Sustainable Gift Ideas
Going vegan in 2015 was my first big step toward living a more environmentally conscious life. In the years since, I’ve made an effort to reduce waste whenever possible. Here are a few products that have helped me get excited about living sustainably.
Reusable Coffee Mug
If you follow me on YouTube, you’ll know that coffee is one of my great loves. Not only do I brew it at home, but I love working on my laptop at local cafes and visiting new coffee shops while traveling. I bring a travel mug with me to cut down on my consumption of plastic and paper cups (not all of which are recyclable). An added bonus: some coffee shops offer a small discount when you bring your own mug! And many stainless steel varieties are insulated, so your beverage will stay nice and hot. Here are a few of my recommendations:
Reusable Water Bottle
Ditch disposable plastic water bottles for a reusable bottle! This is an easy swap that will pay for itself over time. I recommend a stainless steel or glass bottle (rather than a reusable plastic one) as these materials are easy to clean and don’t absorb flavors. I’ve also found that owning a designated bottle solely for water has encouraged me to stay hydrated throughout the day — I’m more likely to bring it with me to the gym or to run errands.
Glass or Metal Straws
Countless plastic straws end up in our oceans everyday. They do not biodegrade, and they can poison and injure ocean wildlife. The swap to glass, metal, or bamboo straws is easy and inexpensive! I leave a clean metal straw in my car at all times in case I stop for an iced coffee while running errands. You can bring one to a restaurant, too, if you prefer to drink your iced tea or soft drink through a straw. I enjoy using glass straws at home when drinking thicker beverages like protein shakes or smoothies.
Reusable Produce Bags
Fabric produce bags are a great way to cut down on plastic usage while shopping. I use these for produce and some bulk bin items like beans or nuts. I’ve tried a few kinds and prefer the thinner mesh bags because A) they’re see-through, so the cashier can easily identify what’s in each bag, and B) they’re lightweight, so they don’t drastically affect the weight of items charged per-pound. However, if you prefer the sturdier muslin or cotton bags, most come labeled with a tare weight.
Reusable Coffee Filter
Currently I use compostable coffee filters, but a reusable mesh filter has been recommended to me time and time again! I will likely be investing in one soon, since I use one or two filters every almost everyday. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on your brewing method. There are also stainless steel pour over filters, or you can always brew your coffee in a French press to avoid using filters altogether!
Glass/Steel Food Storage Containers
Maybe this makes me weird, but food storage solutions oddly excite me. Growing up, I always saved and repurposed old takeout containers, yogurt tubs, etc. The result was a very messy drawer of assorted tupperware and miscellaneous containers with lids that didn’t match. The old plastic would warp in the microwave and get stained by tomato sauce or curries.
Nowadays, I revel in my nice collection of glass food storage. Glass pieces are dishwasher-safe, don’t warp, and don’t absorb flavors/colors from food. They make it so much easier and appealing to store leftovers or my meal prepped dishes throughout the week. Because they come with lids, you won’t need to use plastic wrap or foil every time you refrigerate leftovers. They’re also stackable, so it’s easy to organize and keep track of what’s in your fridge.
If you take your lunch to work or school, a stainless steel tiffin or bento box is also great to have! They’re ultra-sturdy, easy to clean, and the lid snaps into place to avoid spills.
Reusable Baking Equipment
I can’t speak highly enough of silicone baking mats and muffin cups! They’re great for two main reasons: first, you’ll save money in the long run because they’re ultra-durable, so you won’t have to purchase parchment or wax paper ever again. Second, they make cleanup a breeze — anything you’d usually have to scrub off your metal baking pan will slide effortlessly off of silicone. They may take on a bit of color after many months of use, but this doesn’t reduce their effectiveness. These are a serious game changer!
These are becoming more and more popular in recent years, and for good reason. When I purchased my first menstrual cup (the Diva Cup) in college, it changed my life — and this is no overstatement! Once I overcame the slight learning curve, I could not imagine going back to disposable pads and tampons. A menstrual cup allows me the freedom to stay active on my period without worrying about inconvenient leaks at the gym, underwater, on a hike, etc. It’s also saved countless pairs of underwear from stains (especially while I sleep). My personal experience is with the Diva Cup, but there are a few different options on the market these days.