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Last Updated on 07/08/2021
Looking for ethical gift inspiration for the traveller in your life? Discover my sustainable gift guide which is packed with ethical and eco-friendly travel gifts for the adventurers who want to make a difference no matter how small.
Travel is one of life’s greatest experiences but it can also come at a cost to the planet we love to explore. Whether it’s for further afield or closer to home, these 20 beautiful gift ideas will help travel lovers create a positive impact on the planet wherever they go. This guide suits a range of budgets too.
3 reasons why you should always buy sustainable travel gifts
These eco-friendly gift ideas are perfect for sustainable travellers
Protecting the environment is a fight against plastic pollution… and pollution of any kind. How many gifts have you received that you never ended up using? They just sit around gathering dust until one day you throw them away.
The problem is if these gifts contain plastic or other non-recyclable materials they end up in landfills and pollute our oceans. It’s such a huge waste of resources, particularly when you add up the carbon footprint created from making the materials in the first place.
You can’t predict whether a gift will end up being used or not, but you can help its chances by choosing something useful. Take it further by going for products made out of durable, biodegradable or recyclable materials. Your loved one and the planet will thank you (read more about how you can make a positive impact on the planet here).
Buying gifts that are Fairtrade and ethically made gives back to local communities and the local economy. On top of that, you’re standing up for fair wages and the fair treatment of workers throughout the supply chain.
In a world where so many brands are still not transparent about who makes their products, choosing where you put your money can make a big difference.
From plastic to toxic chemicals and climate change, wildlife is forced to put up with a lot of damage to habitats. Not to mention the products that contain animal derivatives…
Buying vegan and eco-friendly products ensures you’re not contributing to the degradation of animal habitats. You can even take it a step further and choose gifts that give back to wildlife charities.
20 Best eco-friendly gift ideas that are perfect for travel lovers
Budget: Under £10
1. Greenfrog Botanic Laundry Soap Nuts
It’s a detergent that grows on trees – and no I’m not going nuts. Greenfrog Botanic Soap Nuts are a completely natural and eco-friendly way to clean your clothes on the go and the best part? You can get them past security at the airport because they’re essentially a bag of nuts.
The magic is in the shells which contain Mother Nature’s detergent, saponin, a natural surfactant that creates soap suds that cleans and softens your clothes while maintaining their original colours. This eco-friendly gift idea makes an excellent stocking filler for eco-conscious travellers.
2. Suma Travel Alternative Soap Tin
Solid toiletries make packing a carry-on suitcase a breeze because you don’t need to worry about liquid allowances. They’re zero waste and they last longer too.
The problem is once they get wet they can be a right pain to keep clean and they can leave residue all over the contents of your bag.
The solution? It’s as simple as this Alternative Soap Travel Tin. Made from recyclable aluminium, this handy little tin is lightweight and fits your solid toiletries like a glove. Another great stocking filler!
Need some ideas about what to put in your tin? Here’s my guide to the best solid toiletries for travel.
3. Suck On That Reusable Bamboo Straws
It’s time to get rid of plastic straws for good and these reusable bamboo drinking straws from Suck On That are an essential gift for any traveller trying to cut down on the amount of single-use plastic they use.
These straws come in a pack of 10 with a white drawstring pouch so you can take them wherever you go without worrying about keeping them hygienic.
Made from sustainably sourced bamboo grown in a rural Cambodian village, south of Phnom Penh, the straws are eco-friendly, dishwasher safe and support Fairtrade employment.
4. Paper High Handmade Elephant Dung Notebook
Yep, you read it right. Elephant dung.
These notebooks are handmade from real elephant dung but you would never have guessed it.
Both beautiful and sustainable, these quirky notebooks, manufactured by Eco Maximus, help make a difference to the communities that produce them and raise awareness of the plight of the Sri Lankan elephant.
It’s one of my top ethical gift ideas for both elephant lovers and travel writers combined. Perfect for journaling and filling with favourite travel memories!
5. Mount Purious ‘Leaving On a Jet Plane’ Travel Gift Set
The ‘Leaving On a Jet Plane’ Travel Gift Set is a tin of rescue remedies designed to help you get through those long days spent confined to a plane or bus.
This beauty pick-me-up contains Rosehip Oil Facial Skin Care which moisturises the face and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles after a session of being exposed to dry ‘plane air’.
Rosewater Facial Toner cleanses and refreshes the skin, Argan Oil Skin & Haircare rejuvenates hair and Hemp Oil Body Moisturiser nourishes and hydrates the skin. Free of parabens, SLS or palm oil, this tin of pick-me-ups is cruelty-free and suitable for vegans.
6. Sky Ocean Rescue Pass On Plastic Collection
Sky Ocean Rescue have teamed up with Project 0 and celebrities including Kate Moss, Harry Kane, Cara Delevingne, Sienna Miller, Rita Ora, HRH Princess Eugenie of York, Fearne Cotton and Ronnie Wood to design reusable alternatives to the five most common single-use plastic items currently contributing to the quarter of a tonne of plastic entering our oceans every second.
