Person holding a Stasher bag

Green gift ideas for your eco-friendly friend

What better than giving a gift? Giving a gift that’s low-impact, responsibly sourced, organically grown or gives back to the environment.

To figure out what your eco-friends would be delighted to receive, we checked with the sustainability experts at MEC and our friends at Ocean Wise (we’re big supporters of their #beplasticwise pledge and also helped fund their research into microplastics).

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

1. Reusable straws

Reusable straws available at MEC

Durable and made to stick around for way longer than a single smoothie. Pick out a full pack of reusable straws for your sustainable buddy – engraved copper, colourful silicone, or a stainless steel/silicone combo – or get creative and garnish everyone’s stocking with a single straw.

“When straws are a must, go reusable or go home. Single-use plastic straws litter our shorelines, harm seabirds and animals, and only break down over time into microplastics.” – Alexis, Vancouver Aquarium Sustainability Manager

2. A sturdy growler

Glass growlers are handy but they don’t make great options for camping. For reusable containers, go with something tough like a stainless steel growler. This Stanley Go Growler keeps beer cold for up to 24 hours. Feeling extra generous? Fill it up with a locally-sourced bevy.

3. An organic cotton tee

Organically grown cotton requires less energy and water than conventional cotton crops. Find a fun organically grown cotton t-shirt that speaks to their style from brands like Patagonia, United by Blue or MEC and watch as your present becomes part of their regular t-shirt rotation.

4. A coffee mug that cuts out waste

Insulated to keep their coffee or tea piping hot, over and over and over again. This new Stanley Ceramicvac Tumbler has a thin layer or ceramic inside, so they won’t get any stainless steel taste with their latte.

“Who could go wrong giving a rugged reusable coffee mug? These aren’t just for camping trips, but help the daily user avoid contributing to the millions of disposable coffee cups thrown out in Canada every year.” – Alexis, Vancouver Aquarium Sustainability Manager

5. 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.

6. Vegan jerky

Noble Jerky comes in 3 flavours: teriyaki, chipotle and sweet BBQ.

Have a friend who makes an impact by cutting down on meat consumption? Treat them with some tasty Noble Jerky – it’s plant-based, saucy and made in Canada.

7. Bluesign-approved booties

Hut booties are always a hit with anyone lucky enough to receive them. But did you know they’re bluesign-approved too? That means the fabric used to make them was created with the highest environmental standards for textiles. Plus the insulation is 50% recycled content… and 100% cozy.

8. An outdoor experience

3 friends sitting in the forest taking a break from hiking

Give the gift of good times outside. Plan an active outdoor day together – maybe it’s a forest walk, a bike ride or finding 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.

9. A copper tumbler that’ll last a lifetime

Give them a hand-welded United by Blue copper tumbler with trees, tents or cabins engraved on the side. Classy, more durable than glass, and just the thing for Moscow Mules. Plus for every one sold, United by Blue pulls 1lb. of trash out of the ocean.

10. A reusable snack pack

“Whether it’s filled with granola, chocolate or my son’s favourite snack,” says Alexis from the Vancouver Aquarium, “The easy-to-wash silicone Stasher bags allow us to avoid the nasty problem of plastic baggies escaping, travelling from streets into storm drains and into our waterways.”

Person holding a stasher snack bag and tossing grapes

11. Fair Trade Certified chocolate

Fair Trade Certified chocolate bars

Any gift that involves delicious chocolate is a winner. Fair Trade Certified chocolate from Cocoa Camino or Zazubean means you can feel good about where the ingredients came from and the farmers you’re supporting.

12. MEC Waste-less Tote Bag

A reusable tote that’s extra sustainable: it’s made from salvaged fabric left over from making MEC backpacks. Choose from a tidy 20L tote bag size (perfect for farmers’ market hauls) or pick them up the 45L tote bag size for hefty loads of camping gear.

“Canadians take home an estimated 2.86 billion plastic bags annually. Some wind up in the ocean, where sea turtles mistake them for their main food source, jellyfish. This year, do a turtle a solid – give friends a sturdy bag to handle whatever their shopping doles out.” – Alexis, Vancouver Aquarium Sustainability Manager

13. A shirt that plants trees

Shirts with forest themed patterns on them

Nature-inspired shirts from tentree to feel good about for two reasons. First, they’re soft and comfy. Second, for every product sold, tentree plants 10 trees.

14. Recycled socks

Fun socks are a slam dunk, and Defeet has lots of designs for anyone who loves bikes. The Aireator socks keep feet cool while cycling, include recycled polyester, and have patterns to match any rider’s personality.

15. A plogging date

Ever heard of plogging? It’s picking up litter on the go. While it definitely falls under the “unconventional gifts” category, a plogging date is about spending quality time outside and doing some good too – what’s a better gift than that? Plan an hour or two to go plogging together at your friend or partner’s favourite park or trail, then treat them to coffee after (with your own mugs, of course).

16. A sweet spork

3 different kinds of sporks

They likely want to say no to take-out utensils. Give them a hand by, well, giving them a spork. Keep it fun and colourful with a Light My Fire spork, go lightweight with a titanium spork, or choose the Kupilka natural fibre composite spork. From noodles to soup, they’ll be set to go.

17. Finishing a race together

Runners at an MEC race

Another idea for a gift that isn’t a thing? Sign 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. There are road and trail options for a friend wants to spend time in the forest.

Interested in learning more about #BePlasticWise? Sign up for the pledge to protect ocean life.

Missy Shana
Missy Shana

A social media specialist, Seinfeld-quoter who repeatedly travels vast distances for good food. Has probably creeped your Instagram profile.