Close this search box.

10 Unique and Eco-Friendly Birthday Gifts for 2024 (Guide)

Getting a great gift for a special someone’s birthday is hard, especially if you’re clued up on the climate crisis facing the planet, and you want to show you care in a sustainable way, with only eco-friendly gifts.  

Thankfully, there are many sustainable options available, and what’s even better is that they can be unique!

If you’re stuck for inspiration for your eco-friendly birthday gifts, read on for some great ideas that will spur you into action:

10 Unique Eco-friendly Birthday Gifts to Give in 2023

1. A Tailored Playlist

Back in the day, giving a mixtape or CD as a gift was a popular option, and for a good reason. It demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to think about what tracks a person will like and to order them in a way that’s meaningful and unique.

The modern equivalent of this is making a playlist and sharing it digitally. This is entirely eco-friendly since you won’t be using any physical resources in the process other than the power needed to keep your laptop or smartphone running while you whittle down the songs to include. And if you’ve got renewable power at home, it’s a no-brainer.

2. A Personalized Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is important, and with a water bottle by your side, you don’t need to rely on single-use plastics when you want to quench your thirst.

You don’t just have to buy any old generic reusable water bottle when giving one as a gift, as there are plenty of customizable options out there. Order online, and you can add your own text to the bottle’s exterior and even choose your own design to print on the surface; it couldn’t be simpler!

Eco-friendly Birthday Gifts - Reusable Water Bottles

3. A digital Sketch – Easily Created from a Photo

Similar to the playlist idea, turning your photos into sketch-style drawings is both sustainable and very straightforward, thanks to modern editing tools.

Of course, you could just stick with a straight-up print-out of a picture that features you and your loved one whose birthday you’re aiming to commemorate. However, going that extra mile by editing the image and giving it an unusual twist, all through the magic of software, will be worth it to see the look on their face.

4. A Mini Herb Garden

Part of the drive for sustainability is about getting people to use produce that is locally sourced rather than imported from far away, and what’s closer than your own kitchen windowsill?

Even if you live in an apartment, any space with ample daylight beaming down on it will be suitable for growing herbs. These are a better choice than classic house plants because they serve the dual purpose of looking good and being edible.

Ordering up part-grown herbs and gifting them to a friend or family member is a real stand-out move. Just make sure that the person you intend to make a mini-herb garden for is actually going to use these plants in their cooking. If they aren’t much of a chef, then consider a different angle.

If you need more advice to help with nurturing a herb garden, this video is a great place to get started:


5. A Charitable Donation to a Cause Close to Their Heart

Another tried and tested option for giving a gift to someone who’s conscious about their impact on the environment and not that keen on consumerism, in general, is to make a donation to a charity in their name.

This is adequate in its own right, but it might be worth thinking a little deeper about this and considering a cause that’s specifically focused on eco-friendly work.

There are charities such as One Tree Planted that aim to rebuild ecosystems in parts of the planet where they have been destroyed by human activities. There are also animal conservation charities, and you could even name a critter after your friend or family member as part of these fundraising schemes.

6. Upcycled Furniture

Upcycling is a trend that’s been around for a while now, and it’s a great gifting option, as well as a technique you can use to your own benefit in the future.

All you need is a piece of old furniture, a lick of paint, and a bit of spare time to dedicate to this rewarding project.

You can transform tired-looking chairs, coffee tables, sideboards, and chests without needing to break the bank. Just search for second-hand furniture listed for sale locally; some people will even be giving items away, which really helps if you are on a budget.

This is eco-friendly because you’re rescuing perfectly good items from being disposed of and unique because you can choose to revamp the look according to what fits in with the tastes of the recipient.

Eco-friendly Birthday Gifts - Upcycled Garden Chair

7. Vintage Clothing

Following in the footsteps of upcycling, the practice of picking up pre-loved garments rather than buying new ones is sustainable and on-trend.

Vintage clothing shops have popped up all over the place during the past decade or so, and even a visit to a thrift store could let you unearth some gems from a bygone era.

