Figuring out what gift ideas are sustainable can be tricky, so let’s break it down. There are a few different ways to choose sustainable gifts for your loved ones: by buying locally, buying experiential gifts, buying fair trade items and by making your own gifts.

Buy Local

Purchasing holiday gifts from Boston-based craftsmen and small businesses is a great way to simultaneously support the local economy and lower your carbon footprint. Many items for sale at big chain stores are shipped from around the globe, which causes carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation of the item. Buying locally reduces the number of miles an item has to travel to get to you. There are literally hundreds of local businesses to choose from, but some recommendations for Boston-area companies with environmental and health conscious gifts include the following.

 Sustainable Holiday Gifts In Boston

(Credit, Cameron Bruns)

Skincare, cosmetics
53 Dartmouth St.
Boston, MA 02116
(857) 284-7078

Twelve Chairs
Furniture, decor, books
581 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02118

NOA Jewelry
Jewelry, decor 
88 Charles St.
Boston, MA 02114
(857) 233-4912

Buy Experiential 

Another way to give sustainably is by giving experiential gifts rather than material items. Experiences, especially local ones, often have a smaller carbon footprint than material goods, and are more fun! Some examples of experiential gifts are golf memberships, theater tickets, museum passes, art classes, etc. For experiential gifts in right in Boston, try the following.

Boston Center For Adult Education
122 Arlington St.
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 267-4430

 Sustainable Holiday Gifts In Boston

(Credit, Cameron Bruns)

Urban Art Bar
163 Old Colony Ave.
Boston, MA 02127
(617) 596-0553

Buy Fair Trade

Holiday gifts should also be socially and economically sustainable, in addition to environmentally responsible. Buying things that are Fair Trade Certified is one way to do just that. Furthermore, October was fair trade month. There may be some extra inventory on sale now that it is November. The following stores have fair trade offerings:

Equal Exchange Cafe
226 Causeway St.
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 372-8777

Ten Thousand Villages
252 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02135
(617) 372-8743

City Feed & Supply
672 Center St.
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 524-1700

DIY Gifts

If you are particularly crafty, you could also hand make holiday gifts. These days, handmade doesn’t just mean a macaroni necklace, it is relatively easy to create something that looks boutique-y, not to mention unique. Spray painted terra cotta planters, knitted mittens, DIY jewelry, etc. all show that you’ve put some serious time, thought and love into your gifts. In addition to being more sustainable, these gifts are often more wallet friendly. Not much of an artist? There are a few spots around Boston that have classes where you can create homemade gifts with a bit of guidance.

Bead + Fiber
Jewelry making classes
460 Harrison Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 426-2323

Sewing classes
45 Harvard St.
Brookline, MA 02445
(617) 232-4343

The Eliot School
Woodworking, painting, and other classes
24 Eliot Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 524-3313

Sustainable gifts not only show your loved ones that you care about them, but they also prove that you care about the earth, the economy and impoverished populations. These gifts come with a more interesting story and with more thought than something bought at a typical chain store. Make the holidays extra special this year by going green with your gift-giving.

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Cameron Bruns is the founder of and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on


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