10 Thoughtful Gifts to Make Earth Day More Festive

Stuff that inspires environmental stewardship

By Katie O'Reilly

April 21, 2018


The best gift you can give on Earth Day is no gift at all. This is a time of year when consuming less, instead of more, is one of the best ways to show your love for the planet.

The next time you need to buy something special, though, whether it be for a birthday, anniversary, or holiday, consider channeling the Earth Day spirit with an intentional gift that inspires good stewardship of the planet we call home. For some handy tips, pick up a copy of Michelle Neff’s Simple Acts to Save Our Planet: 500 Ways to Make a Difference (Simon & Schuster, April 2018). Each page offers up the perfect entrée into a more eco-conscious lifestyle (think “Unsubscribe from all the catalogs you don’t read” and “Bring reusable containers to restaurants for leftovers”). Below are some additional gifty highlights.

A charger is one gift you know recipients will actually use. The jaunty WakaWaka Power+ ($60) is a lightweight and packable solar panel that has the power to fully charge smartphones and other devices. It provides 200 hours of luminescence, has four settings for light, and can be used as an SOS emergency beacon in the backcountry. Plus, it’s made from recycled materials, and proceeds help provide light and energy to families in remote, developing areas.

The United States’ honeybee population count is less than half of what it was in the 1940s. In an effort to keep hives flourishing, the skincare mavens behind Waxing Kara source plants from fields filled with the high-nectar indigenous plants that attract bees and help them do their important work. Using those plants (plus fats and no preservatives), they handcraft soaps, soaks, salves, balms, and candles. The Spa Bag ($60)—intended to help giftees “bee chill”—comes with Honey Scrub, Body Butter, a Spa Candle, Mineral Salt Soak, and Sweet Lips Natural Honey Lip Balm.

Colorado-based photographer and graphic designer Rob Decker studied under Ansel Adams, and has spent the past 50 years exploring and photographing “America’s best idea”—partly to raise awareness for the continued protection and operation of all national parks. His WPA-style National Parks Posters ($35) are printed with soy-based inks on 100-percent recycled paper, and the artist donates 10 percent of annual profits to organizations that support the parks. We’re partial to the Yosemite poster, but check out the iconic Delicate Arch featured on the Arches poster, and the Bass Harbor Lighthouse on Acadia’s. Each poster comes numbered, dated, and signed.

In other Colorado artist news, environmental advocate Katherine Homes makes unique and whimsical hats to celebrate the natural environment, spotlight endangered wildlife and landscapes—and populate the planet with wildflowers. All hats come with product tags made from recycled paper and wildflower seeds. Homes’s hats features a wide array of creatures, and as a member of 1% for the Planet, she partners with organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity. We’re digging the newly unveiled Green Sea Turtle Baseball Cap ($35), the proceeds for which benefit groups laboring to protect the endangered creature.

Turn This Book Into a Beehive! ($20) is designed to introduce eight- to 12-year-old kids to the mason bee, a super-pollinator capable of doing the work of more than 100 honeybees. As interactive as it is straightforward, this book, new from Workman Publishing, contains 20 activities and hands-on experiments. It shows kids and parents how to use balloon and static electricity to better comprehend how pollen “leaps” from flowers and how to make a “bee buzzer” that demonstrates how bees’ wings generate their trademark buzzing sounds. And as promised, kids can use the perforated pages and cover to turn parts of the book into a literal beehive. Talk about a neat second life.

Adidas and Parley for the Oceans partnered up a few years ago to upcycle oceanic plastic waste into athletic shoes. This Earth Day, they’re taking things a step further and looping Major League Soccer into the fold. The groups have collaborated to collect coastal plastic waste, rework it into technical fibers, and create Earth Day soccer uniforms—each of which reincarnate about 13 plastic bottles—for all 23 MLS teams. This weekend, the soccer pros will compete wearing them—and for a limited time, you can gift the very same jerseys ($85) to the Earth-loving athletes in your life.

Anyone with a yard, a balcony, or even a windowsill can help support the planet’s plant and animal species. Even a tiny garden attracts wildlife and pollinators and peacefully resolves inter-ecosystem conflict. In The Humane Gardener ($25) from Princeton Architectural Press, journalist and gardener Nancy Lawson interviews scientists and horticulturalists, revealing the power of home gardens, native plants, backyard woodlands, and wildlife rehabilitation centers. This book breaks down exactly how to select native species, optimally cohabitate with “pests,” encourage natural processes and evolution in the garden, and provide habitats capable of sheltering butterflies, birds, bees, and baby animals.

Kids may grumble about sock gifts, but we promise they’re always a hit with hikers and trail runners. Now that thru-hiking season is upon us, the sock-makers behind Farm to Feet have released a limited-edition Appalachian Trail collection. Developed in collaboration with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, pairs ($22.50) are named for an iconic feature of the trail (Harpers Ferry, Clingmans Dome, and Max Patch, pictured below). A portion of sales support the conservancy and its mission to preserve and manage the world’s oldest hiking-only trail.  

The official Earth Day 2018 theme is “End Plastic Pollution,” and strategically speaking, the most effective way to realize that mission may be to enlist kids. Enter EcoGear Products’ “Brite Buddies” collection of backpacks ($42 each). The company makes all of its backpacks with fabric made from discarded water bottles, and Brite Buddies also come with embedded LED lights for safety. The best part is, they essentially allow kids to wear their stuffed animals, as they take the form of plush pandas, puppies, and pigs (pictured). Brite Buddies also boast dual mesh side pockets, comfy padded straps, recycled polyester lining, and internal zip pockets.