Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Broke Millennial You Love

by - Saturday, December 15, 2018

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Broke Millennial You Love

So you love someone in their 20's who is just getting started in the world. Except, they are really having trouble taking off. 

People love talking about this generation. We are killing Applebees and fabric softener.

We are a generation that is crippled with debt. We are significantly poorer, thanks to school loans, the increased cost of living, and the lack of well-paying jobs. More of us live with our parents, fewer of us are getting married or having kids, and have a whole host of stress from our school debt.

And for goodness sakes, that's not even the end of the bad news! We are also one of the first generations to really see the effects of climate change, a monster mostly created by the generations before us. And we can see that things are quickly going to get much worse, so we as individuals need to make our voices heard by governments and businesses.

So this is where I stop being a downer. There is plenty of reason to be hopeful here. Because you can help. When you go to shop for the millennial you love this year, you can help them with some of the stuff that truly sucks when you are broke. At the same time, you can help take care of the future and fight Climate Change by refusing to support big business crappiness and instead buying environmentally-responsible items. Here's how:

1. Buy Less Stuff

Some of the best gifts are immaterial- consider experiences or even money towards school loans as excellent gifts, and they won't waste fossil fuels being shipped across the world or create new plastic waste. 

If you are going to buy them a gift, buy one great thing, not loads of not that high quality stuff. Overconsumerism is a key factor in Climate Change, and it is a habit we can all break. Start here. 

2. Buy Secondhand

Know someone just starting out in an apartment? Go get them a secondhand bookshelf! Or a secondhand set of Corelle dishes (those things don't break). Get them a fun, weird afghan from the blanket section or a set of chairs and a table.

Secondhand options are CHEAP (while often being higher quality), basically endless, and they are expontentially better for the Earth. Secondhand purchases keep objects out of landfills, cut down on plastic packaging, and keep your money local. 

3. Buy Local. 

If you want to get them something good, get something that is made near where they are. For us, that means Made in America. It might mean something different to you. But the key is if you are choosing between an item made in China or an item made here, you are always better off buying local. Plus, you may be helping a small company hire another poo 20-something! 

Ok, you ready? We can do this: 

gift ideas for millennials help pay off debt

1. Pay off Some Debt

Yes, I am NOT kidding. Whatever money you are going to budget toward their gifting, just give them towards school loans. We know that isn't very glamorous, but it will actually help them. Every little bit can help them get their head above water, and a life without debt is a lot more desirable than a new sweater or fuzzy socks.

Obviously, you have to be close enough to the person to know their situation, but you could offer to help payments toward their debt or their bills. It doesn't have to be tons of money to make a difference. Just feeling like a little progress has been made can be a great gift. 

giant pile of carrots gift ideas for millennials

2. Grocery Gift Cards

Worried how your millennial is eating? Help them be able to afford more real produce and good food by gifting them grocery cards.

Another option? You could get them a membership to Imperfect Produce or another local co-op box. It cuts down on waste but still gets them healthy, organic produce to eat. The smallest Imperfect Produce box is 15 dollars a week, so if you did their every other week option, that is still expensive for a one-person gift (390). But if you go together with other people, it could be the perfect thing!

bar soap gift ideas for millennials

3. The Practical Stuff- Reusable or In Bulk

When you don't have much money, you don't often have anything left for the fun stuff. Instead, most of your money goes to the practical stuff like garbage bags and toilet paper. Leave them some fun money and take the basics off their shopping list. It may seem like a lame gift, but it may take some pressure off that they didn't even realize they were feeling. 

Best case scenario, you can get them reusable napkins and unpaper towels (but it depends on their laundry situation). 

For Cloth Napkins (truly, super easy and cute)- Oh Little RabbitJAQStudio, and Clear Sky Home

The bright side is that you can also get eco-options in bulk that take care of their future too. Here are my favorites: 

For Brooms/ Dustpans- This broom and Redecker Dustpans
For Tissues- Green Forest Facial Tissues. You can get them in so much bulk that it will last them for years, though they may not have room to store them.
For Toilet Paper- Tushy toilet paper, Who Gives a Crap has recycled and bamboo
For Trash Bags- Earthsense Recycled Bags. Do NOT buy biodegradable (it just breaks the plastic into tiny microplastic pieces)- if you are going to do plastic, do recycled. 
For Sponges- marley'smonsters and Full Circle 
For Tupperware- Anchor Hocking makes glass food storage in smart sizes, especially theirTrue Seal line. Pyrex also has Tupperware alternatives that are safer, cleaner, and made in America.
For Swiffer Pads- thecountryoakShadyCreekFarmNC, and WoodandYarnBarn.

