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12 Sustainable Christmas Gift Ideas for the Entire Family

Written by NØRDIK TEAM

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Posted on November 19 2018

UPDATED 15 November 2019

The holiday season is upon us! Which means that you’ve got some shopping to do… We know, it can be overwhelming – especially when it comes to finding perfect gifts for your loved ones! But don’t worry. We are here to help!

We’ve rounded up a list of the best (and the cutest) Scandinavian finds, uncovering some of the most unique home decor and accents, sustainable tableware, and eco-friendly textiles and accessories that will make a perfect gift for a wife, husband, auntie, uncle, or the kids! Not to mention, each of these stylish and thoughtful gifts has a design story that will truly impress your environmentally conscious family member.

If the concept of sustainability is new to you, you’ll find everything you need to know right below.

If you have a good grasp of the sustainable lifestyle, go ahead and scroll directly to the gift ideas!

What Exactly is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the process of producing the items that we need in our daily lives in a way that has low impact on our planet and the world’s natural resources.

This type of production is safe and healthy for workers, communities and consumers. It also ensures the well-being of our children and grandchildren and that they will have the same amazing healthy planet to enjoy!

When it Comes to Sustainable Products, Materials Matter

Sustainable products can be simple everyday items that make our lives easier and spark happiness: anything from cushion covers to your favorite coffee mug. What makes them truly unique is that these products are made from natural materials and produced in a way that has minimal negative impact on our environment throughout their lifecycle, or on those who do the producing!

Here are some examples of sustainable materials:

  • Wood. Some sustainable materials, such as wood, are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible forestry practices. Companies who manage these type of forests prohibit clear cutting and respect the rights of indigenous peoples. They also maintain biodiversity and regeneration capacity. Wood is also 10% renewable and biodegradable.
  • Linen. This is one of our favorite sustainable materials, but also one of the oldest and most durable materials used in textiles. Linen is an ecologically friendly choice for many reasons. Linen fabric is made from of the strongest natural fibers – the flax plant. The entire flax plant can be used when it is harvested and it can be cultivated and processed without chemicals. It also requires little water and energy to produce giving linen products one of the lowest carbon footprints!
  • Tencel. Tencel, like bamboo, is another sustainable and eco-friendly material for textiles, and is biodegradable and requires less energy and water than i.e. cotton.
  • Wool. Wool is also a planet friendly natural material and according to the International Wool Textile Organization one of the most recycled fibres.
  • Organic cotton. This is always a better choice than non-organic cotton.

aarikka christmas decorations white grey

We Live in the Throw Away Culture...

Another reason to choose sustainable products is to counter the “throw away culture” trend that is growing globally, yet sadly, no faster than right here in the USA.

Heather Rogers, in her book “Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage”, provides us with some alarming facts on our waste disposal habits:

  • The average American discards almost seven pounds of trash per day.
  • With only 5% of the global population, the U.S. consumes 30% of the planet's resources and churns out 30% of its wastes.
  • Garbage production in the United States has doubled in the last 30 years.
  • About 80% of U.S. products are used once, then thrown away.
  • 95% of all plastic, two-thirds of all glass containers, 50% of all aluminum beverage cans are never recycled; instead they just get burned or buried.
  • The EPA cites that in just one year, Americans generate 236 million tons of garbage. While about 30% of garbage gets recycled or composted, 164 million tons are tossed away.

To put this in context, think about all the ziplock bags you use each year. Glass bottles that didn't make it to recycle. Your pet's wet food cans. Multiplied by your neighborhood. By your state. Not to mention the whole nation… It is time for a change!

lovi small boy decorating christmas tree

Tips on How to Spot a Sustainable Product

1. Material. Choosing natural materials such as wood, glass and natural fiber is a good start, because they are usually sustainable choices.

2. Label. If you want to be sure, become a label reader! Most manufacturers who produce sustainable products are very proud of that fact and will normally put information on their packaging about how their product is made.