With the sizable carbon footprint of so-called fast fashion, there’s never been a better time to shun mainstream stores and choose second-hand products instead.

This is another gift category that will suit some people more than others, but there’s always ample choice in good vintage clothing outlets, and looking through the racks and rails is an adventure in its own right.

8. A Performance

Ok, stick with us on this one. It might sound cringe-inducing, but for the right person and in the right context, it can be fun, funny, moving, and unforgettable to rehearse something and perform it for a special person on their birthday.

This can be anything from a short poem to a full play, a sonnet to a song. The point is that by putting yourself out there, you’re demonstrating that you’ve put in the time and effort to make a friend or relative smile.

You can go all-out with a self-penned piece, but it’s also totally cool to perform an existing work, perhaps by an artist that you know they love and respect.

Of course, if you’re not comfortable with the idea of putting yourself out there like this, take a different route because you don’t want to be a bundle of nerves in the run-up. But if you don’t mind being in the spotlight, it’s an interesting opportunity to consider, as well as completely eco-friendly.

9. A Home-cooked Meal

Another gift that’s more of an experience than something tangible is the offer of making a meal in honor of the person who’s turning one year older.

If your culinary skills are on-point, or you’re good at following recipes, then this is another gift that takes value from the effort you put in and the enjoyment you’ll all get out of it.

To make this seriously sustainable, choose produce and ingredients that are sourced as locally as possible, and ideally avoid things like red meats because of the volume of greenhouse gasses that are emitted in their production.

Eco-friendly Birthday Gift - Meal Sharing Between Friends

10. A Montage of Video Messages

Earlier, we talked about turning a photo into a sketch, and you can extrapolate other ideas from this one, including the creation of a video montage that includes messages from people who mean something to the recipient.

This is a process that you will need to start planning for several weeks ahead of schedule since it will take a while to contact every one and for them to then record and send in the clips.

Luckily it’s easy to stitch together videos into a montage and add your own music, even with a mid-tier modern smartphone. You can always ask a tech-savvy associate for assistance if you’re new to this.

Video montages are particularly well suited to big birthdays, such as when a person is moving from one decade of their life into a fresh one. But really they can be used for even minor celebrations and they will always be unique, eco-friendly birthday gifts. 

Wrapping Up on Eco-friendly Birthday Gifts

The bottom line is that with a bit of thought and planning, picking unique and eco-friendly birthday gifts is more than possible today.

If you’re still undecided, our FAQs will fill you in on a few unanswered questions and give you the impetus to get cracking with your gift-giving!

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a birthday gift eco-friendly?

It is difficult to find a simple answer to this question, as there are different degrees of sustainability, and if you’re buying any product that’s marketed as eco-friendly, it’s worth researching the manufacturer to ensure that it’s up to scratch. Check out the guide for some eco-friendly birthday gift ideas.

For a guarantee of a gift that’s environmentally sound, choose the homemade options mentioned above.

I’m not a creative person; how can I get a unique gift?

Lots of us don’t feel like we’re good at creative gift-giving, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as your talents certainly lie elsewhere. The solution is to outsource the creation of meaningful, memorable gifts to professionals who know what they’re doing. Whether you hire a photo editing specialist online from a freelancer site or you order bespoke furniture from a local craftsperson, there are ways to offload the hard work while achieving the same end result. Check out the full guide for some great eco-friendly birthday gift ideas.

Do I need to get a gift at all?

More and more people are choosing to ask that friends and family forgo gift-giving on their birthday altogether, often because of the environmental concerns we’ve covered. It’s sensible to respect their wishes if this is the case, but do try to make them feel special however you can. Spending time together is the greatest gift, after all, and some of the ideas on this list are great for those who do not want a physical item gifted to them.


Fast Company: Why It’s Better To Give Experiences, Not Things

The Conversation: How to Make Holiday Gift-giving Eco-friendly

The Minimalist Vegan: A Minimalists Guide To Gifting Experiences

Get cutting-edge Climate Solutions Delivered to Your Inbox

The climate tech essentials. Bite-sized monthly updates for busy changemakers.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Scroll to Top