The ethical & sustainable gift guide

The ethical & sustainable gift guide

Giving all-ethical gifts is an absolute dream. Sharing intentional, sustainable products that are made well and have meaning behind them is my goal for the holidays. Of course, it gets pricey to do it. So I’ll be sharing two gift guides with you this year! One gift guide profiling the best ethical gifts for everyone in your life, and the other dedicated to affordable ways to curate gifts for the holidays.

Part 1 is the ethical, sustainable gift guide! I’ve gathered together my favourite gifts to give to anyone for the holidays – from your sister, friend, mom, dad, partner or brother. There’s pretty much something for everyone. Well, except scarves and hats because mine arrived late, but stay tuned to see my recos for the best winter accessories!

Without further ado, let’s get into it! All the best ethical gifts of 2019.

Some links below are sponsored or contain affiliate links, but as always, all products were hand-picked by me for their giftability and how much I love them!

For your dearest friend (or you)

I’m the kind of person that shops for myself (and others) during the holidays. There are always promotions which make shopping more accessible, so I approach the holiday season with a meaningful list of brands I love and pieces I’ve had my eye on. These three items are super giftable and really lovely as gifts for your girlfriends or sister as well.

Okay, I don’t say this often – but this bra is the cutest and comfiest ever! You’d have to be pretty close to your sister-friend to know they’d want this, but if you are, it’s a beautiful gift that honestly, I’m sure we’d all want! (or, you can snag it for yourself – which is what I did). Made with organic cotton and coloured with vegetable dyes in California. Shop it here >
Wildcraft is a brand local to Toronto, and they craft cosmetic products from organic sources. This serum which features carrot oil is beautiful for any kind of skin – it’s refreshing and moisturizing without being too oily. A great alternative to moisturizer. Shop it here >

Public Goods is such a fun idea for a gift – you can purchase a membership which gives access to super accessibly priced everyday goods like this lotion. Their products have a lively citrusy scent to them, energizing the home naturally. Shop here >

For the ones who live for winter hibernation

These two gifts are something of a little miracle. This collection from ABLE celebrates strong women and helps fuel their objectives of fair wages for every women in their supply chain. They’re a reminder of the importance of self-care, and the value of the role models in your life, and are the coziest gifts on this list. They smell like a delicate and lovely cocoon.

What a beautiful and giftable jar! These bath salts smell earthy and delicate all at once, and it’s the perfect relaxing blend. Shop it here >
It doesn’t always happen that the best candles are also the prettiest to look at, but that’s the case with this one. I just want to keep this as a piece of art! Its scent is pretty but not overpowering – and I’m quite sensitive to smells! So that’s a win from me. Shop it here >

For the spa lover & self-care advocate

We all have one of those in our lives. Admittedly, sometimes it’s us! These gifts are for the one who needs nothing more than some cozy things to surround themselves in during the cold months. Candles, pyjamas, organic fabrics and blankets.

This is hands-down my favourite incense. Delicate, smoky, light, and best of all, totally natural. Made in California, this is a great non-toxic alternative to the norm. Shop here >
Okay, this is for the person who’s genuinely curious about living zero waste. (not for the faint of heart!) but a cool way to share the lifestyle with them and see if they’re into it! There are a ton of options for shampoo and conditioner bars – shop them here>
A more refined (and sustainable) take on the loofah. My mom, as a tradition, would always put a loofah in everyone’s stocking. I remember looking forward to it as the day we’d get a shiny new one! As an adult living a lower waste life, I’m leaning towards scrub brushes of natural materials now, and this is a gorgeous one! Shop it here >

These linen towels are the splurge of the splurge. They’re the highest quality, super absorbent and longer lasting than traditional towels. Shop them here >
Mmmm yes. This salt soak is a blend of Dead Sea and Himalayan, and has an energizing zest of Ylang Ylang and Neroli. A great gift for the person who’s got a thing for baths. Shop here >
An all-natural candle available in scents or no scent (which is so rare!), this is a cute and multi-purpose gift for the one who just wants to be cozy and warm all winter. Shop here >

For the ones with refined taste

You’ll notice there are no genders mentioned in this gift guide – because I don’t believe in separating gifts by gender. But what I did have a lot of fun creating was a set of gifts that have an elevated, darker look to them. Gifts centred around taste, scent, texture and quality. These gifts are for the person in your life who wants things that last. Who cares deeply about keeping the items in their lives for a long time.

