Running out of gift ideas? Whether it’s the holiday season, a birthday, or any special occasion, consider giving a gift that also supports a worthy environmental cause. These green gifts for good deliver double the enjoyment – for the recipient and for the environmental cause they support!
Table of Contents
- Do Your Homework Before Opening Your Wallet
- 9 Green Gifts for Good Ideas
Do Your Homework Before Opening Your Wallet
Before you start shopping, make sure your purchases are with a company or organization that actually delivers on its commitment to environmental protection and conservation. These online resources can assist you in making informed and responsible choices.
B Corporation Certification designates businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance.
Charity Navigator is the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. It lists and ranks over 9,000 charities. It also includes tips for donors and Top Ten Lists of the best charities in various categories.
The Federal Trade Commission‘s checklist for how to donate wisely and avoid scams is excellent and well worth a read before you make any type of charitable contribution.
GuideStar’s extensive database contains financial information and documentation on millions of non-profit organizations to help you determine the financial health of an organization.
IRS Tax Exempt Organization search function helps users find information about a tax-exempt organization’s federal tax status to determine whether your donation will actually be tax-deductible.
9 Green Gifts for Good Ideas
Donations as Gifts
The simplest way to support a green cause is to give a donation in your gift recipient’s name. There are thousands of environmental organizations to support, so my list is merely a drop in the bucket.
Environmental Defense Fund is one of the country’s preeminent environmental advocacy groups, known for its work on issues including global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health. EDF uses sound science, economics and law to find environmental solutions that work. Learn more here about EDF’s membership.
Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. EWG’s fantastic 2020 holiday gift box contains a cookbook, reusable bags and bottles, a face mask, GROVE collaborative soap, and more. Donations fund EWG’s work on pesticides, tap water, cosmetics, and more.
Friends of the Earth is a non-governmental environmental organization dedicated to defending the environment and championing a just and healthy world through its various activist efforts. A donation gift entitles the recipient to a subscription to FOE for a year. This includes the right to vote in FOE’s annual election, newsletters, and the recognition that they are joining the fight to build a healthy and just world.
Most of us have heard of Greenpeace and its activist efforts to halt environmental destruction and promote solutions for future generations. What you may not know is that the organization relies solely on individual donations to its Greenpeace Fund. You can give a gift of membership or simply a straight donation.
The Nature Conservancy is one of the nation’s oldest environmental organizations dedicated to protecting and conserving millions of open spaces across the country. Depending on the amount you donate, a gift of membership includes the Nature Conservancy magazine, its annual calendar, e-news, and conservation updates.
Natural Resources Defense Council is the preeminent international environmental advocacy group. NRDC combines the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and advocates with the power of more than three million members and online activists to confront our planet’s most pressing problems. You can give a gift of membership either by e-card or the organization will mail a card to the recipient.
The Ocean Conservancy is a top-rated environmental advocacy group focused on ocean protection. You can give a gift of membership either by e-card or the organization will mail a card to the recipient.
Non-Profits With Amazing Gift Shops
These green charities have terrific online shops with extensive selections for everyone on your gifts for good list.
The Sierra Club’s store has it all: apparel, masks, homeware, outdoor gear, tree ornaments, toys. I particularly like their Sierra Club backpacks that are suitable for school or camping.
League of Conservation Voters’ gift guide will help you whittle down your gifting list. They sell conveniently (and cleverly!) arranged Holiday Bundles that are perfect for the “home activist,” “clean energy advocate,” or “public lands defender” in your life! Their environmental priorities button set (“reduce, reuse, recycle, resist!”) is a perfect stocking stuffer. Purchases help fund LCV’s mission to “advocate for sound environmental laws and policies, hold elected officials accountable for their votes and actions, and elect pro-environment candidates.”
National Wildlife Federation. Support their conservation work by shopping in their online store, which offers home, garden, and wildlife products. They also have a new line of adorable wildlife-themed face masks.
Surfrider Foundation‘s shop has gifts for the beach lover on your gift list: beach accessories (beach coolers, towels, tote bags), and surfboards; apparel and eyewear; drinkware; and even a collection of cool wave flags. 100% of the profits fund Surfrider’s mission to protect the oceans.
The Rainforest Trust, which receives a perfect score from Charity Navigator, has a Rainforest Trust Shop that sells products manufactured by its partners in conservation and sustainability. Choose from apparel, jewelry, edibles, health and beauty, and home goods.
Tree Hugger Gifts for Good
These organizations are focused on forest and open space protection.
