Person holding MEC Waste Less Tote bag

Green gift ideas for your eco-friendly friend

Gift giving can a get little tricky for those of us who are truly evergreen. If you have someone on your list who prefers conscious consumption, you’ll need to think carefully about your options.

In my experience, there are three key approaches that are a sure bet: a) focusing on green living; b) giving experiences (not things); or c) going all-in on one big sustainably minded gift. With each of these, you’ll need to keep sustainable sourcing and durability top of mind. The final step to nailing a green gift? Avoid needless gift wrap – we’ve also got a few clever alternatives to gift wrapping, too.

Here are some gifts for environmental lovers that you’ll feel extra good about giving:

Green living gifts

1. Beeswax wraps

Ideal for hiking or everyday use at home. Reusable Abeego Beeswax Wraps are made in Victoria, BC, and are great for storing locally-sourced leftovers. They’re self-adhesive and breathable, which helps keep food fresher longer to prevent food waste (compared to plastic wrap). Plus, they’re biodegradable and compostable, so they create no landfill waste at the end of their life.

Person with Abeego wraps

2. Solar lighting

One solar lantern, so many possibilities: card games at the campsite, porch dance party, candle-like mood lighting. Lightweight packable solar is the future.

3. Premium rechargeables

Gone are the days of reaching for your device, only to find the rechargeable batteries are dead. Panasonic Eneloops retain more than 70% of their capacity after 10 years and come pre-charged with solar energy.

4. Spork for life

I’m so attached that I plan to have mine engraved. Made of rugged titanium, it’s lightweight, simple and reliable for salad, pasta, chili or oatmeal. Good in the food court, great in the mountains. The spork of all sporks!

5. Gear renewal and repair

Gear cleaning and repair

The 3 Rs go in order: reduce, reuse, recycle. Why buy new when you can breathe new life into a favourite item? Give the gift of long-lasting waterproof jackets with cleaners and waterproofers. Know someone who has a rip in their trusty pack or tent? Check out repair kits for that too, and our advice on how to do common gear repairs.

6. Wash bag that prevents microfibre pollution

Microfibre pollution has a become a big topic in the environmental world. The Guppyfriend Washing Bag is a tool your eco-aware friend can use every laundry day. Not only does it help prevent microfibres from escaping into oceans and rivers, it also helps clothes last longer since there’s less fibre breakage.

7. Reef-safe sunscreen

Thinksport sunscreen uses a reef-safe formula that’s free from hormone disruptors, oxybenzone and titanium dioxide. Little known fact: reefs aren’t the only place for coral. Every ocean has corals (yes, even under the arctic ice). Protecting coral everywhere is good for our planet and for you, too.

8. Pure castile soap

What is this soap for? Everything. From the bathtub to the backcountry, Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap keeps people and dishes clean, and is a staple of any eco-conscious home. It’s also affordable, biodegradable, organic, not tested on animals, fair trade and vegan. Buy the bulk size in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle – the planet and your giftee will thank you.

Friendly reminder for using soap outdoors: Remember the Leave No Trace guidelines for all soapy water – even the biodegradable kind. Bury it in a cathole 70m from any water source.

9. Collapsible pocket cup

Portable? Leakproof? Simple to fill? Yes. The Stojo Collapsible Pocket Cup fits standard 355ml drinks and collapses down to a 2in. high disk. It’s free from BPAs, phthalates, leads or glues.

Person with collapsible Stojo cup

The Stojo cup collapses down to a small disk when you're not using it.

10. Fuel canister recycling tool

Ah, the pure joy that’s a 100% recyclable stainless-steel container. The only catch? You have to crunch-it out. This handy tool safely vents and punctures empty LPG fuel canisters so you can recycle them.

Experiences as gifts

11. Finish a race together

MEC race in the rain

An awesome idea for a gift that isn’t a thing? Signing up for a race together. The MEC Race Series has courses across Canada, the entry fees are a great deal, and there are lots of distances to choose from. Choose from road or trail options for a friend wants to spend time in the forest.

13. Plan an outdoor experience

Two people having fun snowshoeing

Plan an active outdoor day together – maybe it’s a snowshoe walk or picking a spot for your first summer camping trip. Need inspiration? Check out Parkbus or the MEC events site to see what’s happening near you, and look into gear rentals if you need any equipment.

14. Give a bike tune-up

Keep their commuter bike smooth and squeak-free. Give them an MEC gift card to treat them to a bike tune up on you.

One great green thing

15. A bag made of leftover material

A reusable tote bag (because you know they’ll like a reusable tote bag) with a twist: it’s made from salvaged fabric left over from making MEC backpacks. Super sturdy to hold library books or a heavy load from the farmer’s market.

Person with MEC Tote Bag

16. Bluesign-approved booties

MEC Hut Booties are always a hit with anyone lucky enough to receive them. But did you know they’re bluesign-approved too? This means the source fabric was created with the highest environmental standards for textile chemistry, which means it’s safe for workers, the planet and the end consumer. Plus, the insulation is 50% recycled content… and 100% cozy.

17. Shirts that clean up shoreline litter

United by Blue shirts

United By Blue removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways for every product sold. The organic cotton, recycled polyester and Corozo (tagua palm nut) buttons on these United by Blue flannel shirts have been carefully selected to minimize environmental impact.

18. Tees with smaller environmental footprints

MEC t-shirts

Walking lightly on the planet requires us to do more with less. These simple MEC T-shirts are comfy for travel, lounging at the cabin or on a trip to the park. They’re also a green triple-threat: organic cotton, certified Fair Trade and bluesign-approved® fabric.

19. A portable micro-campfire

The pleasure of a tiny fire that burns cleaner than open-air campfires. With the BioLite CampStove, your buddy can cook a full meal using renewable resources: medium sized twigs, pinecones, wood pellets and other biomass. I’ve personally tested this fine gadget and give it 5-out-of-5 stars for its marshmallow-roasting capabilities. Bonus: heat from the flames charges the internal battery to top up USB powered gadgets.

Plus, BioLite has a bigger mission to bring energy everywhere. In addition to gear for outdoor recreation, they also help people around in world access clean cooking and charging.

20. Vintage, thrifted, re-gifted

Classic Rad Pants shot showing 6 people wearing 6 different colours of Rad Pants

One person’s thrift store donation is another person’s incredible gifting opportunity. Yep, a 1990s teal fanny pack, vintage Patagonia fleece or original Rad Pants can be just the right gift for people who get the most enjoyment out of seeing secondhand items get a new life. Scope out the MEC Gear Swap for ideas.

A big thank you (and waste-free high-five) to MEC staffer Lawrence for showing off the MEC Waste-less Tote, Stojo Collapsible Cup and Abeego Beeswax wraps in our photos.

Gifts that keep on giving, guaranteed

Everything you buy from MEC is covered by our Rocksolid Guarantee (it’s kind of legendary). And if you see a better deal anywhere in Canada – we’ll price match it. Want to learn more about MEC’s sustainability efforts? See what we’re doing.

Wade Janzen
Wade Janzen

MEC sustainability buff and savvy egghead. When he’s not canoe tripping or making friends with toads, he’s daydreaming about low-carbon futures.