Arvo is a sleek, minimalist watch brand that gives back with every sale. I’m a huge fan of their clean lines and diversity of style. Shop them here >

Local to Toronto, Britt crafts high quality leather goods for all people. Her belts stand out as a super giftable item, along with her slim, minimalist wallets. Shop the brand here >
This coffee grinder is not cheap, but it’s the highest quality I’ve seen. With ceramic components, it’s not the kind to break or dull on you. It’s perfect for the person who values the process of a well-brewed coffee. Shop it here >

Pair it with some coffee! This Fairtrade coffee also gives back, with a portion of proceeds funding financial training for women in Africa and Latin America. Shop it here >
For the curious. For the interested. For the intrigued. This Canadian gin has a subtle coppery taste and is made from Atlantic seaweed, stilled in copper barrels. A fascinating flavour, it’s so worth the journey to you. It’s certainly the most uncommon gift to give. Shop it here >
A safety razor isn’t just a zero-waste gift. It’s also just simply… cool. I mean, old fashioned, refined, lasting – who wouldn’t want that? Shop it here >

For the entertainer

For the host who enjoys a good dinner party, these gifts elevate the table thoughtfully. There’s nothing like local honey to add some flavour and warmth in the winter, and spoons that have the most gorgeous grain. If you know anyone who finds their fuel through cooking or baking, these gifts are for them.

My mom loves handcrafted wooden utensils and cutting boards. And she NEVER buys them for herself! So the top thing on my list for her are these spoons carved from olive wood. With the deepest colour and grain, they’re something she’d be proud to display. Shop them here >
Simple, minimal, practical. These natural linen towels are well made and will coordinate with any kitchen. Perfect for the entertainer! Shop them here >
Atelier Trema is a Quebec-based ceramics brand with an organic, substantial, minimal feel. This mortar & pestle is a gorgeous piece for the countertop, but you really can’t go wrong with any of their pieces, so give them a browse! Shop here >

For the zero waste curious

They could be seasoned or beginners – or just starting their career and looking for a refined on-the-go kit! These pieces are so perfect for anyone looking to have beautiful items to pull out for lunch.

How cute are these? Leak-proof, all-natural, the tote and lunch bag are just perfect for anyone who’s curious about a more sustainable lifestyle (or, for anyone else). Shop here >
I cannot express how much this Joco Cup changed my life. I haven’t used a single disposable cup since. The cup is designed especially with baristas in mind, with a shape optimal for the perfect latte pour – not to mention, the whole thing is microwavable. Oh, and it comes in a whole bunch of cute colours, and is available in standard sizes (12oz = a Starbucks Tall, 18oz – a Starbucks Grande). Basically, get this for everyone! Shop it here >
What a great (and cute!) lunch container – super light and easy to wash. It’s absolutely sealed against leaking, so if you know a low-waste enthusiast who is afraid to carry around glass, this is a great, safe option. Shop here >

For the second year in a row, the Tradlands bandana made it onto my gift guide list. I just love how easy it is to wrap up a gift with it, and have it as the gift itself as well! Paired with a lunch kit, it’s a cute zero waste napkin. Shop here >

For the one who says, “It’s okay, I don’t need anything.”

My general philosophy with those who say they don’t want anything is to…drum roll… listen to them! If someone truly doesn’t want anything, why not take them out for lunch, or treat them to a day out?

But what about that person who SAYS they don’t want anything, when really they kinda-sorta do still want to be part of the fun? That’s my mom. So for people like her, my rule is to gift something that can be used – and can make an everyday task so much more beautiful.

Lekko Life Goods is founded by Zuzanna out of Hamilton (my city!) – it’s a zero-waste living brand that aims to make living sustainably more accessible and enjoyable. She’s been working so hard on connecting with other local makers to craft this 3-piece soap kit. A metal food-grade travel case made in USA, a wooden resting dish crafted by Sonic Green in Kitchener-Waterloo, and positively dreamy Sage & Oat soap made in Guelph by Sage Soap Company. It’s at the perfect price point for that anyone-anywhere, tons of uses kind of gift. Shop it here >

The best in jewellery

Some of these pieces, I’ve had for years. Jewellery can be difficult to buy for people if you don’t know their style, but these pieces are perfectly minimal and can layer with any other items they own.

Local to Hamilton (my city), Catmamola creates wonderfully unique ceramic beaded necklaces that have flecks of gold. Her graphic designs are minimal but she has some great colourful pieces if you know someone who’s into vibrant pieces! Shop here >

Hailey Gerrits’s necklaces are one-of-a-kind, with stones sourced from North America – like this green rutilated quartz. She crafts each one herself in Vancouver. Shop here >
Hailey’s one of my favourite jewellery designers. She crafts her pieces from vintage chains & findings, as well as North American semiprecious stones. Shop them here >

Emily crafts simplistic, minimal, lightweight pieces that pair with anything the person you’re gifting to will own. I love the foolproof nature of her pieces. Shop them here >
Emily’s newest collection pushes the minimalist boundaries in the best way. Know someone who’s style-forward and is always wearing the most unique pieces? These are the earrings for them. Made with gold fill and sterling silver (I chose a mixed-metal finish for versatility), these are even good for sensitive ears. Shop them here >
Heather of Knots and Pipes creates tassel earrings from materials sourced from closing textile factories across Ontario, repurposing what was destined for the landfill, into beautiful statements. Shop her earrings here >
I’ve been a long-time customer of Stray Stones, run by Jenny out of Ontario, Canada. Her designs are nature-inspired and cut by hand, making each one unique. Shop here >

