ByMitch Ratcliffe

Dec 5, 2023

The holidays can be a time for preserving and restoring nature. Whether shopping for a husband, brother, son, or father, the choices you make will have an impact beyond the smile on his face — make your gift’s impact good for the environment with these ideas from companies that use sustainable, Fair Trade practices, and offer recycling services for the products they sell.

The holidays are a time of tremendous waste; more than $8.3 billion will be spent on unwanted gifts, with more than five billion pounds ending up in a landfill, according to gift-sharing site Giftster. Try shopping local thrift stores to find deals and give items a second or third useful life, lowering your holiday’s carbon footprint.

Men are more likely than women to decide they don’t want a gift, and Finder’s Unwanted Gift Report says they don’t always appreciate the music and tech presents they receive. But they are more likely to want to keep clothing and household items. Our list will please even the grumpiest guys.

This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item through one of these links, we receive a small commission that helps fund our Recycling Directory.

Clothing With Purpose

The Apex Jacket by surfer Kelly Slater, whose Outerknown clothing brand is pioneering sustainably made outdoor gear, is a rugged and comfortable option made with 91% recycled nylon and 9% spandex at Fair Trade Certified factories. Made for a great fit with plenty of pockets and a hood for travelers who prefer the windswept shoreline, the Apex Jacket is made to be water-repellant using as few chemicals as possible. The company has converted 95% of its fibers to sustainable sources, such as recycled textiles and regeneratively grown cotton.

When he’s done with your gift, your beloved can send it back to the Outerworn program, which helps customers sell and deliver the jacket to a new owner. After the product sells, he’ll receive a prepaid shipping label to send it forward and receive Outerknown store credit in return. A new service, Outerworn has kept a few thousand items out of the landfill — join the reuse revolution to make millions of jackets, shirts, and pants live on.

The Blueview Pacific is one of our favorite discoveries of 2023. They are the world’s first biodegradable shoe made with algae oil-based Soleic. This bioplastic foam breaks down in water or an industrial compost pile. The plant-based knitted upper is also biodegradable and features a removable cotton strap that adds a loafer-like look. While most other shoes come with heavy petroleum products, the Blueview Pacific is a sustainable choice without hinting of fossil fuel components.

Another footwear favorite is Wildling’s Panther, a high cut made with organic cotton and hemp-flax fleece lining. We reviewed the Panther last year, and the shoes continue to serve in the yard and on the trail. A Certified B Corp based in Germany, Wildling uses regeneratively produced materials, contributes 1% for the Planet, and supports rewilding projects in Europe. These shoes are a Greener Shopping Difference Maker because they have one of the lowest carbon footprints on the market, only 4.5 lbs. per pair, about 15% of the emissions associated with typical athletic shoes.

The Wildling Panther shoes we tested endured two months of daily outdoor use with aplomb.

Pardon our focus on shoes this year, but the footwear industry is responsible for 1.4% of annual CO2 emissions. We’re seeing a wave of new sustainable options, including the PSUDO Blue, a laceless sneaker made with 75% recycled plastic from about seven beverage bottles and 85% recycled foam insoles. These slip-ons are breathable and can be worn with or without socks due to an anti-microbial insole that reduces odor. Earlier this year, PSUDO founder Michael Rich explained the company’s renewable energy, near-shore, and zero-waste production efforts, which reduce carbon emissions associated with each pair.

The PSUDO Blue is made from recycled bottles in factories powered by renewable energy.

KOTN’s Men’s Burma Trousers are a low-impact, fashionable choice for the office or an evening at home. Made with 100% Egyptian cotton sourced from family farms in the Nile Delta and colored with OEKO-TEX-certified non-toxic dyes, these trousers will pair with sweaters and jackets to make a striking statement. KOTN, a Certified B Corp., offers a transparent supply chain, letting you know where materials come from and who makes them. We’re also impressed by the company’s commitment to the communities where it sources materials — it supports 18 schools and almost 2,400 farms in Egypt.

Hitting The Road

Travel can be more sustainable, but sometimes, your experience makes the impact worthwhile. Oceanographer John Englander’s annual Greenland Fact-Finding Expeditions are an opportunity to see firsthand the potential for many feet of sea level rise this century. It’s not an inexpensive gift but a life-changing one that takes you to the foot of calving glaciers and the top of the Greenland ice sheet with one of the world’s foremost authorities on sea level rise and author of Moving to Higher Ground. John’s been on Sustainability In Your Ear, so check out the conversation to learn what these six-day excursions will reveal about humanity’s impact on the planet.

Visit Greenland with oceanographer John Englander — it holds enough ice to raise sea levels by seven meters.

A traveler needs a great bag. Cotopaxi’s Allpa 70L Duffel Bag is ideal for long trips that require carry-on convenience. Cotopaxi, another early B Corp with well documented, humane supply chain that contributes 1% for the Planet, is a reliable sustainable choice. The Allpa Duffel features ballistic nylon paneling and recycled Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) coated fabric, which prevents tears and provides water resistance. When your gift recipient hangs up their traveling shoes, the Allpa can be traded in for store credit on their next outdoor choice.

Cotopaxi’s Allpa 70L Duffel Bag doubles as a backpack for the traveler with a lot of gear.

An Idea For The Kitchen

All this running and traveling can be hard on a guy, and a good cup of coffee can be just the right cure. Try a Vertu Festive Pack from Nespresso to give your giftee’s morning a caffeinated jolt. Nespresso has taken many steps to reduce the impact of its coffee makers and coffee pods. The company recently became a Certified B Corp. and committed to making its products more circular, starting with a free recycling mail-in program and more than 100,000 collection points for the aluminum pods for which it is best known. It has also adopted slow shipping to reduce the emissions associated with its regenerative coffee and adopted 100% renewable electricity in its production facilities.

It’s the merriest time of the year, a time for giving. So give back to nature by buying less, making informed purchases based on the sustainability of the gifts so you have a great story to tell the man who receives them. Every small step will help preserve the environment.

By Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch is the publisher at and Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation at Intentional Futures, an insight-to-impact consultancy in Seattle. A veteran tech journalist, Mitch is passionate about helping people understand sustainability and the impact of their decisions on the planet.