipes-for-gifts-in-a-jar/

9. Funky earrings if that’s their style

Mentioning this one because it’s one of my favourite recent discoveries: earrings made out of upcycled school binders and shampoo bottles by a company called Pattern Gems. With recycling being uncovered as a bit of a scam, I love the idea of turning old plastic into something useful via a very low-emissions process. I was gifted a pair and I love them.

10. Hot chocolate bombs

Comforting hot beverages are generally a welcome treat, especially during cold weather. Montreal’s Faierly Baked (that’s FAI-E-RLY baked) takes this to the next level and offers hot chocolate BOMBS that come in minimal packaging and melt in the most drool-worthy way when you pour hot milk on them. I will let this video speak for itself (sound on):


11. Gift certificate to a sustainable brand

Because style is so personal, if you want to get clothing, I personally would let the person choose their gift themselves. Gaia & Dubos, Ramonalisa, Azura Bay are all sustainable Canadian brands that offer gift cards. Check out my sustainable brand directory for more ideas.

And finally, please avoid getting things from places like Ardène, H&M, Zara and Amazon as much as you can. These places are unsustainable and unethical and there are lots of small, sustainable businesses that really need your dollar votes right now.

As for the wrapping, one eco idea is to use newspaper and secure it with hemp string or plastic-free, biodegradable tape (I’ve seen this done and it looks great). I’ll be doing a separate guide on eco-friendly gift-wrapping very soon, so subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss it!



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