Unique and Eco-Friendly Second Anniversary Cotton Gifts

by - Tuesday, February 13, 2018

cotton heart for second anniversary

Happy anniversary! If you clicked on this, you are probably looking for some ideas of what to buy as a gift. I love buying a gift on theme, and this year is cotton, but that theme always seems to lead to the same two terrible ideas- wedding pictures on canvas and monogrammed robes.

How can anyone in the world still be in need of more wedding pictures up in their home?  Maybe for like your tenth anniversary? At some point it gets cute again, but you are definitely not there yet (also in that category- couples t-shirts. It's only cute when my Nana and Poppop do it).

cotton monogrammed robes
from etsy.com

The monogrammed robe wins the lameness award. Please, someone explain to me why monogramming even exists. Whose stuff are you planning on getting mixed up with? Do you think towel and robe robbers won't want yours if the letters don't match up? Why are your initials suddenly seen as fancy and adult? I will never understand why people think this is a romantic idea.

With such lame ideas being the "norm" you might think cotton is a bust, but not only does it lend itself to lots of gift ideas, it is also a very green gift (especially if you really keep to it). For years, chemical companies have tried to improve on cotton fabric- we have seen the polyester suit in the 70's  up until fleece jackets and yoga pants now. All synthetic, and it turns out, all horrible for the environment. Those fabrics, every time they are washed shed little microplastic fibers that travel through our plumbing out into our water sources, and now the water is quickly being filled with these little plastics. Our animals are constantly ingesting them, which means every time you eat fish, you are also eating plastic.

Now, what does that have to do with the triumph of your second year of love?

Wouldn't you like to be an inappropriately happy older couple, still loving each other and having adventures? Me too. It's basically my biggest goal. I want to be the kind of couple who still go swimming. I hate the thought that 50 years from now, the water may be so filled with plastic that we wouldn't want to swim in it, much less drink it. Taking care of the Earth is taking care of our future, and a happy Earth is a happy future.

I try to do it this way- 

1. Experience Gifts- The best things aren't things at all, right? Keep making memories in your marriage and don't bring baggage you don't need with you.
2. Make Gifts- It may seem cheesy, but it isn't. That effort can turn into something really cool.
3. Get it recycled, reused, and plastic free- When you are dealing in fabrics, that means buying natural, not synthetic.
4. Get it local- The shorter your gifts travel, the less fossil fuels they waste.

Shuffle that robeless body of yours over here, and let's do this-

Cotton Experience Gifts

Bouncy House

 Ok, this may seem like a stretch, but cotton balls, clouds, bouncing on a cloud, bouncy house! See, you are totally convinced. Would be pretty damn fun and memorable, and you could dress like a cloud to really sell it. Adults don't have enough bouncy houses in our lives.

The Beach (with new beach towels)

 A lot of the cotton gifts are fabric (surprise!), which sounds pretty boring. But if you come up with a gift that puts your new gift to work, like a trip to the beach with new cotton beach towels, you might be on to something. Looking for eco-friendly beach towels?  Your best bet is to get ones that were made nearby, to cut down on fossil fuel usage. My personal favorite for sheer marketing audacity is Big Ass Towels ("cause we don't want to see what you want to cover"), and you can find them on Amazon. You can also find a whole mix here. These towels are fair trade and organic, and the store is in the US- this store also specializes in fair trade. If organic is more your thing, you can check this link.

(I think this is a cool gift, because people are apt to just buy whatever at the last second for beach towels, but you can do something ethical and meaningful that you will remember in the many, many uses in the future).

A Picnic Blanket (and take them on a picnic date) 

Very similar idea. Except way more budget-friendly for those of us who don't live by a beach. Pack a really fantastic meal and a kite, and make the day amazing. I honestly think we all already own a perfect picnic blanket (is it large, soft, and flat? Can you wash it?), but if you think this could really be your thing, special picnic blankets are out there for your gift (like these beautiful quilts). Check consignment stores first! Someone's old quilt or blanket might be perfect. You could also buy a gorgeous lifetime-lasting blanket from Faribault or Eighth Generation which could keep you cozy in the winter as well.

Cotton Romantic Gifts

second anniversary cotton gift hammock
from Artsano

A Hammock

This is my favorite idea of all of them, because it makes life feel like a romantic vacation, and who doesn't want that? Getting one for your house really encourages the nesting. Or solo napping. Really, I support napping of all kinds. The truest love stories are the ones with naps.

My favorite might be the Do Good hammocks, which are made by a small community in Thailand. The hammock looks great, and you can read more about the good Yellowleaf Hammocks is doing here.

Looking for something made in America? Hatteras Hammocks look like some of the best out there with lots of variety.  Sluice Hammocks are on the sporty/ highwire end, but that might be your thing, and they are completely made in North Carolina. Looking for what is out there? This page is a good pace to start, and everything is made in the United States.

A New Mattress or Fancy Sheets

 I think cotton really screams "the bedroom anniversary" in the least sexy way possible. Like big cotton underwear. This is about comfy sleeping people! It could also be really sexy. Do what works for you. Anyway, this is an opportunity to give that bed in a bag a rest and buy some nice sheets or bed covers like a damn grown up. Splurge on nice sheets and get your bed that much closer to fancy. Some places to try? Cozy Pure, Holy Lamb Organics, or Native Organic Cotton


Definitely pretty high on the sexy scale. I will let the website explain it, but I think it would certainly make a memorable anniversary if you are feeling brave and creative!

