I’m trying to find a gift for my mother for Christmas, and I like the idea of gifting toward climate action. Might you have recommendations?
Thank you for your time
Sure thing. Here’s a list of climate-friendly gift ideas for every budget.
A board game, puzzle, houseplant, or other item from your local “Buy Nothing” group (Price: Free)
Why it’s climate-friendly: Manufacturing stuff requires consumption of energy and natural resources, so it’s better for the climate to reuse products rather than buying new. The Buy Nothing Project, a gift-giving network created by two Washington state women in 2013, encourages neighbors to freely share goods and services with each other. The project’s “holiday challenge” encourages participants to give away (and request) used items that can be repurposed as gifts. To join, download the group’s free app or search for a group near you on Facebook.
Another option: A treasure from your local thrift store
A “voucher” promising to help the recipient take climate action (Price: Free)
Why it’s climate-friendly: With a voucher, you’re offering a gift of your own time. You might promise to draft letters to elected officials on the recipient’s behalf, teach the person about plant-based cooking, or help the recipient install weatherstripping. The voucher is tailored to the recipient’s interests and your skills, making it a one-of-a-kind gift.
Renewable energy credits (Price: $)
Why they’re climate-friendly: Roughly a quarter of U.S. carbon pollution comes from power plants that burn natural gas and coal to produce electricity. With renewable energy credits, you can present your loved ones with the gift of electricity produced from wind, solar, or other renewable sources. For about $5 a month, your friends or family members will receive the right to call themselves “100% powered by clean electricity.”
Caveat: As David Roberts explains in this Vox column, it’s not clear that renewable energy credits create incentives for additional renewable energy facilities to go online. Still, purchasing the credits helps demonstrate demand for clean electricity products.
Paperwhite narcissus kit (Price: $)
Why they’re climate-friendly: Your friends and family will feel connected to nature even during winter when they grow these fragrant indoor blooms. To build paperwhite narcissus kits, purchase low-cost bulbs from a hardware or garden store, thrifted vases or glass jars, and small pebbles. Recipients will place the bulbs on top of the pebbles inside the vases, add water, and then wait four to six weeks for flowers to emerge.
Climate Catastrophe Pack (Price: $)
Why it’s climate-friendly: This 30-card expansion to the popular “Cards Against Humanity” game is sure to get your friends talking about climate change. As I’ve explained, most people aren’t having enough conversations about the problem.
Bonus: The game’s maker offers a discount if you live in a region that’s on track for a pummelling by heat waves, hurricanes, droughts, downpours, or rising seas.
Compost pail (Price: $$)
Why it’s climate-friendly: The perfect gift for the person with a green thumb. Inside landfills, rotting food scraps release methane, a potent heat-trapping gas. But composting turns food waste into a rich fertilizer prized by gardeners.
A book about climate solutions (Price: $$)
Why it’s climate-friendly: The topic of climate change can make people feel sad, afraid, and outraged, and so it’s important to remember that many people are working to address the problem. Help those in your networks better understand the possible solutions with a selection from this list by Yale Climate Connections contributor Michael Svoboda.
Bonus recommendation: “The Nature of Oaks,” by Douglas W. Tallamy
A sweater, slippers, socks, or blanket (Price: $$)
Why it’s climate-friendly: Ensconced inside cozy fabric, your loved ones will stay warm even if they turn down the thermostat. Not only will they cut carbon pollution, they’ll save money on home heating costs, which are expected to skyrocket this winter.
A bicycle (Price: $$$)
Why it’s climate-friendly: Transportation is the biggest source of U.S. carbon pollution. Replacing gas-guzzling car trips with a ride on two wheels can help. If you can afford it, consider an electric bicycle for the cyclist in your life. Urban-dwelling owners of e-bikes tend to use them to replace car trips, according to recent research.
Readers, what other climate-friendly gifts should I add to this list? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
Bonus tip: To avoid creating mountains of wrapping paper waste, present your gifts in reusable paper or cloth gift bags — and then, like the women in this Saturday Night Live skit, make sure they get used year after year.
Jennifer Marlon contributed.
Got a question about climate change? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.