11 holiday gift ideas for conscious consumers

From jeans and watches to cheese and produce, these products put the emphasis on sustainability
11 holiday gift ideas for conscious consumers
Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne (Reuters)
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

As much as we might try to resist, the creep of consumer capitalism gets all the more difficult to contend with at holiday time. There’s a lot to be said for the buying nothing movement; in case that’s too extreme, Quartz has previously advocated for not buying anything unless it hurts. But there are ways to more consume sustainably, with minimal impact on both people and the planet.

Patagonia is always a solid choice—in September, the brand’s founder restructured the business so that all profits would go towards fighting climate change. Here are a few other inspiring ideas to consider as you gift your friends and family this season.

Unspun jeans, $200

Ill-fitting clothing quickly gets discarded into landfills. But denim brand Unspun is pioneering a new model with its made-to-order business, offering a range of jeans styles from tapered to baggy for both men and women. It asks each shopper to scan their body measurements through an app for a custom made pair, so the wearer will get something that’s 100% right for them. This not only reduces textile waste, it also helps alleviates some of the carbon impact of online shopping, where people resort to buying two or three sizes of the same item because they’re unsure of sizing just to return whatever doesn’t fit.

2 models offer a rear view of Unspun jeans in different sizes
Unspun jeans
Photo: Unspun

Little Sun Diamond solar-powered lamp, $39

This solar-powered lamp is the brainchild of acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson. Five hours of charging this faceted design in the sun will yield just as many hours of bright light. The item can be worn with a lanyard around the neck for outdoor adventures or placed on a stand as a desk lamp, and each purchase also goes towards helping communities around the world with limited access to electricity.

The Little Sun Diamond lights up against a dark background
Little Sun Diamond
Photo: Olafur Eliasson

Darn Tough three-pair pack of socks, $69 ​

Socks are a favorite perennial stocking stuffer but too many brands produce ones that barely last beyond a year or two of wear. Darn Tough, which manufactures in Vermont, makes extra durable pairs and backs them up with a lifetime warranty. The brand promises to mend or replace any of their products for customers.

3 pairs of Darn Tough socks in different colors and patterns
Darn Tough Micro Crew 3-Pack socks
Photo: Darn Tough

Lettuce Grow Farmstand and Harvest Plan Starter, starts at $447

Started by actress Zoey Deschanel and Jacob Pechenik, Lettuce Grow is a self-watering, self-fertilizing system that makes it easy to grow your own food at home. The stands, which can be placed inside or outdoors, come in 12 to 36 plant variations and is also a way buyers can avoid chemicals and other harmful effects of large-scale farming. For the 2022 holiday, from Dec. 5-12, they’ll be offering a promotion for $75 off any Farmstand that is 18 plants or greater with the code: GROW4WINTER.

A Lettuce Grow growing stand placed in the corner of a living room
Lettuce Grow farmstand
Photo: Lettuce Grow

VanMoof S3 ebike, $2,548 or $91/month

The S3 is the most classic of styles from this buzzy Dutch ebike startup, which riders love because it makes for a time-saving and planet-friendly mode of transportation. One of the big draws for this brand is that it makes owning a bike worry-free. Each bike is trackable via app—and Van Moof promises to replace your bike in the event it gets stolen. Riders also have the option to turn off the electric assist to use their own muscle power if they want to sweat it out.

Portrait of the Van Moof S3 electric bike
Van Moof S3
Photo: Van Moof

Thinx boyshort, $38

A person who menstruates will use somewhere between 5,000 and 15,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime. A more sustainable way is to opt for absorbent underwear like this Thinx boyshort, which also works as a unisex style for people with incontinence. Until the end of the year, the company will donate a pair of underwear for each one purchased to nonprofits that help fight period poverty and promote access to reproductive health.

A model wears a pair of black Thinx boyshorts
Thinx boyshort
Photo: Thinx

Canada Goose sustainable Expedition parka $1,850

Best known as the parka of choice for scientists in the Arctic, Canada Goose now has an all white version of its most famous jacket, part of its Humanature sustainable line. What’s more, the brand offers a lifetime warranty on all of its jackets, and, as of 2022, the company is fully fur-free.

A model wears the Canada Goose standard expedition parka in white
Canada Goose Standard Expedition Parka Humanature
Photo: Canada Goose

Moonswatch Mission to Earth watch, $260

A crossover timepiece that combines Swatch bright colors and the silhouette of the Omega Speedmaster, the Moonswatch was one in a series that became the hottest launch the watch sector has seen in years. It also happens to be made from a hybrid of ceramic and biosourced material derived from castor-plant oil. Designed in a blue and green colorway as a celebration of the planet, the Mission to Earth watch, which features quartz movement, is water resistant and glows in the dark.

A closeup of the Swatch Omega Speedmaster Moonswatch
Moonswatch Mission to Earth
Photo: Swatch

Jasper Hill Farm The Diversion cheese collection, $150

This family-owned farm adheres to regenerative agricultural practices and pays partner farms three times what they’d make on commodity markets. The Diversion collection makes for an ideal assorted cheese-and-preserves party platter. If you have a long gifting list, Jasper Hill does volume gifting—ideal for clients, employees, or extended family—and also has subscription options to join its monthly cheese club.

A photo of the Jaspel Hill cheese and preserves set
The Diversion cheese and preserves set
Photo: Jasper Hill

Asket oversized cashmere wool scarf, $100

Capsule wardrobe enthusiasts will appreciate this scarf made of recycled wool and cashmere. Asket’s brand premise is to create a permanent collection of essential garments that people will wear for years, not just a few washes. The cost of each product is broken down on the website, detailing every step from raw material and milling, manufacturing, transport, and packaging. The company offers a care and repair program as well as buy-back options for unwanted clothing.

A model wears a gray Asket cashmere scarf
Asket oversized cashmere scarf
Photo: Asket

On Running Cloudneo sneakers, $30/month

Technically, you can’t buy this shoe from On Running. Available by subscription only from the Roger Federer-backed brand, the Cloudneo is designed for regular runners. When the shoes are worn down, the company takes them back and recycles them into a new pair. While a lot of sneakers are partially recyclable, the Cloudneo offers a fully circular model, while customers are ensured access to “new” sneakers on an ongoing basis.

Closeup of the Cloudneo sneaker from On Running
On Running Cloudneo
Photo: On Running