Each celebrity has their own signed range which includes a reusable water bottle, a coffee cup, a tote bag, an on-the-go cutlery set and a three-piece beeswax wrap set and all proceeds are donated to worldwide ocean conservation projects.
Every single one of these products makes a unique eco-friendly travel gift for any travel lover’s packing list.
Price: ££ – £££
7. From Belo BeLOVE Canvas Shopper Bag
For a simple gift that makes the world of difference, look no further than Belo Bags. With every purchase from the Belo Collection, the brand donates food to the homeless in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
The BeLOVE tote shopping bag is an affordable ethical gift made from 100% organic cotton. Spacious and easily rolled up, this tote bag is a perfect way for travellers to ditch the plastic bag on the go while making a difference to a community in need.
8. Ethique Gift Trial Pack for Normal Skin & Hair
Solid toiletries are a game-changer in a traveller’s packing list. New Zealand-based Ethique is the world’s first zero-waste beauty and lifestyle brand with all its products made out of solid bars instead of liquid formulas.
Made from high-quality and Fairtrade ingredients, every product is vegan and cruelty-free.
The Gift Trial Pack for Normal Skin & Hair makes a great all-in-one ethical gift for travellers. It contains fan favourites including Pinkalicious and Wonderbar for hair, Bliss Bar for face and Sweet Orange & Vanilla for the body.
Perfect for sustainable pamper times on the road. Plus, a tree is planted for every delivery.
9. Critically Endangered Socks
Socks. We all need them but they’re famously not very exciting unless, of course, they’re Critically Endangered Socks.
A perfect gift for travellers who are passionate about wildlife conservation, these limited-edition socks are designed in partnership with wildlife conservation trusts to help save critically endangered animals across the globe.
There are only 1,000 pairs of socks made from each range and they’re made from a beautifully soft and sustainable blend of bamboo and cotton. Animals to support include the Sumatran Elephant, the Amur Leopard, the Maui Dolphin and the Hawksbill Turtle.
10. BAM Contrast Trainer Socks
Yep, socks as a gift again – but hear me out. BAM’s 5-star rated set of three black trainer socks are shock-absorbing, versatile and gender-neutral so you can wear them with any outfit.
They’re also made from bamboo, one of the most sustainable clothing materials because the plant grows quickly without the need for pesticides or excess water.
Bamboo clothing is excellent for travel as not only is it comfy and gentle on skin but it’s temperature controlling and stays fresher for longer. Ideal if you don’t always have access to laundry facilities!
11. RNLI Yes! Studio Travel Pouches
The Set of 3 Travel Pouches by Yes! Studio give 100% of profits to RNLI (The Royal National Lifeboat Institution), the largest charity that saves lives at sea across the coasts of the UK and Northern Ireland.
The pouches are made from water-resistant and durable rip-stop fabric. Versatile and with beautiful designs, these travel pouches make an ideal ethical gift for travellers wanting to make a difference while keeping their essentials organised.
12. Neon Kactus Reusable Travel Coffee Mug
Takeaway coffee cups are notoriously bad for the environment. Enter the Reusable Travel Coffee Mug by Neon Kactus, here to make sure every coffee lover gets their caffeine fix when travelling.
This coffee cup is fully insulated and leakproof so there’s no chance of awkward spills. It’s also made from the highest quality double walled stainless steel to keep your drink hot for 6 hours and cold for 12 hours.
Designed with a matte finish, it’s easy to grip and hand wash too. Plus, this eco-friendly travel mug comes in a range of pretty colours, including black, blue and mint green.
13. WUKA Ultimate Midi Brief
Periods can be a pain to deal with when travelling. Not to mention the number of disposables that end up in landfills… Say goodbye to stuffing every nook and crevice of your bag with pads and tampons because WUKA make periods more comfortable and more sustainable.
Their Ultimate Midi Brief is your complete tampon and pad replacement, preventing over 200 disposables from going to landfills with every pair.
The material is made from eco-friendly Tencel™️, a carbon-neutral fabric from Austria. Each pair is super absorbent for maximum comfort for up to eight hours depending on flow. They’re also machine washable.
14. elzle Solar Power Bank and Flashlight
elzle’s Solar Power Bank and Flashlight is one of those super gadgets that eco-conscious travellers and hardcore adventurers will love. This powerful multi-purpose tool doubles as an 18 LED flashlight and power bank for smartphones and tablets without guzzling power of its own.
Completely solar power-operated, it’s dustproof, waterproof and shatter-resistant and above all, a great way to reduce your carbon footprint on the road. You won’t ever have to worry about power shortages or power cuts in remote areas again.
15. Veecoco Vegan Cooking Courses
Arguably, the best ethical gift you can give a travel lover is something that helps to fuel their wanderlust. That’s exactly what you get with Veecoco, particularly for foodies.
Veecoco offers more than 600 lessons from 18 online courses on some of the best cuisines from around the world, including Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese. They’re all 100% vegan too.
