Sustainable Gift Guide

knoxfill gift bags

Sustainable gifts can be just as big or small, practical or fun, and classic or funky as any other gift! We’ve compiled this Sustainable Gift Guide to help you shop sustainably this season. And the holidays aren’t the only time you can gift sustainably – put these ideas into practice for birthdays, anniversaries, and any other celebration!

1. Gift a sustainable alternative to something useful!

The best gifts are ones that people will actually use – and REuse over and over again! We have hundreds of zero waste products and refills both online and at our store in South Knoxville. Find some of our favorite low-waste stocking stuffers below!

stuffed stocking

2. Gift a thrifted item!

Thrift store gifts are underrated. Hear us out – just because something doesn’t have a fancy tag or original packaging doesn’t mean it can’t be a great gift for someone! 

You can find decorations, dishes, cookbooks, art supplies, vintage records, games, collectibles, clothing, accessories, and more at thrift stores all around town. Our Secondhand September blog includes a list of secondhand shops and sellers in Knoxville. Looking for vintage specifically? Check out our vintage highlight on Instagram (below).



Friends with hikers, bikers, or outdoor enthusiasts? Outdoor Gear Revival might be the perfect spot to find gifts! Bookworm in your life? Gift a used book from Union Ave Books or Addison's Books in downtown Knoxville, Southland Books and Cafe in Maryville, or McKay’s on Papermill!

 3. Gift an experience!

Who doesn’t love an experiential gift? You can go big with a weekend getaway or ski tickets, or you can do something smaller like an ice cream date or movie tickets. Below are some experiential gifts for all the unique people you love.

  • Pottery class
  • Concert tickets
  • Dinner date
  • Rock climbing pass
  • Candle making class
  • Hiking trip
  • Ice skating 
  • Bowling 
  • Spa treatment
  • Camping trip

4. Gift a locally made item!

If you love giving and receiving unique, locally made gifts, then you’re in the right place! Knoxville is known as the Maker City for a good reason – we have SO many talented local makers. It’s next to impossible to try to list all of Knoxville’s makers, but we have a list of some local shops and December markets below that carry locally made items. Plus, The Maker City created a Holiday Gift Guide featuring dozens of local makers.



5. Gift a homemade or locally made treat!

Food – as long as it’s not wasted – is a great sustainable gift option. And if you’re friends and family are anything like us, then they would love to munch on some holiday treats! If baking isn’t your thing, then order from a local bakery. Some of our favorite local bakeries are below, and many can make vegan or allergen-friendly goodies if you ask! 

Vegan Bakeries

Gluten Free Bakeries

Other Edible Gifts

  • Kombucha (homemade or from Frog Juice Kombucha)
  • Jams and salsas
  • Homemade spice blends
  • Hot chocolate or brownie mix in a jar
Delicious pastries from Frauleinwunder Bakery
sokno sourdough starter kit
Sourdough starter kit from SoKno Sourdough

6. Gift trading (think Secret Santa)!

Have a group of family or friends that always swaps gifts during the holiday season? Ask them to consider gifting Secret Santa style this year. Everyone draws a name, and each person buys one gift for the person they received. Now each person is only buying one gift and receiving one gift – this helps reduce overconsumption, waste, and gift-buying pressures! (And you can use our ideas above to give a sustainable gift!)

7. Agree to not trade gifts!

Maybe you don’t need anything this year, or maybe a loved one told you they don’t need anything. Agreeing not to trade gifts may be the most sustainable (and affordable) option this holiday season, and it reduces the pressure that comes with choosing gifts. A thoughtfully written note can be a gift that’s cherished for years to come. If you feel like you absolutely have to give something, then gift mindfully. All of our ideas above are great gift options - and don’t forget about gift cards to local stores. Whether it’s to a restaurant or a favorite shop, gift cards allow people to choose what they want and/or need. (And a lot of places have e-gift card options so you don’t have to get a plastic card!)


However you choose to gift this season, we hope our Sustainable Gift Guide helps you find the perfect gifts for your loved ones while staying true to your sustainability values!

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