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Eco-Friendly White Elephant Gift Ideas

Are you invited to a white elephant gift exchange this holiday season? If you strive to live a low waste or eco-conscious lifestyle, a white elephant gift exchange can feel like a minefield of opportunities for waste. Check out this list of fun and eco-friendly white elephant gift ideas that won’t leave with you a guilty conscience. 

Each year, my sisters and our significant others exchange gifts. In the past, we’ve drawn names and each bought a gift for one other person. I’m not sure who suggested the change, but this year we’ve decided to do a white elephant gift exchange. 

If you’re not familiar with this type of gift exchange, you can check out all the rules and modifications at length. In short, each person buys a relatively inexpensive present, gifts are opened one at a time, and everyone has an opportunity to steal gifts from others. Figurative bonus points go to those who bring funny gifts to the game. 

By definition, white elephant gifts are supposed to be either entertaining or novel to a broad audience. I won’t argue the merits of funny trinkets versus fastidious environmentalism, but if you’re looking for ideas for white elephant gifts that might not end up going straight to the trash, consider this list of eco-friendly white elephant gifts. 

Maybe we can meet in the middle with some useful, eco-conscious gifts that also warrant a handful of laughs or a war of trades because they are so darn cool.

Eco-Friendly White Elephant Gift Ideas

Box of Who Gives A Crap Toilet Paper

Everyone uses toilet paper, right? Who Gives a Crap toilet paper is made of recycled paper and comes with no plastic packaging and even comes in holiday-themed wrapping. Speaking of upgrades to your bathroom, I shared more about WGAC toilet paper and a bunch of other ways to spice up your powder room to save the earth

Green Dreamer Planner

Help someone get the new year started off right with the Green Dreamer planner that’s perfect for organizing their day and also remembering to prioritize Mother Nature. Isn’t this cover gorgeous?!

Ice Cream Topping Trio

An ice cream-turned-fudge maker crafted three all-natural, all-decadent toppings to pour over ice cream (or anything you want). Handmade in the United States, the creator also works with the employment training program Working Opportunities for Women to bring his products to market. Bonus: Glass jars you can reuse and no ingredients you can’t pronounce. 

Lottery Tickets

Pretty sure everyone will fight over these! Some lottery tickets can be recycled (though not all of them). Even if they can’t be recycled, they’re a fun gift and don’t create much waste. 

Million Waves Keychain

Buy a keychain and fund a prosthetic limb, made of recycled plastic removed from the ocean, for someone in need. That’s a serious win-win from a non-profit organization tackling medical and environmental needs with one solution. 

Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag

If only all of our single use plastics could turn into glass?! That may be wishful thinking, but this glass zipper bag is super cute and a humorous conversation starter about the plastic polluting our world.

Pumpkin Garden Grow Kit

Plant your pumpkins and play “pumpkin roulette” with a mix of seeds that grow into classic orange, white, and/or blue pumpkins. After growing indoors for a bit, plant the entire pot and seedlings in your garden and watch the pumpkins grow!

Solar-Powered Mason Jar


Mason jar meet solar power. Every eco-conscious girl or guy’s dream. Topped with solar panels, this jar creates 12 hours of convenient, cord-free, clean-energy lighting.

Drink More Water Bottle

Most of us could use an extra reminder or two.. or three.. to drink more water. Why not let the water bottle do the talking?! And it’s reusable so your recipient no longer needs those pesky plastic water bottles.

Secondhand Board Games & Puzzles

No one said white elephant gifts had to be brand new. Stop by your local thrift shop and pick up a puzzle or game. Most shops have plenty to offer!

With a little creativity, you don’t have to compromise on gifting something you love that others will also like and put to good use. 

For my family’s gift exchange this year, we opted for a “books and board games” theme. Do you think they’ll care if their board game comes from the thrift shop? Because there’s a pretty good chance that will be the case. 😉 

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