Green Gifts for Your Flower Child

by Lilian Burns
Nov 17, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Yep, it’s that time of year again: when holiday music accosts practically every radio station, when stores pull out all the stops on their window displays and when you find yourself cursing that one friend who finished all their Christmas shopping in August. Are you a person who cringes at a pile of gifts under the tree like it’s a tiny landfill? Do you hate the thought of all that plastic encroaching on your living space and somehow ending up in the ocean years down the line? Or maybe you just want your holiday to leave a little less of an impact on the Earth? Well, then this is the gift guide for you.

With all of the stuff involved in the holidays, the season can start to feel pretty wasteful. But if the idea of "eco-friendly gifts" conjures up the thought of homemade granola, something patchouli-scented or an amaryllis, think again. We've rounded up gifts that are guaranteed not to elicit that dreaded this-is-hideous-what-do-I-say smile — or be tossed into the pile of gifts earmarked for returns. Instead, behold: 14 fun, colorful, useful, amazing (and did I mention fun?) kids items that happen to have the hidden benefit of sustainability, meaning you can feel good about giving them to the littles in your life. 

'Tis the season of giving, right? So in addition to spoiling our loved ones, let’s give back to the Earth. Because when Mother Nature is happy, we’re all happy.

1 /14: Eco Bricks

1/14 :Eco Bricks

Eco Bricks are made from sustainable natural wood and are biodegradable — plus they're conveniently completely compatible with their plastic brick counterparts. They're also customizable and can be stained, painted, even drawn on with markers to give them a totally unique look. If you have a little one who is into Legos, these are a much more eco-friendly alternative.

Eco Bricks (90 pieces), $35 at Once Kids

2 /14: Eco-friendly shopping cart

2/14 :Eco-friendly shopping cart

This shopping cart, aside from being adorable, is built with organic rubberwood trees that are too old to produce latex. That's right: It's essentially a rubberwood retirement village. The cart's handlebars adjust with your child’s height, and it encourages imaginative play while helping tots develop their hand-eye coordination as they push it around. It's also made with soy- and water-based ink, which decomposes quicker than chemical ink. Could it get any better? Move aside, kiddos. I might bring this one to the grocery store myself.

Eco-friendly shopping cart, $80 at The Ultimate Green Store

3 /14: 'Hello Nature' book

3/14 :'Hello Nature' book

Nina Chakrabarti’s gorgeous illustrations bring this book to life and inspire your little ones to get outside and say, "Hello, Nature!" This book invites kids to draw, color and create; it's packed with facts, fun activities and so much more. Learn how to grow cress heads, make leaf prints and even set up a bird restaurant.

Hello Nature: Draw, Color, Make and Grow, $29.99 at Biome

4 /14: Pick Flowers, Not Fights T shirt

4/14 :Pick Flowers, Not Fights T shirt

You’re going to want this shirt for yourself. (Spoiler: They make it in adult sizes too!) Declaring "Pick Flowers, Not Fights," this too-cute tee is made with organic cotton and is unbelievably comfortable. It’s sure to become a favorite. Check out the brand's other great T-shirt designs, including "Strong is the New Pretty" and "Love Your Mother."

Pick Flowers, Not Fights T-shirt, $25 at TheBeeandTheFox/Etsy

5 /14: Eco-Dough

5/14 :Eco-Dough

For smaller hands, Eco-Dough is a play dough crafted from all-natural ingredients and colored by dyes from plants and veggies such as beets, spinach, paprika, carrots, purple sweet potatoes, red cabbage and blueberries. The dough's creator, Eco-Kids, also makes Eco-Fingerpaint and Eco-Crayons. Check out all its natural art supplies and unleash your little Picasso's talent.

Eco-Dough, $20 for six colors at Rose and Rex

6 /14: Moon phases puzzle

6/14 :Moon phases puzzle

This moon phases puzzle is not just a puzzle; it’s a work of art. Hand-carved from sustainable walnut and maple trees and built with all-natural sealant, this puzzle is a great gift for both younger children working on their fine motor skills and matching shapes and older kids studying the moon and tracking its phases.

Moon phases puzzle, $30 at FromJennifer/Etsy

7 /14: 'Baby's First Nuclear Physics Book'

7/14 :'Baby's First Nuclear Physics Book'

Make baby’s first book one to remember with one of these incredible handmade cloth editions from Etsy seller VerdantViolet. In addition to Baby’s First Nuclear Physics Book, there is also Baby’s First Astronomy Book, plus forays into electrical engineering, microbiology, genetics, neuroscience and civil engineering to name a few. These books are colorful and engaging and are printed using a method that wastes almost no fabric, ink, water or electricity — using eco-friendly water-based inks and no additional chemicals.

Baby’s First Nuclear Physics Book, $44 at VerdantViolet/Etsy

8 /14: Hape My Creative Cookery Club kids wooden play kitchen

8/14 :Hape My Creative Cookery Club kids wooden play kitchen

This play kitchen from Hape features everything your budding chef desires: tools, food and more. And it's made using nontoxic paints and wood from sustainably sourced forests. With its kid-friendly size, opening oven and cabinet and details like a sink and hooks for hanging all of kiddo's tools, this is sure to be the ultimate holiday gift.

Hape My Creative Cookery Club kids wooden play kitchen, $90 on Amazon

9 /14: Wooden toy camera set

9/14 :Wooden toy camera set

Sick of looking at your cell phone and realizing your kid has taken 1,239,823,497,238,565 pictures of the inside of his nostril? Let him have his own camera and become a master "photographer" with this sweet wooden camera that comes with interchangeable lenses, a tripod and a carrying case. The camera, tripod and lenses are made using sustainably sourced basswood and beechwood and are built with nontoxic glue. Let your little shutterbug run wild with this fantastic camera setup.

Wooden camera, $59 at beigebois/Etsy

10 /14: Oliver the Bear

10/14 :Oliver the Bear

Any of the ethically produced, hand-knit dolls from Cuddle + Kind are bound to instantly become your child’s best friend. There are so many different characters to choose from, and each soft, beautifully crafted knit dolls you buy provides 10 meals to a child in need.

Oliver the Bear, $68 (for 20-inch doll) at Cuddle + Kind

11 /14: Genevieve Gorder constellations teepee

11/14 :Genevieve Gorder constellations teepee

Every child, big or small, deserves a place to call their own — an escape, a spot to daydream, a reading nook, whatever you call it. This teepee is the perfect hideaway; its organic cotton canvas fabric is printed with a gorgeous constellation design, and its bamboo poles are dipped in nontoxic paint, making it the perfect spot for your child to cozy up and let their imagination run wild.

Constellations teepee, $129 at Land of Nod

12 /14: Top Race 12-piece toolbox

12/14 :Top Race 12-piece toolbox

Be honest: Don't you want this beautifully crafted toolbox with 12 tools and a carrying case? Each tool is painted with colorful nontoxic paint, and the tools and carrying case are made from responsibly sourced materials and built with nontoxic glue. And when kiddo's done playing — er, building houses — there is a spot for every tool clearly marked in the case, so cleanup will be a breeze (and how often can you say that about a toy?).

Top Race toolbox, $28 at Amazon

13 /14: Mushroom Farm

13/14 :Mushroom Farm

For kids young and old, this Organic Mushroom Farm is an all-around winner. The brand uses 100 percent recycled materials for both the growing medium and box, and you can grow on average 1-1/2 pounds of non-GMO organic mushrooms with minimal effort, harvest them in 10 to 15 days and expect at least two harvests from a single box.

Organic Mushroom Farm, $20 at Earth Easy

14/14 :Pin it!

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