EWG’s 2021 gift guide

It’s hard enough to figure out the perfect gift for some people on your holiday shopping list. It can be more difficult when you factor in a desire to protect the health of your family and the environment by choosing products that don’t include harmful chemicals.

To help, here are EWG’s 16 gift ideas that are good for you and for the planet.

Safe and sudsy

A fancy bar of soap is a great all-purpose gift, perfect for a dinner party host, a gift swap at work or even your favorite family athlete. Choose one from our EWG VERIFIED™ list of soaps made without EWG’s ingredients of concern.

Shimmer on

Teens and tweens love makeup, especially for adding shimmer and shine on special occasions (or even just heading off to school). But this age group is particularly vulnerable to exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals in cosmetics during their development.

Some glitter contains ingredients that have been linked to allergies, harm to the nervous and endocrine systems, and cancer. And some, especially loose glitter powder, are made from plastic. Check ingredients labels for artificial colors, or visit our Skin Deep® database to find safer products that shimmer. You can also consult our “Top Tips for Safer Products.”


If your loved ones live far away and need to travel to see you, consider giving them a piece of sustainable luggage. There are many options that use recycled materials and organic cotton that are both functional and attractive.

Just make sure to double-check that your purchase doesn’t use BPA or the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. Both can cause numerous serious health harms. To find the right products, the Good Trade created a handy guide to seven sustainable luggage brands.

Drying out

Enthusiasts of the great outdoors on your list love all their special gear. Many of these products have been treated with PFAS, which give the gear its water-repellent qualities but expose the wearer and contaminate the environment.

Many manufacturers are now making rain gear without PFAS. Consult this list of PFAS-free products which also identifies shoes, clothing and other products that don’t contain PFAS.

Veggies galore

Whether you’re shopping for a seasoned vegetarian, the vegetarian-curious, or someone just looking to incorporate more veggies in their diet, a cookbook would make a great gift!

Check out Simply Delicious Vegetarian, by Carla Bardi – a recommendation from EWG staff member Geoff Horsfield – and another EWG favorite, The Earthbound Cook: 250 Recipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet, by Myra Goodman.

Hat’s off

It’s so easy to lose a wool hat that a cute new one makes a great gift. How about making it an organic wool hat? Look for hats using wool certified by GOTS, the organization that verifies textiles are processed without toxic dyes and treatments. Department of Agriculture organic certification for wool used in hats and other clothing also requires that sheep not be treated with synthetic hormones or medicine or exposed to synthetic pesticides.

Reusable straws

Reusable straws remain a popular gift. Choose ones made of stainless steel, bamboo or glass for a present that cuts down on waste and is a healthier choice than straws made with plastic, which can contain harmful chemicals, like PFAS, that leach out. You don’t want to put that in your mouth.

Facial hair care

Cold weather can leave your skin feeling tight and dry, and it can also affect facial hair in the same way. Give your bearded friends and family the gift of conditioned facial hair with a beard oil or beard care product. Use EWG’s Skin Deep® cosmetics database to find a safer option.

A better board

Charcuterie boards are still a big trend when it comes to entertaining with snacks. A special board, tray or platter for assembling a charcuterie board makes a great gift. This serving board even shows you exactly where to put all of the ingredients. And why not include a printout of our tips for building a safer, healthier charcuterie board?

Green thumb

This year, the company that manufactures the cancer-causing weedkiller Roundup agreed to stop selling it for residential use by 2023. This list of 50 books on organic gardening covers a range of topics, including composting, soil management, pest control and growing vegetables. One of them is sure to delight the gardener on your shopping list.

Wired headphones

Wireless headphones are on just about everyone’s wish list this year, but according to a Consumer Reports study, wired headphones have better sound quality than wireless choices. Recent research by EWG staff also suggests wired headphones are safer for you and your family.


Slippers might have become your favorite everyday footwear during the pandemic. Give your loved ones a pair that are lush, warm and made of sustainable material. Choose sustainably sourced wool and organic cotton for cloth ones. If you choose a product with a hard sole, look for natural rubber.

A basket of beans (or anything else)

Funny how the most prosaic of things becomes a lovely gift when arranged attractively in a basket.

Take beans, for example – a climate-friendly, inexpensive and healthy source of protein. They became a hot commodity early in the pandemic, frequently selling out in grocery stores. One company’s bean club even amassed a waiting list of 35,000 people. You probably won’t get off that wait list in time for the holidays, but you can still give a bean-filled present.

Buy a pretty basket and include a variety of interesting beans – organic if possible – and maybe some hot sauce or interesting herbs or spices. Print out some of your favorite recipes to include, or add a cookbook to the gift basket.

Rechargeable hand warmer

If you’re buying a gift for someone living in a climate that gets cold during the winter, consider a rechargeable hand warmer. It helps reduce waste by replacing disposable hand-warming options, and is a gift that people of all ages can enjoy.

Smells like …

Perfume and cologne are some of the ultimate great gifts – one of those things you never need but would probably love. Many people don’t know that the “fragrance” in most of these products is a mix of potentially thousands of chemicals hiding under the vague umbrella term. It might include chemicals like phthalates and artificial musk that are linked to negative health effects.

Enter the very first EWG VERIFIED™ fine fragrance, Henry Rose. The brand’s fragrances are gender neutral and bear quirky names like Windows Down and Dark Is Night. Best of all, they’re free from EWG’s chemicals of concern and meet our strictest standards for your health.

The gift of doing good

Consider donating in someone’s name, or donating to give yourself or someone else EWG’s 2021 Gift Box. This year the gift box contains a fantastic assortment of products designed to up-level your healthy living during the holiday season and beyond.

Whether you donate for the box or not, it’s a win/win situation. You support a worthy organization. We continue our groundbreaking research and advocacy. And if you donate for the box, the lucky recipient gets a treasure trove that includes two books, four stainless steel pint cups, and a bunch of other goodies, all for a donation of $135.

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