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The Sustainable Christmas Gift Guide

The Sustainable Christmas Gift Guide

By Melissa Rappaport Schifman Editor-At-Large
Dec 12, 2018

Making your home more sustainable is a gift that keeps on giving because it will help save money and/or keep your home healthier. Below, we offer a variety of unique gift ideas for all types of people: the Energy Efficiency Nerd, the Water Conservationist, and the Trash Warrior. 

Ecobee Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat
Photo Credit: Ecobee

ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control

The Ecobee Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat is a great way to help take control over the heating and cooling of your home while saving an average of 20 to 25 percent on energy bills. This ENERGY STAR certified device works with several smart devices such as the Apple Home Kit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. In addition, with the Whole Home Voice technology, this product allows you to speak to one of the above-mentioned smart devices to control the thermostat in your home. For example, by simply saying to your smart home assistant, “I´m Away,” your Ecobee Smart Thermostat will automatically lower the temperature in your home to save on energy.  The ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is currently selling for $199 and comes with built-in Amazon Alexa voice service as well as a room sensor, which pairs with your smart thermostat to help regulate the temperature in hot spots or cold spots in the corners of your home. 

FLIR Thermal Image Camera
Photo Credit: FLIR

FLIR Thermal Imaging Camera

Anyone who has seen an infrared thermal imaging camera knows how fun it can be. You can find your cats outside. You can see that people’s noses are colder than their cheeks and foreheads. That’s fun, but it can be useful too. For a home, you can easily see where any air and water leaks are a problem, so you can fix them properly. For example, since insulation is typically installed behind drywall, you don’t know if the installer missed an area—and often areas are missed: around outlet plugs, in corners, near crawl spaces, you name it. And the FLIR camera can find it. The older cameras are very expensive and bulky; the newer version is compatible with mobile phones (and is still pretty pricey, at $269.99 on Amazon, but it’s a lot less than older models). If you want to know where insulation is missing and are not a DIY-er, get your home an energy audit.

Sense Energy Monitor
Photo Credit: Amazon

Sense Energy Monitor

If you take a look at your electric bill, the only thing it will tell you is how much electricity you consume and how much you owe over a one month period. It won’t tell you anything about how you use electricity. Sure, you know that lighting, appliances, and electronics take some electricity to run, but how much, and when? How do you know how to prioritize your efforts in being more energy efficient? The Sense Energy Monitor helps solve this problem by providing insight into how and where energy is being used in your home.  To get started, a licensed electrician will need to install this device onto your electrical panel. You then download the app for iOS or Android and connect the monitor to your home Wi-Fi signal. Over the coming days and weeks, the Sense Monitor will send updates to your phone, letting you know which devices are pulling power in your home as well as revealing trends in your home power use. Besides allowing you to have more control over how energy is being used in your home, this device will send you updates if your oven is still turned on or if the drain pump has been running for several hours. This Energy Tracker Monitor currently costs $299 and will quickly begin to deliver savings by helping you to cut back on your home energy use. 

Looking for something less expensive but along those same lines? The Kill-a-Watt electricity usage monitor, which sells for $15.99, will tell you how much wattage any one appliance uses simply by plugging the appliance into it (and plugging it into an outlet).

Soda Stream
Photo Credit: Soda Stream

SodaStream Fizzi Sparkling Water Machine

Drinking your own filtered water from your tap is one of the best things you can do for your home: it will save money on purchasing drinks that contain water, reduce packaging waste, and keep you healthier. But what about bubbly water? It’s refreshing and can be mixed with so many tasty flavors like orange juice and grape juice. Kids who are not too psyched to drink regular water might happily drink bubbly water, which is much healthier than sugary and diet sodas. With Soda Stream, you can make it at home with your own water, using no electricity, no extra bottles to throw out or recycle, and at a greatly reduced cost per bottle. The Soda Stream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker Bundle on Amazon (in a pretty icy blue color) sells for $109.99 with free shipping. You get the soda stream maker, two carbonating cylinders, three bottles, and zero-calorie natural orange and lime flavor essences as a bonus! Let’s compare the variable costs to a 24-pack of San Pellegrino mineral water (0.5 liters each), which sells for $13.98 on Amazon. Each Soda Stream 60L-carbonating cylinder makes about 60 liters of bubbly water, and each cylinder costs $30, which equals about 50 cents per liter. This compares to $1.16 per liter of San Pellegrino (or a much higher price for the flavored ones)! And, according to Soda Stream’s website, “one SodaStream bottle can help the average family reduce more than 3,700 bottles and cans from our planet.” On top of that, the CO2 cylinders can be recycled. 

