gift guide: gifts to shift habits.

December 12, 2016

gifts_to_shift_habitsIt’s no secret that I get excited about the fresh start of a New Year and so it won’t come as a surprise that I like to think of the holiday season as a moment when we might offer friends and family—or ourselves—a little something to help nudge us in the direction of making a shift in habits, embracing a more sustainable way of tackling a task, or pledging to eschew a disposable option for a reusable one when clock strikes 12:00 on December 31. These aren’t things that might save the planet, but they’re steps in the right direction. Some of the gifts on this list are modest enough to be considered stocking stuffers, while others are extra special versions of everyday fixes. 

Cloth napkins: Offer a set of linen napkins in a convenient size, and help breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at home or on the go, be as waste-free as possible.

Sewing Kit: Give a gentle nudge to say that maybe that tiny tear in the pocket of someone’s jeans can be mended.

Grocery bags: Present a modest collection for toting to the bulk section. (Because filling up glass jars with dried goods doesn’t just look pretty, it makes a huge dent in your weekly recycling load, too.)

Reusable Hemp Coffee Filter: Help a friend say goodbye to disposable filters and improve their morning routine in one go.

Wool Dryer Balls: Suggest an easy way for everyone you love to quit their addiction to laundry-ruining liquid fabric softener forever with a set of woolen dryer balls.

Activated Charcoal Toner: Encourage a little natural beauty regimen, and, okay, yes, have a little chuckle because you just put coal in someone’s stocking.

Refillable Hand Soap: Fight flu season and encourage conscious consumption with a refillable bottle of hand soap.

Natural Linen Utensil Roll: Upgrade someone’s bring-your-own-blank game with a little rollable pocket for tucking reusable utensils.

Set of Covered Bowls: Give a set of these to your favorite salad-maker so they can forgo the plastic wrap the next time you invite them to a potluck. 

Cardamom Vanilla All-Purpose Butter: Offer limitless massages and a pot of all-natural body butter and endear yourself to me someone forever.

Big Block French Soap: Suggest a friend keep a block of this super long-lasting soap right on the countertop. It’s a modern take on Savon de Marseille, made from olive oil, coconut oil, and kaolin clay.

Insulated Stainless Steel Growler: Give an excuse for someone to head to their local brewery to fill up on fresh beer (over and over again).

A Copy of Simple Matters: Because maybe, just maybe, someone wants to do a little more reading on the subject of simple matters. (And because yours truly would be really thrilled to know there were a few copies of this ol’ thing under trees this December.)

Still looking? Here are few ideas for Gifts that Give Back and a primer on Charitable Giving.

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  • Reply Erin December 12, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Love 99% of this stuff. Want some of it, too! I am sincerely confused about the insinuation that some people get new jeans when they get a hole in the pocket? Is that for real? People do that? That seems crazy to me (not to mention EXPENSIVE!).

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 12, 2016 at 9:21 am

      Oh, gosh. Just an example to encourage a bit of mending.

    • Reply Sarah December 12, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      I come from a well-meaning but wasteful family and I can assure you that yes, people do that.

  • Reply Emily- Kathryn December 12, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Just wanted to share that because of your notes here, my husband and I have decided that for our new year’s resolution we’re going to attempt to produce 1/4 of the trash and recyclables we’ve been averaging. We’ve bought ourselves a composter and have found a few grocery stores nearby that offer bulk products.
    Thanks for the encouraging words and the idea that we can eventually produce minimal amounts of trash and recyclables by adjusting our day to day habits!

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 12, 2016 at 9:54 am

      So glad to hear that!

  • Reply Liv December 12, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Best gift guide ever- thanks!

  • Reply LL December 12, 2016 at 10:32 am

    These are all great ideas! I am probably going to get something consumable for my parents (they are more tuned in to low waste than I am) and already bought warm wool socks for my sibling. They’ve asked me what I want for my birthday/Christmas, and the big block of soap is very appealing.

  • Reply Gigi December 12, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Ooh, thanks for the list! The charcoal cleanser looks interesting! Too bad the product is out of stock right now… I guess everyone is thinking along the same lines, heh.

  • Reply Anna December 12, 2016 at 10:56 am

    I love this! I just bought my mom these food pretty linen food covers from etsy:

    Gentle encouragement!

  • Reply Lou December 12, 2016 at 10:56 am

    I love all your suggestions (and I have your book and regularly dip in and out of it). The big dilemma I have is that being UK-based, I really struggle to find equivalents at home… it just makes me want to jump on a plane and fill up a suitcase to take back! I feel like I am missing out 🙁

  • Reply muenzeeins December 12, 2016 at 11:34 am

    what a great list! love the idea of the linen napkins (they’ll definitely go up on my sewing list) and the grocery bags are already waiting to be assembled on my sewing table 🙂 but good to know that you can purchase beautiful ones

  • Reply Audrey December 12, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Love this gift guide…especially those covered ceramic bowls!!! So beautiful and made just down the road from where I live!!

    Also…since you shared bulk bin bags, I wanted to mention a company that I purchased from on etsy that I have been extremely happy with! She makes reusable bulk bin bags out of 100% silk or ones made out of nylon that can be used for spices and flours. All of the bags weigh the same as plastic bags and can be closed with the little ties at the store (or your own personal ties). I highly recommend!