They have a range of gift card options which gives the recipient either 1, 3, 6 or 12 month access to all courses and lessons. Students can learn at their own pace, download coursebooks and earn vegan cooking certificates too.
Price: £££- ££££
Budget: £51 and above
16. Elvis & Kresse Reclaimed Firehose Large Wash Bag
Zero-waste travel lovers will adore this Elvis & Kresse Reclaimed Firehouse Wash Bag as it’s handmade from a genuine decommissioned firehose and lined with high visibility waste parachute silk. It’s a wonderfully simple and ethical gift that breathes new life into materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
It’s versatile, with the ability to carry cosmetics, toiletries or any other travel paraphernalia. It’s also waterproof in case of exploding toothpaste tubes and leaky shampoo bottles.
What’s more, 50% of profits from this luxury accessory is donated towards The Fire-Fighters Charity. A gift that keeps on giving!
17. Boody Cosy Knit Wrap
One of my all-time favourite travel essentials is my big oversized scarf. I use it for overzealous aircon on flights, an extra blanket, a curtain around hostel bunk beds and, of course, extra warmth in chillier destinations.
This is why Boody’s Cosy Knit Wrap makes an excellent gift. You’re giving the gift of warmth and comfort wherever the recipient goes.
The oversized shawl is made from pure viscose derived from bamboo, making it a sustainable travel gift too. Available in a two-tone knit pattern, the shawl is both breathable and durable.
Although it has a heavy-weight true knit material, it can easily be wrapped up small and stuffed into a suitcase.
18. Steri Pen Adventurer Opti UV Handheld Water Purifier
The Steri Pen is the eco-friendly answer to unsafe drinking water. Perfect for going off-grid or to destinations where the water is known to be a bit dodgy, it can perform up to 60 purification treatments per set of batteries.
It can kill over 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.99% of viruses and 99.9% of protozoa (i.e. Giardia and Cryptosporidium).
Lightweight with a flashlight built in, it proves that it’s officially time to wave the single-use plastic bottle goodbye.
19. Osprey Europe Arcane Large Daypack
Every traveller needs a bag they can trust to keep their belongings safe wherever they go. Osprey Europe never fail to deliver, particularly with their brand new sustainable Arcane range.
Made from hemp and 100% recycled polyester, the Arcane Large Daypack is a handy 20L bag for out and about. The backpack comes in a choice of seven colours, internal pockets and padded laptop sleeve for organisation.
The bag also has a PFC-free weatherproof coating. PFCs are synthetic chemicals used to make outdoor gear waterproof. The problem is they aren’t biodegradable and end up bio-accumulating in food chains. Osprey’s move away from this is an exciting step for this outdoor brand.
You can also find other sustainable travel bags here.
20. House of Marley Liberate Air Wireless Earbuds
The music-loving traveller will appreciate these super portable wireless earbuds by House of Marley and what’s more, they tick the box for ethical gifts.
Made from bamboo, natural wood fibre composite and Marley’s signature REWIND™ fabric, the earbuds are sustainable, sweat-proof and water-resistant.
A 9-hour on-board playtime and a combined total of 32 hours in the case give these earbuds an impressive battery life, making them the perfect companion on the go.
Quick tips on buying eco-friendly gifts
Here are some top tips to help you be more sustainable when you’re shopping for gifts:
Avoid single-use plastic
Wherever possible, try to avoid products made out of single-use plastic. One of the biggest environmental issues is plastic pollution – not just the waste that ends up in landfills but also the carbon footprint of making virgin plastic materials. Opt instead for products made from biodegradable or recycled materials.
Quality over quantity
Make sure the gift you’re buying is durable, particularly if it’s meant for travel. Choose gifts that are useful rather than gimmicky and can withstand whatever adventure is thrown at it instead of falling to bits!
Support local businesses
A brilliant way to give back through your gift shopping is to support independent and local businesses.
Use sustainable wrapping
A lot of wrapping paper is not sustainable as it contains plastic. Not ideal for an eco-friendly gift! Give you wrapping paper the scrunch test. If it bounces back then it can’t be recycled.
Alternatively, you can get creative with your gift wrapping. Try old paper bags, newspapers and ribbons instead of sellotape.
The most eco-friendly gift of all isn’t an actual physical product but an experience (although admittedly it does depend on what experience it is).
Give the travel lover in your life the gift of wanderlust whether it’s in the form of a hotel stay, environmentally-conscious activity or cooking classes from around the world!
I would love to hear about what you thought of these products in this ethical gift guide for travel lovers, or if indeed I’ve missed something that you can’t travel without.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and happen to know someone who is struggling for gift inspiration – feel free to share the love on social media!
Want more eco-friendly travel gifts?
- 10 Best Water Filter Bottles for Travel and hiking (updated 2021)
- 11 Top Zero Waste Sunscreens That Protect Your Skin and the Planet
- Top 10 Responsible Travel Books to Inspire Your Wanderlust