25 gifts to encourage sustainable living | the ReFab Diaries

I've never done this before because, for over a decade, this has been an ANTI-shopping blog. However, sustainable living has come a long way and sometimes the right gift is all it takes to shift a habit. So here's a list of gifts comprised mostly of things I actually love and use myself.  



Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.


I don't own everything on this list. But I own a LOT of these items, so when I say I love them, I mean it. 

Let's start with wrapping paper... because if you have to use it, be thoughtful about what you buy in the first place. Avoid paper with sparkles, glue and plastic coating. It's not actually recyclable; I learned that the hard way.


If you know someone who needs a place to start (and/or needs to be inspired) then Bea Johnson's book is the zero-waste bible. I no longer own a copy but her family's lifestyle really is something to aspire to.

Things for the kitchen

I'm going to start with the big one. The Lomi counter-top composter is an investment but I can tell you right now, it's a magical thing. I backed the Kickstarter for this product and I've had mine for almost a year. What makes it so amazing? I live in an apartment with a tiny kitchen. This composter not only takes up very little space - it literally turns your organic waste into dirt. Not some gross in-between thing. Clean, dry, dirt. See my images below. I turn it on when I go to bed and wake up in the morning to a bucket of dirt that I throw under the bushes in my building's courtyard garden. Lucky bushes.




I'm not going to give you a long list of the many things you can compost - the folks that make Lomi will give you that. But it's long; and it means I never again have to throw out paper towel, coffee filters, stale bread, etc. It ALSO means that I can now purchase (if I want to) compostable dryer sheets, compostable ziploc bags... you name it. It's amazing what's out there that you can and should compost. This machine has been a zero-waste game changer for me.

A gentle, pretty stocking-stuffer idea... pretty cloths that replace paper towels

I long-ago switched to using cloth napkins. I think this is as low as low-hanging fruit can get. They're lovely to use and, unless you eat many meals of beets and blueberries, actually very easy to keep stain-free. 

Food huggers are crazy versatile! Not only do they keep cut things like half cucumbers and lemons fresh; they are also great temporary lids for glasses and glass bottles. I still use ziploc bags for some things, but owning these has helped me cut way back on single-use plastic.  




Going on my want list - cheese huggers



Do you know someone who loves to roast veggies? Do they go through yards of foil doing it? Then a silicone baking mat will make a great gift. And it washes up easily.

Reusable K-cups; for coffee lovers, this is a big one. While they're convenient, disposable k-cups produce so much waste. Reusables work just as well, and because you're the one filling them up, you can fill them with whatever coffee you'd like, even coffee you wouldn't normally be able to get in a k-cup.


Maybe quart bags and dryer sheets are odd gifts, but sometimes it's just about helping people see what already exists... and that making a switch doesn't have to be extreme? More here.


I love these chopping boards that are made of NOT plastic. They look, feel, and clean like plastic but they're made of wheat straw.

We all know that growing our own food is not only better for us, but better for the planet. However, if you live like I do (small apartment with no outdoor space at all) then how? Hydroponics. My Aerogarden was a holiday gift and I was skeptical. But I successfully grew my own lettuce all summer and just started a new garden of herbs because I love thyme, rosemary etc in soups and stews over the winter. This guys sits right next to Lomi in my kitchen. One caveat: not every seed pod grows successfully every time. Thankfully, Aerogarden has a hassle-free system for replacing the duds, no questions asked.

Office / school supplies




My kid has graduated to mechanical pencils and wants new ones for Christmas. I was happy to find these, made entirely from post-consumer, upcycled plastic.




I wish she WAS still interested in regular pencils because how sweet are these? You can plant them once you've used them down to the nub. 





Another gift, my rechargeable lighter is one of my favorite things and I've bought them for friends. Disposable plastic lighters are obviously dreadful. But I can't pretend I don't love matches... probably because I grew up with them and loved lighting camp fires. But they're single-use things so it's great to have an alternative.



Oh man - this Rocket Book rocks my world. The paper isn't paper - it's like a whiteboard. You have to use the right pens, and then you can wipe the page clean when you're done! And if you're techy, each page has a QR code on it so you can upload your notes before you wipe the page clean. I haven't bought notebooks in years thanks to this thing.


Personal care / bathroom supplies



I don't own these, but I like seeing big brands investing in lines of sustainably made items. And my long-haired child will love these. 



I do own these and again, game changer. I use them to apply toner and take off makeup. The only thing I still use disposable cotton rounds for is removing nail polish.




This turkish towel is on my wishlist for swimming. Much lighter than a regular towel, it's made from organic cotton and organic dye.

After years of supporting Preserve, I think it's time to graduate to a razor that's not only plastic-free, but also has recyclable blades. And I'm including it on this list because it would make a really beautiful gift.


Doesn't everyone need this cute compostable floss stuffed into their stocking this holiday?

Or some biodegradable, bamboo bandages?



When it comes to soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, there are many beautiful ways to move from bottles to bars. I've not yet found a bar product I like for my hair, but I switched back to bar soaps a long time ago. I love that this is a try-and-see kit.  




I hope that most people (especially women) have switched to clean deodorants by now. Next step - make it zero waste by buying into a refillable system. Also, cute gift!




Now this... this is new to me but I want it. Omg - leaving product in the bottom of bottles just doesn't happen in my world so I end up jerryrigging ways to keep them upside down until I can get every last drop out (think large bottles of lotions that come with a pump). This gadget takes care of that!


And I'll leave it there. Wishing you all a holiday season brimming over with good things and devoid of waste!




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