Eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas other than metal straws

MANILA, Philippines – 2019 has been the year of eco-friendly straws – glass, metal, bamboo, you name it – and other reusable and sustainable items like canteens, tumblers, and bamboo toothbrushes. 

While that is good, our sustainability game could be much better if we take it up a notch. This is by going beyond metal straws and slowly transitioning to a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle even and especially at home.

And it’s much easier now. A lot of local merchants are making sustainable toiletries, food, skincare and pantry items more accessible to all of us.

I don’t know about you but there’s probably no better Christmas gift than something that helps protect the planet.  

Here are some gift ideas to get you started:

Refillable, cruelty-free toiletries

Most toiletries are not eco-friendly just because they’re placed in single-use packaging. How it was made (say, in huge factories) and the ingredients used (example: palm oil)  could also be harming the environment. 

Good thing, you can now buy almost every toiletry item that you need from local merchants who really have a hand in making their products. Because the production doesn’t go through a long assembly line, it is easier for you to trace if their ingredients are sustainably-sourced. 

Local merchants like Zero Basics offer deodorant, hand sanitizer, insect repellant, toothpaste, face toner, face serum, soap, shampoo, and more, that come in either recyclable, reusable or refillable containers. And they’re affordable too! Something you can give to your group of friends, officemates, cousins, titos and titas.

Zero Basics products are available at Beauty MNL. Use these coupons for discounts!

Package-free, refillable pantry items

A Christmas basket is definitely a great gift to give and receive. Unfortunately, most Christmas baskets we find in supermarkets are heavily wrapped in plastic with items that are stored in single-use packaging, too. Why not give something that can help the person you’re giving this special basket to start a more sustainable lifestyle? 

One of the ways you can do that is by making your own gift basket. You can either reuse old baskets (perhaps from last Christmas), opt for cloth bags or any recycled grocery bags. Head to a specialty grocery store like Ritual and fill it with useful pantry items like herbs and spices, coconut sugar, nuts, coffee, sauces, spreads and more. You can bring your own containers or buy them in their refillable packaging. 

And in your gift card, let the lucky recipient know that should they run out of these items, just bring the containers over to the store to have them refilled. 

Find other sustainable products in reusable packaging at Beauty MNL. Use these coupons for discounts!

Vegan, sustainably-sourced food

If we really want to spread the word on sustainability, we shouldn’t just look at the things we use but the food we eat as well. In case you haven’t seen it yet, a report released by the United Nations has called for people to eat less meat. It’s because animal agriculture is one of the major causes of the climate crisis.

That doesn’t mean you have to start giving away broccoli and lettuce, though! A lot of vegan items now aren’t just 'leaves' anymore. There are cookies, truffles, chocolate bars, ensaymada, chips, doughnuts, and other food items that make the perfect wholesome, sustainable Christmas gifts.

Here are some local merchants you can count on for great vegan food (that doesn’t taste like vegetables at all): 


You can also join the Manila Vegans Facebook group to know more about these vegan merchants. 

So, you think you’re ready to have a holly, jolly, eco-friendly Christmas? –

Rappler is building a network of climate advocates, LGUs, corporations, NGOs, youth groups, and individuals for the #ManyWaysToZeroWaste campaign, a movement pushing for responsible ways to use and reduce plastic. Go here to know how you can help. 

Marj Casal

Marj Casal heads the content team of BrandRap, Rappler’s sales and marketing arm. She helps create native advertising campaigns for brands like San Miguel Brewery, Shell, GCash, Grab, BDO, and more.