There are lots of good reasons to spend time in nature. From the fresh air to circulation-improving movement to the well-being boost we get from literally seeing green, spending more time outdoors can improve your loved one’s mood and life satisfaction. So why not help out your friends and family with gifts that encourage them to spend time in nature?
Here are some sustainable gifts for the existing and aspiring nature lovers in your life.
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Packs That Tread Lightly on the Environment
First up, a comfortable backpack for the 10 essentials, and sometimes, a lot more!
Backpack brand Gregory’s high-rated Baltoro 65 for men and Kalmia 50 for women feature a body, base, and lining with at least 40% recycled content and PFC-free water-repellent coating. Suppliers adhere to a pro-human-rights social compliance program with third-party audits. Gregory designs backpacks to be repaired and donates a portion of yearly profits to the Conservation Alliance.
For a pack with some style, check out REI’s Co-op Flash 18 Pack Pride Graphic Edition, with Pride art from social justice-focused designer Christina Moreland. REI is recognized for its co-op business model that prioritizes social and environmental stewardship. The backpack incorporates recycled nylon and bluesign®-approved materials.
Comfortable Gear for All Kinds of Weather
Next, give your recipient comfort beyond the pack.
In response to the pollution created by the fashion industry, Rens created the world’s first “coffee sneakers” made in part from used coffee grounds to create comfortable and fully waterproof shoes. Newly released Rens hoodies each divert 43 cups of recycled coffee grounds and about 12 recycled plastic bottles from landfill, and save 2,300 liters of water versus conventional cotton sweatshirts.
Climate-friendly favorite Patagonia, a participant in 1% for the Planet, offers a Fitz Roy Down Sleeping Bag with temperature protection from 30°F (-1°C) and excellent sustainability stats. Not only is the sleeping bag Fair Trade Certified™ sewn, 68% of products are made with recycled materials. Also, Patagonia is the only outdoor clothing company to certify 100% of virgin down to the Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS).
Conscientious Mugs To Help You Face the Day
There’s no need to wait for warm weather to go outside!
Share the gift of on-the-go, DIY beverages with a Bodum Portable Coffee Maker. Fitting comfortably in any backpack water bottle pocket, it functions like a French press for loose coffee grounds or tea. Bodum designs specifically with Sustainable Development Goals 6 (clean water), 7 (clean energy), and 13 (climate action) in mind, produces 70% of the energy it uses, and aims for carbon-neutral production by 2023.
Meanwhile, B-Corp Miir prioritizes clean water in their production of stainless steel drink and food containers. The Climate+ Positive tumbler line is BPA-free and boasts a 110% climate footprint offset with 25% less steel and no new plastic used. The company has given $3.5 million towards clean water projects since its 2009 founding. It is Climate Neutral Certified and Evergreen® Certified.
Sustainable Skin Care for the Win
Outdoor adventurers often overlook skin care. But it’s an important consideration for anyone planning on spending time outdoors, whether for an hour or a week.
Remind them with mineral sunscreens from the W.S. Badger Company, a family-owned B-Corp. A maker of organic, cruelty-free body care since 1995, all Badger sunscreens are PABA-free and use zinc oxide instead of oxybenzone or octinoxate for sun protection, which makes them coral reef-safe and gives them high safety ratings from the Environmental Working Group.
For backpackers, the Soak and Float shampoo bar from Lush is a great choice, and smells “like a campfire crackling at night.” The bar is vegan and self-preserving and comes “naked” — without packaging — though you can choose to add a recyclable cork pot or reusable tin. Lush is committed to continual improvement. Its packaging has 89% total recycled content and will soon be 100% recyclable or compostable. The shampoo bars alone avoid nearly 6 million plastic bottles and the use of 450,000 liters of water a year globally.
Spend Time in Nature in All Seasons
We know we said this last year, but park passes simply don’t get old. The $80 annual pass gains your loved ones priceless access to 1,180 sights around the U.S. (military vets visit free) and help cultivate a love for our natural world. Don’t forget to review your leave no trace principles before you head out on your outdoor adventure.
You can also experience nature together in a different way: on a cross-country train trip. The Chicago to San Francisco route, for example, on Amtrak’s California Zephyr train offers panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevadas in a fuel-efficient way that saves scores of greenhouse gases compared to cars.
Editor’s Note: This article, originally published in December 2022, was updated in November 2023.