Creative Arts

17 Ethical, Sustainable and Unique Gift Ideas for Holiday, 2016

Happy Holidays friends and fans! We’ve found some wonderful things over the past year that we’ve been stockpiling with the holidays in mind. Here’s our picks for some great gifts this year!


H E A L T H   &   W E L L N E S S

We love Dopper water bottles—so much so that we featured them at our Circular Design panel discussion last month! Our guests love them and there’s good reason why: Their ingenious design means they can be used several different ways! (I like to use mine as a water bottle, but also to fill with kombucha or wine to take on a picnic—the top of the bottle can be used as a cup. Shown above are the new Dopper Stainless Steel versions.



Bungy Pump Swedish walking/hiking sticks aren’t just static poles that help you navigate over rough terrain—though they do that too if you choose that setting. But when their resistance is adjusted, their bounce provides a serious upper body workout as you walk or hike. I’ve taken them out on the trails several times, and they provide a real workout boost, working my upper arm muscles and core. How much extra work you do with them depends on how you set them. They’re made in Sweden from high-quality materials and would make a great healthy gift for someone who already likes to hike or someone who wants to amp up their fitness routine in 2017.

I wrote about how much I love my new all-natural latex mattress—but if you aren’t ready to go all-in on a mattress, try out a set of pillows first, like these from Sleep on Latex. The pinhole design and open cell structure of the foam allow air to flow through the pillow, keeping the you cool. Because of the elastic nature of latex foam, you’ll never have to fluff this pillow to make it comfortable.


C O Z Y   H O M E

Spratters & Jayne makes the most gorgeous knitwear you’ve ever seen, but of particular note is their Loop Handspun Collab, which is in partnership with Steph Gorin:

Exclusive to this collection, these incredible yarns are made by hand by Steph in her studio in a beautiful pre-Civil War textile mill in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley. Her work embraces the history of the mill, reflecting her fascination with traditional ‘women’s work’ as seen through a lens of time.

Steph uses color like no one else, blending unexpected combinations into magnificent, endless permutations. Created from sustainably sourced merino wool, silk and bamboo, Loop yarns are made with an ultra low carbon footprint.



Not all terrariums are created equal. That’s why we love Vermont based Simon Pearce’s beautiful selection of hand blown glass terrariums in three different sizes. Along with your bold and beautiful Simon Pearce terrarium, pick up a book on creating terrariums along with the succulents and supplies for your loved one to create his/her own. Simon Pearce is known for its American handcrafted glassware, homeware and ceramics, so you can make a real one-of-a-kind gift statement purchasing anything on their site, such as ornaments, platters, or decanters. Proceeds from the company’s Love Your Brain collection of candleholders goes toward founder Simon’s son Kevin’s nonprofit, founded to promote a mindful approach to brain injury prevention and recovery.


Punjammies are loungepants made with hope by women in India who have escaped human trafficking. Whenever you purchase Punjammies, you invest in the freedom and dignity of these women and girls who are working to forge a new life for themselves and their children. I bought a pair of the Leela pants this summer and I’ve worn them all over the place (even out and about for errands with nice flats and a t-shirt and scarf!). They are cozy in bed as well.

Being kidless, I’m clueless year after year about what to get the kids in my life. That all changed when I discovered Beru Kids earlier this year. Produced entirely in downtown Los Angeles, Beru repurposes deadstock materials from big name brands (that would otherwise be thrown away) into original styles for kids. The close connection to its sustainable supply chain and partner factories really enables founder, Sofia Melograno  and designer, Kim, to get creative—dying fabrics different colors, or graphically designing patterns that are printed directly on the materials. “Purchasing garments that are made ethically and that have a traceable supply chain ultimately supports the greater mission of changing the low standards that exist in the fashion industry,” said Sofia. “You’re helping move away from the status quo that is cheap production, excess waste, and often times child labor.”