3. Certifications. Look for certifications on the packaging that indicated it has been produced in a sustainable way. For example here at NØRDIK, our products and brands have earned following certifications for their products:

  • Program for the Endorsement of the Forest Certification (PEFC). The PEFC is the world's largest forest certification system seeking to transform the way forests are managed globally – and locally - to ensure that all of us can enjoy the environmental, social and economic benefits that forests offer.
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification ensures that the products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.
  • European Masters of Linen is a collective mark, registered by CELC which guarantees excellence and 100% European traceability at each stage of processing. It is available for finished products with a final composition of either pure linen, linen union (cotton warp, linen weft) or a linen-rich fibre content, in the areas of fashion and household textiles.
  • Oekotex standard, making sure there is no harmful chemical residues on the textiles.

4. Transparency. You can also conduct some research online about a product you are interested in and look for all of these things! Brands who take sustainability seriously also provide transparent information, such as yearly reports, to their consumers.

5. Giving Back. Often, responsible manufacturers also will donate a portion of their proceeds towards a non-profit that promotes sustainability and environmental awareness and protection.

teemu järvi jumping fox print inspiration

Our Philosophy: Quality over Quantity

Here at NØRDIK, we believe in responsible and sustainable consumption and production. This is why we only work with brands and designers that share these values. Our goal is that all products offered are a win-win for our customers and the environment:

  • Buy it once, keep it for life, pass it on!
  • Save money by only buying it once.
  • Enjoy the aesthetic and functional perfection of a product designed by award-winning artisans and made to last a lifetime
  • Take pride in the fact that your purchase had minimal negative impact on the environment = you are a responsible consumer!

lovi tea towel christmas inspiration

Our Favorite Thoughtful and Sustainable Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas gifts – what better way to celebrate this most special season and avoid the trappings of the commercialization of the holiday than by purchasing a high quality, functional and lasting gift for that someone special on your list, who will love and cherish it forever! Here are some great Christmas gift ideas for your whole family:

1. For Decorators: Aalto Vase

Every Iittala and Alvar Aalto fan will appreciate this beautifully designed Aalto Vase (White). The iconic fluid form is still mouth blown today at the Iittala factory. Did you know that it takes a team of seven skilled craftsmen working as one to create one Aalto vase? What a perfect gift for your design obsessed family member!

iittala aalto vase white christmas gift idea

2. For Wine Lovers: Essence Red Wine Glasses

If wine is one of your favorite person's hobbies, she or he will absolutely love these award-winning Essence Red Wine Glasses (Set of 2). The Essence glassware is modern and minimal with a thin lip for sipping which is a rare find in lead-free crystal. Pleasing to grasp and handle, these glasses make fine wines even more enjoyable! The mouth-blown Essence Collection designed by Alfredo Häberli, is among the most highly acclaimed glassware in the world and has won the iF and Les Découvertes design awards! The collection also includes white wine, sherry glasses, cocktail bowls, champagne flutes and a decanter.

iittala essence red wine glasses christmas gift idea

3. For the Kids: 3D Wooden Reindeer

If you are in desperate need of finding stocking stuffer ideas for your kids, you have come to the right place. This cute 3D wooden reindeer is one of our favorite gifts to tuck in a Christmas stocking. Lovi products are made in Finland using sustainable birch wood and they comes in various colors, sizes and characters such such as uber cute elves, angels, owls, polar bears and Moomin! You can feel good about these gifts. Since 2009 Lovi has planted over 50,000 trees!

lovi christmas red reindeer stocking stuffer idea

4. Heart-Warming Elves: The Frosty White PAKKANEN Family

Hello, I’m LUMI (snow in Finnish) from the Pakkanen family! The dance of the snowflakes and high drifts of snow make me happy! Handmade in Finland from natural and environmentally friendly materials, these little elves are fantastic gifts for someone who counts down to Christmas all year round, even being more excited about it than their own birthday.

Aarikka LUMI Table Decorations

5. For Mom: SAIMAANNORPPA Blanket

Help your mom kick back and relax by giving her this cozy wool blanket. The blanket is made out of 100% high quality, soft and fine New Zealand woolfiber, spun in Europe according to Öko-Tex standard. Lapuan Kankurit donates part of the proceeds from the sales to the Finnish association for nature conservation (Suomen Luonnonsuojeluliitto) to protect The Saimaa Ringed Seal, an endangered seal living in Lake Saimaa, Finland. Just make a cup of hot tea to go with it and turn on your mom’s favorite show. She won’t be able to resist! Hygge at its best!