Sentimental Cotton Gifts

modern polka dot baby blankets
from hellolittlepinecone

Baby Blankets or Baby Stuff

At our second anniversary, we were about 2 months from becoming first time parents. Obviously, this isn't the case for everyone, but if it resonates with where you are at, there are plenty of cool baby blanket ideas to make a sweet gift. There are tons of options, so look at the Baby Registry for inspiration, but you could try a carrier or a diaper bag as well.  Might be a sweet gift if babies are on your horizon.

Make something elaborate out of cotton balls

 It will cost you a dollar, and I bet you could make some really spectacular hats or something. I am imagining a Doctor Zhivago hat type of thing, but really, the possibilities are endless.

House Cotton Gifts

1888 Mills cotton towel anniversary gifts
1888 Mills towels from Amazon (some are made in America, some are not)

Grown-up Towels

 For quite a while, when real grown-ups came to visit us, they would buy us towels. Hint, maybe? Because of this, we have towels in about five unrelated colors, with varying levels of stains from lots of laundry learning moments and one very harsh face lotion we love (but stains everything). Anyway, the towels give us away as fake adults. If you have the same problem, you could just go get new towels. Just don't get them monogrammed. No one wants your towels, for goodness sake.  Big Ass Towels are my favorites, wildly inappropriate in the best way, and they are made in America.

The other great option is the "Made Here" line from 1888 Mills, which are in fact made here in the United States. Just be careful, because 1888 Mills has a lot of towels, but not too many are actually made nearby.

birch tree cotton napkins from Oh Little Rabbit
from ohlittlerabbit

Cloth Napkins

 There couldn't be a much more practical gift, but we started using cloth napkins a couple of years into our marriage, and now we couldn't do without them. We still have paper napkins for company, but during our just family meals, we use cloth. It makes a lot more sense when we have such messy tiny people eating with us. I figure after years of marriage, we will save some trees. Plus, they have so many cute ones out there and it adds a sentimental touch to your table on even a very casual day. My favorites are from Clear Sky Home and Oh Little Rabbit. A new favorite might be Cute Bright Things

painted kitchen towels with funny puns
from hometalk.com

Fun kitchen towels or aprons

Everyone needs aprons for cooking and all sorts of other stuff-making. They are like the opposite of robes. We got a lot of aprons for wedding gifts (a gentle hint to me or a huge pat on the back to the Boy? I don't want to know), but I genuinely think that getting aprons and making dinner together would be a genuinely fun and easy anniversary date. If you already have a solid army of wearable spill guards, super fun kitchen towels are in the same vein (and you can probably always use more?). Check Etsy for almost endless options. You can also make them!

Braided Rugs

 Braided Rugs last a long time, are easy to clean, can be found in so many color combinations, and I think look really great with so many styles. Better yet, you can make them yourself or find them handmade nearby- some are made of recycled t-shirts and LOTS are made in America like these from mrsginther, King Soleil, and greenatheartrugs. A rug can make an apartment look homey or really finish off a space, so it could be a great cotton gift! The Boy bought me a Capel rug as a big splashy 30th birthday gift (you can find tons of them on LLBean's website OR on Amazon), and it is one of my favorite gifts ever. Beautiful, colorful, and somehow subtle at the same time. My grandchildren might play on that rug. Great gift. 

Practical Cotton Gifts

Sweatshirts or Sweatpants

 Does your loved one need some comfy clothes? Spending a lot of time Netflix and chilling? American Giant makes their stuff in the US, it is actually cut so your love won't look too schlubby, and it will last. Is it more expensive? Yep. But build your wardrobe like you build your relationship- to last (and without a bunch of excess baggage).

T-shirts/ any type of clothing that have nothing to do with your marriage

 In most cases, people can't be naked. Figure out something your partner needs so they won't be naked, and buy them that. As the years go on, you will have fewer chances to do this (I mean, unless you want jewel-encrusted or gold clothing). This could be as practical as cotton underwear or socks from Pact or a little less so. In our house, we shop used, local, and fair trade clothing, and you would be shocked how many good options are out there that won't immediately make people smell incense when they see you. Favorites? Thred Up, Gustin, or My Sister. So many of your favorite stores- zappos, nordstrom, macy's, etc have Made in America areas, and the shorter distances your stuff travels, the better. There are so many, so shop around!

Think about getting a piece that will be timeless or something that they could really treasure. Or socks. I mean, this could really go either way.

Cotton Anniversary Jewelry

modern lace earrings cotton anniversary gift
from whiteowl
cotton rope necklace second anniversary gift
from SakuraPink
cloth necklace second anniversary gift
from MyBeata

Or, if you are somewhere cold, a scarf-

cotton infinity scarf that hides a passport
from PierronDesigns

navy cotton scarf for second anniversary gift
from The Chic Artisan

second anniversary cotton gift ideas

So what did you do for your second anniversary? What are some other good cotton gifts?If you want more wedding and anniversary ideas, check out the Green Wedding and Anniversary page. If you just want more gift and shopping inspiration, check out the Giant List of Shopping Lists page. 

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  1. These are beautiful.. loved all the ideas. Thanks for sharing..

  2. These are lovely ideas. The cotton jewellery looks so cool :)

  3. You have come up with really worth trying ideas. Loved the idea of fancy sheets.



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