MATTER is socially motivated clothing company dedicated to transparency. Our managing editor Lindsay loves their apparel as each design is colorful, gorgeous and ethical. The company fosters designer-artisan collaborations, and makes the most beautiful scarves that are hand blockprinted in Jaipur, Rajasthan with fourth generation artisans. Shop MATTER’S 12 Days of Christmas on Instagram. (Love these pants in particular!)


 S U B S C R I P T I O N   B O X E S    &  G I F T S
Holstee sends brilliant art every month in the form of graphics along a theme—and it comes in a smart mailer, so you can keep each month’s message—or send it along. Letterpress printed in Los Angeles on archival paper, the art is beautiful enough to be framed. Holstee also sends along a little exercise/suggestion that jives with the theme of the month so you can focus your intentions (or help a friend do so with a gift.)


The Prettify Box comes every other month packed with handmade, ethically made hair accessories—what a wonderful gift for the person in your life who is always looking for fun things to do with their hair! In my trial box, I received a beautiful comb with handmade flowers (above), a rhinestoned hair elastic, a lace-and-silk headband, and extra bobby pins. (There are kids’ boxes as well as ones geared to grown-ups! )


VellaBox is for the candle-lover in your life. The subscription is super-flexible, with 3- 6- and 12-month subscriptions, and various box sizes to choose from (including small and large candle choices). All the candles are hand-poured and made from ethical ingredients.


Goodbeing Healthy Beauty and Wellness Box is a wonderful way to introduce a friend or loved one to clean, nontoxic beauty, a month at a time. Boxes are customized, so once you give the gift, your giftee would go into the site and choose what types of products they like and would use. So you don’t have to worry that you are getting them the right thing!


Buddhibox Yoga Lifestyle Box is a monthly box focused around meditation and yoga. There are always generous sizes and a wide variety of items, including jewelry, textiles, perfumes, yoga refresh sprays, snacks and more. And each month a different charity benefits. There are also special edition boxes you can choose from.


C O F F E E   T A B L E   B O O K S
Patagonia’s The Aloha Shirt book is the fun, random, but ultimately fascinating coffee table book you didn’t realize you needed; it’s the ideal gift for that person who is a world-traveler and might be tough to get something for.
Beautifully illustrated with hundreds of images, this book recounts the colorful stories behind these marvelous shirts: as cultural icons, evocative of the mystery and the allure of the islands, capturing the vibe of the watermen culture and lifestyle — casual, relaxed, and fun. Valued by professional collectors and by millions of vacationers and servicemen, these shirts are enjoying a fashion revival.


Plant: Exploring the Botanical World is THE table top book to get the plant lover in your life this season. Plant is geared at articulating questions that humans have grappled with since what feels like the beginning of time: What is the history of our human fascination with plants, and why is that relationship so compelling? This Fall, Eco-Chick helped celebrate Plant‘s release with publisher Phaidon Press at a beautiful Botany Salon put on by our friends at Garden Collage.


TreeGirl: Intimate Encounters with Wild Nature is the perfect book for anyone who loves and appreciates portraiture, nature, trees, and women. In a globe-trotting exploration of ancient and unusual trees, photographer and self-styled TreeGirl Julianne Skai Arbor takes us to meet special and unique examples of trees in 13 countries—and includes lots of information about the type of tree alongside the nude or semi-nude models that accompany them. It’s a gorgeous, informative combination.


Weaving fine art photography, natural history, nature connection, conservation, and the ecopsychology of the human-tree relationship, this book is an invitation to heal from the madness of modern civilization and rewild ourselves by cultivating our own intimate relationship with nature. Each tree species, includes one to four photographs, the tree’s natural history, ethnobotany and conservation status, and a narrative caption of TreeGirl’s encounter with the tree.


Grace Bonney is the founder of the awesome blog Design Sponge, and in her new book, In the Company of Women she interviews and photographs some of the most interesting makers, artists and entrepreneurs out there. Included are celebrities, the Internet-famous and niche idols, as well as all kinds of regular women running amazing businesses. It’s a super-inspiring read, and the variety of women shows how we are all making an impact.


Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.