Not enough??? Try SOAP!!! Specifically, bar soap. Find a soap maker near you and buy them some local soap to get them through the year. 

swimming in austin gift ideas for millennials

4. An Experience they Love

Have a rock climber you love? A hiker? A paint and sipper? Why not plan a special day together where they can just do the thing they love (but maybe can't often afford). Or it can be a fun picnic and a swim if you are also broke! It doesn't have to be expensive, just fun.
This can be great for anyone who spends way more time adulting than having fun, but especially great if even buying movie tickets can seem like too much. 

5. Amazon Prime or Netflix

My dad would buy this for my brother for Christmas, and I think it was a huge treat. You can set them up to have some entertainment (and free shipping if that is their deal), without buying into the ad-riddled terribleness of cable. The basic subscription to Netflix is only 8 dollars a month, so it is pretty affordable. 

first apartment air mattress gift ideas for millennials

6. A Mattress Topper, Great Blanket, or Good Sheets

How many of us starting out were sleeping on a futon or old mattress on the floor? That can really suck! Helping someone spruce up their bed can help them have more restful nights and a generally better life. Sleep is just the best- if you want to be a person's favorite, help them get good sleep!

For Blankets- Make something! My most precious and loved objects are blankets my grandmothers made me. A fuzzy blanket or something crocheted would be a treasure.

If not, you still have cool options. Here are some of my favorite made in America gems- FaribaultEighth GenerationPendleton , and American Made Dorm and Home

For SheetsCozy Pure and Holy Lamb Organics

For Mattress Toppers- Look out for ones with fewer synthetic materials and more natural ones. There are actually TONS of options for this out there (most mattress companies make their own, many of which still manufacture in the US), but I like these ones if you are in a hurry: 

7. An Uber or Lyft Gift Card

If your 20-something is still going out, a safe ride home could be the best gift for them. It is also a treat for things like coming home from the airport or even that day where they miss the bus to work. 

potted plant gift ideas for millennials

8. Potted Plants

I know, this sounds crazy- everything else on this list is a necessity, but a plant is frivolous! And what if they can't even keep it alive?

It turns out that potted plants are deeply important for mental health and for having clean air. Some plants are recommended by NASA for air filtration, so they can really positively effect the air they breath.

If you think they would be all about it, a great basil plant will make everything smell amazing and provide them fresh herbs year round. I honestly think potted herbs is the perfect gift, because it just does so many beautiful things for their life at once. 

9. A Great Water Pitcher and Reusable Bottle

One of the habits we all need to break, no matter what generation we are in, is using disposable bottles and coffee cups. Such a simple switch if you have the right tools, but not everyone does. So let's go through your most eco-options (though anything reusable is a big step up from one-time use.

Water PitcherSoma Water pitcher is made with green practices and has a coconut/plant based filter (which you can get on a subscription system- so smart). It costs 40 dollars, and some of its proceeds go to providing clean water in areas that don't have it. My other recommendation would be Aquagear, though it is still pretty plastic-y. 

Water Bottle- My favorites are Liberty Bottleworks (metal and super similar to Klean Kanteen, but made in America) and Lifefactory water bottle (glass, made in France, and surprisingly tough). If you do want a plastic bottle, I recommend these pretty large Nalgene bottles. They are BPA-free and made in America, plus they carry a lot of water.

seconhand furniture gift ideas for millennials

10. Secondhand Furniture

If they are just getting started, they may not have everything they need in their space. Just ask what they are still wishing that they had (or what has already broken). So much of that stuff could be on sale at a secondhand store near them (or on Ebay or Craig's List). You could get them something you could never afford new that is still in perfectly great condition.
Also great? Hand me downs! Every piece of furniture in this picture was a hand me down from my mother. And we loved it. You could make it special for them by painting it in their style. If you don't have what they need, check with your Buy Nothing group too! It doesn't have to cost a penny to be an amazing gift. 

A generation from now, they are all going to be in awe that we used to buy so much stuff new. 

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Broke Millennial You Love stressed reindeer

What is the best gift you got when you were starting out? Or what gift could you really use? By shifting away from the idea that gifts have to fit into a certain box, we can help and love each other in so many wonderful new ways!

Want more gift ideas? We have thousands! Check out the Green and Easy Gifts Page for sustainable gift ideas for everyone on your list. If you want more holiday ideas, check out the Green Family page.

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  1. Lol, funny but so true. Great list you have here. And I think it's not only for millennials, I think for all who are trying to save up.

  2. Love your reusable ideas and also water bottles! And I truly do wish people gave more experiences as presents, especially for those who don't get to experience a lot. Great ideas!



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