Lighting Science Goodnight LED Light Bulbs
Photo Credit: Lighting Science

Lighting Science LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs use only about 10 percent of the electricity compared to incandescent bulbs, but they have suffered a bad reputation because the early models did not emit a pleasant tone of light. The technology has come a long way, though, and now, LED bulbs are an essential part of every sustainable home. Lighting Science offers several different types of LED bulbs for all areas of your home, including the Goodnight Sleep LED bulb for $15.99 and the GoodDay HealthE LED Lamp for $22.99. These unique LED lights are the result of NASA engineers developing an energy-saving light bulb that delivers the perfect amount (and type) of light to maximize the health benefits that come from the light we receive in our homes. These LED lights can potentially help regulate the circadian rhythms of our bodies so that we can stay more attentive and awake during the day while getting a restful night sleep. While other types of artificial light can damage the body, these lights mimic the progression of natural light throughout the day. Don’t let the competing 100-watt product with a lower price fool you. They will cost a lot more to operate and will require frequent replacement.

TomCare Solar Torch Lights
Photo Credit: Amazon

TomCare Outdoor Solar LED Torch Lights

For outdoor lighting, there really is no reason to use electricity. Unless you live in Alaska where the sun does not shine for very long during half the year, you can gather enough sunlight during the day to power a simple solar panel that will offer quality outdoor lighting during the evening. For a decorative look, the TomCare Torch Lights would look great on the edge of almost any patio or driveway. You never need to change a battery, and they will go on and off automatically from dusk until dawn.

Niagara low flow showerhead
Photo Credit: Amazon

Niagara Low flow Showerhead 

Nobody wants a weak shower that trickles a few small streams of water on your head, but showers typically are the third largest water user in the home, after toilets and clothes washers. Before the 1994 federal regulations requiring that showerheads have a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), most showerheads spewed out about 5 gallons per minute. So if you took a 10-minute shower, that would use 50 gallons of hot water—quite a bit of water and energy usage, and probably emptying your hot water tank! So, if you have an older home and have not replaced your showerhead since 1994, you can likely save quite a bit of water and energy by replacing it with a newer one that has WaterSense label—meaning it uses only 2.0 gpm. Better yet, try the Niagara Earth Massage showerhead, which has a flow rate of only 1.25 gpm, and still gets good reviews on Amazon and strong ratings from Consumer Reports.  If you are replacing an old showerhead, you will be saving many thousands of gallons of water by switching over. (Quick math: if your household takes a total of 15 minutes of shower-taking every workday, and you save 3.75 gpm, then you save 3.75 x 15 x 252 = 14,175 gallon per year. At a half-cent per gallon, that’s over $70 per year, not including the energy savings—easily paying for multiple showerhead replacements, and maybe even some faucet aerators!)

Williams Sonoma Compost Pail
Photo Credit: Williams Sonoma

Compost Pail

To reduce the amount of waste that goes in the dumpster, recycling is becoming more and more common—but recycling only applies to paper, plastic, glass, and metal. What about all those food scraps and food waste? Compost it! If you don’t have an outdoor compost pile (or don’t want one), and your city picks up organics, you can start separating out your compost waste—but you’ll need some sort of container. Williams Sonoma’s Full Circle Fresh Air Compost Collector sells for $29.95 and has some nice features: it allows air to flow through, so it doesn’t start smelling within a day or two while sitting on your counter. The lid opens with the push of a button, so it’s easy to fill up, and it’s even made of recycled plastic. 

Coyuchi waffle kitchen towels
Photo Credit: Coyuchi

Organic Cotton Dish Towels

Using reusable dishtowels instead of paper towels dramatically cuts down on the waste of single-use disposable items. And as long as you are going for the fabric option, choose organic cotton towels. Why? Cotton is one of the most pesticide-heavy crops, which damages our ecosystem (you can read more about that here). Coyuchi waffle kitchen towels sell for $48 for a set of six beautiful towels—if your kitchen could smile, it would!

Container Store glass jars
Photo Credit: Container Store

Glass Jars with Chalkboard Labels

How to reduce packaging waste? One of the first things to do to transform your kitchen into a more sustainable one is to start purchasing products in bulk—but you need to be able to store the products in their own containers. Start with these hermetically sealed glass jars from the Container Store, starting at $7.99 for a 25-ounce container. They have chalkboard labels, so you can easily write down the contents and erase it if you switch to another product. Get started with rice, flour, sugar, oats, lentils, and nuts—things you’d typically find in the bulk purchasing aisles. When lined up along a counter or in a pantry, they are much prettier than a row of packaged goods, and add a touch of color to your kitchen! 

Preserve Plastic Plate
Photo Credit: Preserve

Preserve Plastic Tableware

Ok, sometimes you just really need plastic tableware for picnics, kids’ parties, or casual gatherings with a lot of people. Skip the single-use disposable plates and cups and invest in reusable plastic dishware made by Preserve. Preserve’s products are made from 100% recycled plastic (from #5 plastic—the yogurt containers), they can be put in the dishwasher, and they are lightweight, stackable, and sturdy. They don’t crack or warp and come in a variety of colors and sizes. A set of 8 large plates costs $7.25; cutlery (knives, forks, and spoons) goes for $5.65, and 10 cups sell for $5.85. So, for less than $20, you can get a table setting for 8 that will last for years, and you won’t be filling up your dumpster after a party.

Bottom Line

Gifts for a more sustainable home can help you save money, reduce waste, and be healthier—what’s not to love?

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-23T14:21:23+0000

Article by:

Melissa Rappaport Schifman