The Rainforest Trust’s Gift of Acres helps support their mission of saving threatened habitats across the planet. Donate to your selected conservation project and the recipient receives a customized gift certificate.
Arbor Day Foundation‘s selection of gifts for good includes apparel, toys, coffee, and (of course) trees! You can choose from a large selection of trees, including fast-growing, flowering, fruit trees, and evergreens. Purchases and donations help support tree planting efforts around the globe.
Adopt a Wild Animal
No, you won’t be bringing home a live animal, but these organizations offer “adoption programs” that help fund the protection of an endangered animal. A perfect gift for an animal lover!
Audubon’s adoption center is, predictably, all about the birds! With each adoption, you’ll receive a lifelike plush bird, along with a certificate of adoption, a beautiful bird photo, and unlimited eCards to send to family and loved ones.
National Wildlife Federation. For every adoption kit donation, NWF will plant a native tree to help protect and restore the wild places that nurture wildlife. A certificate of appreciation will be included with every symbolic adoption kit.
Sierra Club‘s adoption kit comes in a regular or deluxe set. Each includes a plush animal, a booklet about your new “pet,” an adoption certificate, fun animal facts, a sticker sheet, and a map of American wildlife. The deluxe set includes a Sierra Club backpack.
World Wildlife Fund’s adoption kits are a terrific way to help protect an endangered species and receive an adorable stuffed animal as a gift.
Experience Gifts That Give Back
A great (low-waste) gift idea is an experience-themed gift to support a green cause, such as tickets to a green charity event, membership subscriptions to a local nature center, or classes given by an environmental organization.
Another idea, this one for the outdoor enthusiast, is a National Parks pass for access to national parks, forests, and other federal recreation sites. The gift supports public lands and waters by conserving efforts to preserve and enhance federal recreation sites.
Think Local With Your Gifts
Don’t forget to support your local environmental, conservation, and wildlife organizations that are on the frontlines of protecting your community’s natural resources.
You can make a straight donation in your loved one’s name, purchase a class or program for your gift recipient, or check if they’re selling products — birdseed, trees, or plants — to raise money.
Publications by Environmental Organizations
National Wildlife Federation publications include National Wildlife and the ever-popular Ranger Rick series.
Beyond Pesticides Organization, an advocacy organization committed to eliminating toxic pesticides, publishes a collection of in-depth and fact-based magazines, books, and DVDs that inform and engage. While you’re browsing, check out their organic cotton totes with adorable bee and dragonfly designs.
Shopping Platforms and Portals
AmazonSmile. Shop for gifts while donating to environmental causes through AmazonSmile. This program donates 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charity of your choice at no extra cost to you. Once you’ve selected your charity (an environmental one, preferably!), simply start shopping and the donation is made.
Shopping Gives. This is a recent discovery for me. It’s a fairly new e-commerce company (2015) with a community of retailers and nonprofits that give back to one another through their customers and supporters. The company, a certified B Corporation, hosts an online fundraising platform and technology that enables retailers to donate a percentage of each purchase to a nonprofit that the customer selects during checkout.
Uncommon Goods, a certified B Corporation that adheres to sustainable and ethical business practices, offers a wide selection of gift ideas: home goods, jewelry, clothing, and games, to name a few. The company’s Better to Give program donates $1 to a Better to Give partner of your choice, including American Forests. To date, Uncommon Goods has donated over $2 million.
Eco-Conscious Consumption: For-Profit Companies
For-profit companies are getting into the green gifts for good game. With every purchase, companies pledge to make a donation to a designated cause. While these types of charity-related purchases aren’t as impactful as a direct donation to the targeted environmental organization, they are an easy way to shop for the gift of your choice while simultaneously making a donation.
Beauty Counter, the natural skin care and personal product company, is the leading company advocating for more health-protective legislation across North America. Since 2013, Beauty Counter has worked with lawmakers to ensure the safety of product ingredients, defended consumer access to transparent labeling, and advocated for a future in which the beauty industry does not harm the planet.
Outdoors brand Cotopaxi, a certified B Corporation, donates 1% of its annual revenue to local organizations working on sustainable initiatives.
A gift from Parks Project helps fund a project in our national parks. Choose from a wide variety of gifts including, home goods, clothing, games, decor, and candles.
Patagonia, the leading outdoor apparel company, is also a leader in sustainability and environmental philanthropy. Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to environmental preservation causes, awarding over $89 million in donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups making a difference in their local communities.