    • Reply Sophie December 12, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      Finally, a bag for flour and spices! I was actually wondering this week what you use Erin, since it seems somewhat impractical to tote a whole lot of glass jars down to the shop and back again? My local bulk store has small plastic bags that I use, but it does feel wasteful for just a tablespoon of a spice! Nonetheless, they do get reused for dinner scraps to stop the bin from smelling too much (no composting/food waste service here yet).

      • Reply Erin Boyle December 12, 2016 at 2:38 pm

        We do tote our little glass jars to the spice shop for refilling since they’re lightweight and small (and spices don’t need regular refilling), but alas we don’t have a bulk flour option nearby us, so we buy the paper bags of flour at the local grocery!

        • Reply Sophie December 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm

          Ah, paper would be a good option! I keep very few spices at home so every now and then, when a new recipe calls for a new spice, I have to buy a little. Not all of them make it into a permanent jar, so I have a little cup with lots of different spices in plastic bags. Nice to know that there is a way to replace that!

  • Reply Lynn @ The Not Dead Yet Blog December 12, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I’m a big believer in cloth napkins! It’s ridiculous how many paper products we go through, so I cut it down however possible. It’s an ongoing process.

  • Reply Rachel December 12, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    I just want to say how easy it is to make your own wool dryer balls for the cost of a couple skeins of wool yarn and a pair of pantyhose! Much more affordable than buying them for nearly $50!!

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 12, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      So glad you’ve had luck doing that! I love that a lot the things on this list are things you could also make yourself and give to loved ones!

      • Reply mado December 13, 2016 at 9:08 am

        Yes, I love that so many comments are from people making things on this list rather than buying – one of the things that makes your site so great!

        • Reply mado December 13, 2016 at 9:09 am

          I mean that you leave room for both options – buying from great makers and diy-ing! 😉

  • Reply Sorcha December 12, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    What a lovely gift guide to find, especially right now in the midst of all the holiday commercialism.

    Even personally I appreciate little nods to things I can do to be better to our environment. I mean well but sometimes it seems so overwhelming thinking of where to start.

  • Reply Angela Storm December 12, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I’m seeing my parents a set of linen placemats and cloth napkins for Christmas (I almost typed Halloween?! What?). I’m really looking forward to that project! And we LOVE our wool dryer balls. If folks miss the scent of softener or dryer sheets, you can always put a few drops of essential oils on the wool balls. It does the trick!

    • Reply Angela Storm December 12, 2016 at 8:17 pm


  • Reply fefe December 12, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Love these ideas (and your blog!)

  • Reply Greta December 12, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    I really appreciate your environmentally friendly gift list. I love everything on it and I learned about reusable coffee filters! What?! Mind blown.

  • Reply Veronika December 13, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Hi Erin,
    My newest habit shift when it comes to switching from disposables to reusables (that you don’t mention in this list) is Abeego. A beeswax soaked cloth wrap to keep your food fresh without plastic foil. I’ve been using it for several months and guess what’s everybody getting for Christmas from me 🙂 I just love it. Preserves cheese and bread the best and smells incredible. Check it out!
    Regards from gloomy Sweden,

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 13, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Love that! I use a similar product made by a company called Bees Wrap! I’d love to try making my own one day, too!

  • Reply Mary December 13, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks for this great list! I’m excited to see the hemp coffee filters especially…a great stocking stuffer for my pour over coffee lovin’ honey. I really appreciate you sharing your way of living more sustainably.

  • Reply Jennifer December 15, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Having read your book, I considered giving it to a relative. When I got her wishlist, Simple Matters was on the top of her items! Needless to say, it’ll be under the tree this year at our gathering. 🙂

  • Reply Jill Maier December 16, 2016 at 8:46 am

    This is the best gift guide I’ve seen this year.

  • Reply Rebecca December 17, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Absolutely love this post Erin. It’s such a great reminder that some simple things can cause shifts in our behavior. I’ve had my eye on those coverable dishes for a long time, but the simple bags would solve some of my grocery store guilt over packaging and bags. It seems such an obvious solution but I needed it! 🙂

  • Reply Kim B. December 26, 2016 at 2:32 am

    The French soap a la savon de Marseille is a great travel take-along — if you grate it and save it, it makes for handy laundry soap (when you’re doing some undies in the sink, for example!).

  • Reply Lana January 2, 2017 at 10:35 am

    I recently re-bought your book Simple Matters. I read it originally on Kindle, but after reading it I knew it was something I wanted to go back to again and again. So, I bought a paper copy from one of my favorite stores and now own both! Excited to reread the book and focus on simplifying in the new year. Thanks for sharing all your tips and resources. It is and will continue to be super helpful.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 2, 2017 at 10:47 am

      i’m so touched to hear that! thanks so much for your support!

  • Reply Melanie November 16, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Erin, this gift guide is really great. I often refer to it for inspiration. Would you consider doing an updated version this year? Such a refreshing taste on gifting!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 16, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      In the works and coming soon!


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