7 eco-friendly gifts that are kind to the planet

Posted by Sammi Mo on Dec 10th 2021


Want to do your part to be kinder to the environment and also shop for your loved ones this holiday? Take a look at this list of eco-friendly products that range from long-lasting, plastic-free, sustainably sourced or repurposed gifts that your family and the planet will appreciate. Shopping at Upworthy Market means directly supporting the artisans who craft their products, so with every purchase, you do good.

1. Recycled Paper Journal

With brown hues that evoke autumn, this journal is handcrafted of recycled paper by Mexican artisan Indira Flores. She applies the designs using colors from the bougainvillea flower, lining the spine with black leather. The journal opens to 76 pages of recycled paper.

2. Hand Made Wooden Desk Calendar

A sophisticated addition to any office desk, this calendar is the perfect accent for marking the passage of time. Never out of style, the calendar is handcrafted from local rain tree wood by Thailand's Waraporn Khamsuk, composed of a stand that houses numbered tiles resting just below month tiles. Each tile is made so that it can be removed and replaced with another, capable of expressing every day of the year.

3. Recycled Paper Earrings

Akwele Suma designs earrings of maritime charm in a festive red hue. She recycles paper by folding it into boats with terracotta masts and recycled plastic bead anchors. These Ghanaian handcrafted earrings exude playful naivete and an eco-conscious mindset. The artist uses the paper at hand so paper colors will vary, making each design a unique example of handcrafted art. These beads receive a protective coat of clear nail polish.

4. Recycled Rubber Sling

Dedicated to the use of eco-friendly materials, El Salvador's María Ruffatti designs this sleek and simple sling handbag. This bag is handcrafted from recycled rubber, and drapes over the shoulder on a single adjustable strap. A pocket at the front opens with a magnetic snap for storing small items. The bag's main compartment opens with a zipper, revealing a lined interior with an open pocket on one side.

5. Recycled Wrapper Shoulder Bag

This colorful shoulder bag comes from Maria Isabel Ramos in Guatemala. The eco-savvy designer knows the metalized wrappers used for sweets and chips are not biodegradable; therefore, in an effort to preserve the environment, she transforms them into a trendy accessory. 'My favorite color is silver, but I also like bright colors,' says Ramos of this shoulder bag. Entirely crafted by hand, the bag is lined with cotton and features an inner pocket.

6. Coconut shell piano

The kalimba, or African thumb piano, is easy to play and pleasing to the ear. Crafted from hollow coconut shell and painted in bright colors, it depicts a sea turtle on the front. The kalimba produces an array of varied tones when the stainless steel 'leaves' are plucked with the thumb. This petite and portable instrument is perfect for reproducing elements and tones of tribal music with ease, presented by Trisna Dewi.

7. Handmade Recycle Whale Sculpture

Working to clean up oceans and waterways, recycle, and employ the local community, Ocean Sole of Kenya creates amazing sculptures from recycled flip-flops. This colorful whale shark sculpture is formed and hand-carved from approximately 9 flip-flops, and can take as much as 7 hours to create.