The best in winter accessories

I’ve always found it hard to find versatile, high-quality winter accessories that looked good but actually keep me warm. This winter, I’ve finally hit the gold mine. The three makers I profile below have beautifully crafted pieces that are simple but practical and make absolutely beautiful gifts. Best bit? Honestly, you can gift them to anyone. Your nephew, your sister, your parents or whatever – if you live in a cold climate, who wouldn’t want easy, warm, high-quality pieces that could go with anything in their wardrobe?

I adore Mimi & August. A Montreal, QC brand, not only am I able to support Canadian makers when I buy from them, but they’re just straight up hilarious. I love their attitude, addiction to coffee and relentless advocacy for zero waste and body diversity in the industry. Their toques (or, for Americans, beanies) are knit in the USA for Mimi & August, and they’re super soft! I’ve already worn mine with every coat I own, shovelling snow off the driveway in the bitter cold. They’re an A+ for me, for anyone you’re stumped on what to buy for. Shop them here >
Oh, I can’t say enough! What a special gift for someone you know that has an adventurous, free-spirited or stylish streak. These hats are so well-crafted, and they plant a tree with every purchase! They’re certainly a pricey gift, but so worth it if it’s for someone special. It’s an instant style ingredient to minimal outfits, with little effort. Shop them here >
I discovered Tartan Blanket Co. because they commented on one of my instagram posts. Yup, true. Their comment was super enthusiastic, and I thought, “that’s a bit weird.” But when I tapped on their profile, I fell instantly in love with their earthy, minimalist scarves. Better yet, they’re a Scottish company committed to quality, tradition and conscious production. They’re even based out of the city my Grandpa was born in! I bought myself their Oversized and Blanket scarves, and have been wearing them daily since. Perfect for anyone, cozy for everyone. And beautifully packaged, so you don’t even need to go to a lot of effort to wrap them! Oh, and did I mention they also offer recycled wool options?? Shop them here >

The best in candles

I call this the foolproof winter gift. Who doesn’t want a bit of cozy in their home during the snowy season? A warm little twinkle, candles are the best of the best. I know people who love scents, and people who despise them. So I’ve rounded up options that are woodsy, floral, musky and absolutely scent-free so you can gift whatever they’ll love best.

A Nashville brand, Paddywax is proudly made in the USA and their Tobacco & Patchouli candle is the most beautifully earthy scent for the wild and free. Shop it here >
Poured in Toronto, the founders of Lohn create candles inspired by their home countries of Poland and Lithuania, with botanical-based fragrances, organic wax & wicks. Shop it here >
I’m always looking for a cute unscented candle. If you’re unsure how your gift recipient feels about scents, this is a wonderful option with a use after the candle’s burnt out! The mason jar is perfect for bulk food shopping, drinking glasses, or storing odds and ends. Shop it here >
This soy candle smells of delicate flowers and the minimal design is perfect for the person who loves clean lines. Every candle gives back to food share programs. Shop it here >

So those are my favourite gifts of 2019! I hope it helps you find something meaningful for the ones you love. I find so much joy in gifting. Lately I’ve been leaning towards getting people one or two special items instead of a whole assortment—and that’s helped me stay on-budget while curating something special. Telling a story in the card, or sharing with them why you’ve gifted the items you have, can really drive the impact of your choices home and make them feel that the gift is something more than just a quick grab from the store.

Hope you all have a happy holidays! Feel free to ask me any gifting questions in the comments section below.

Oh! And stay tuned for Black Friday updates in the week of November 25th, because I’ll be sharing all the best ethical brands to shop from during that time 😉



6 thoughts on “The ethical & sustainable gift guide”

  • I agree with Sara that the Paddywax Tobacco & Patchouli candle smells heavenly. I don’t like the smell of tobacco OR patchouli on their own, but somehow this candle works!

    • omg yes!! The combo is so good, and not as overpowering as I thought it would be. I’m sensitive to scents and this one is an absolute treasure <3

  • Hey! I love the Joco cups and was thinking of purchasing one but couldn’t find any information about how it’s manufactured or if the artisans are paid fairly. I sent them a message too and am just waiting to hear back! My fingers are crossed because the cups are very nice and practical. Thanks so much 🙂

  • Loved the selection and the fact that it wasn’t gender. Definitely a great resource to make informed purchases through the holiday season and beyond. Thanks for sharing.

    • <3 Thank you so much. It was really important to me to not make this gendered. Gifts should be for everyone, regardless of how they identify.

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