Lapuan Kankurit SAIMAANNORPPA Blanket

6. For the Chef: Sarpaneva Cast Iron Pot

For those who love cooking: Sarpaneva Cast Iron Pot. This award-winning design classic has a unique wooden handle and cast-iron body, which makes it durable and functional yet a feast for the eyes. Combining design usability with traditional cast iron pot, the designer Sarpaneva explained that the inspiration came from his blacksmith grandfather.

iittala sarpaneva iron cast pot christmas gift idea

7. For Nature Lovers: Snow Finch by Oiva Toikka

These aren’t your average home decorations. This "Birds by Toikka" mouth-blown Limited Edition Snow Finch tells the story of Nordic nature and pure white snow. Mouth blown at the Iittala glass factory, this one of a kind glassbird is the perfect gift for bird lovers, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts of all types. 

iittala birds by toikka snow finch glassbird christmas gift idea

8. For Someone Special: Gentle Bear Print

Grab one of these Teemu Järvi wilderness themed illustrations and your special, nature-loving person knows you get him or her. Made and printed in Finland using FSC certified sustainable materials, this Gentle Bear print is one of our most coveted items. If the Bear is not your spirit animal, we’ve got you covered. Teemu Järvi’s art features a wide range of animals: Wolf, Fox, Lynx, Frog, Seal, Swan, Roe Deer, Mountain Hare, Siberian Jay, Moose, Reindeer, Squirrel, Raven… You name it. Note: The oak frame with leather string are sold separately!

Teemu Järvi Gentle Bear Print

9. Practical but Not Boring: METSIKKÖ Tea Towel

This fun Lapuan Kankurit "metsikkö" tea towel is perfect for those who appreciate practical and useful gifts. The Metsikkö (forest in Finnish) collection is designed by Matti Pikkujämsä, a talented artist and Finnish illustrator of the year 2019. His unique and joyful art is turned into an everyday useful item, the kitchen towel. The metsikkö towels, available in six different colors, are made of eco-friendly and traceable European linen weaved in Finland. 

Lapuan Kankurit METSIKKÖ Tea Towel

10. For the Fashion Rebel: Marimekko TORNA UNIKKO Bag

We may be biased, but this timeless and durable TORNA UNIKKO bag is a must-have. Whether you are shopping for your mom, your sister, or your wife, this beautifully designed canvas bag will fit just about anyone’s taste. Did you know? The classic UNIKKO (poppy) was created in 1964, after Marimekko founder Armi Ratia publicly proclaimed a ban on flowers in Marimekko prints. Artist Maija Isola defied the order and designed a whole collection of floral patterns that were so fresh and unique that Armi ended up taking eight of them. One of those she accepted was Unikko, the future icon of icons, now in delightful, infatuating new shades. 

Marimekko TORNA UNIKKO Bag

11. For Design Lovers: TAIKA Tableware

Your design loving family member will obsess over the whimsical design and bright tones of the TAIKA Collection (magic in Finnish). Designed by London-based Finnish designer Klaus Haapaniemi, TAIKA inspires imagination and storytelling, bringing some magic into everyday life. Besides the bold and enchanting tableware, the collection includes now matching home decorations. You can’t go wrong with this one! 

Iittala TAIKA SIIMES Collection

12. For Coffee & Tea Lovers: LITTLE MY Mug

"Little My" is small and energetic Moomin character. She always decides herself what she will and won’t do. She is independent and a little stubborn, in the most adorable way! Does this sound like someone you know? Surprise the Little My in your life with a colorful Moomin mug that matches their lively personality. P.S. Thanks to the vitro-porcelain material you can leave your coffee in your mug all day and it won’t stain the mug!

Arabia MOOMIN - LITTLE MY Mug (10 oz)

We are really interested in hearing about any of your experiences with sustainable gifts! Are there some good environmentally friendly gift ideas you would like to add here? Share your comments below!

There is a Story Behind Every Design at NØRDIK. Happy Holidays!

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