Eco Friendly Stocking Filler Ideas

Updated: 23rd November 2023

You’re trying to make this years stockings a bit more eco friendly and sustainable, I hear you! Hopefully this list of 10 eco friendly stocking filler ideas will help you out.

A square gift wrapped in brown paper and tied with natural coloured twine with a bow in the centre is sat on a white surface at an angle. There is rosemary under the bow and a round white card with the words "Merry Christmas" written in black.

I may be the odd one out here but stockings full of stuff fill me with a bit of dread. The idea that nearly every household this Christmas will have a stocking for each member of the family, filled with bits and bobs that we don’t need is my idea of a nightmare.

The Facts

Did you know that an estimated 21 million people in the UK and 154 million people in the US receive unwanted gifts at Christmas? We really need to do something about these numbers. Especially since 44% of people in the UK said they look forward to spending time with family and only 4% said they look forward to presents.

It seems we need to let go of traditions that no longer serve us and switch our priorities to focus on family instead. However, Ii you’re still thinking to give gifts this year then there are a couple of things we can do to make this a bit more environmentally friendly. Stick to items that we know will be used or eaten and ask questions.

Ask Will They Use It?

How do we know if they will use it? It shouldn’t be about whether we like the gift but if they will. Really think about what they like and if you’re not sure, ask them. There’s no point buying them a sewing kit if they’re not interested in mending or buying a bunch of metal, reusable straws if all they drink is tea. This still counts as waste even if the item is an eco friendly product.

Don’t feel comfortable asking? I know it seems odd because traditionally it’s meant to be a surprise but that’s how most gifts become waste. Try and take note of things they say, actually write them down, they may give you some hints throughout the year :)

10 Eco Friendly Stocking Fillers

Here is a list of items that I find are good zero waste options for stocking fillers that will most likely be used or eaten.

  • Experiences

    Number one on the list needs to be experiences. This is the ultimate stocking filler idea in my opinion. I would choose this over any gift. Spending time with people is so much more important than focusing on things. It can be anything like going for a walk in the woods, doing a workshop together, having a picnic, going camping, take them out for dinner to their favourite restaurant, go to the cinema, anything that fits in with what they like and your eco friendly values. You could even make a small card from reclaimed materials or an old Christmas card and write a note on the inside of what the experience is to put it in their stocking.

  • Something Edible or Drinkable

    This can be either homemade or bought but be sure you know it is something they like eating. In my opinion the best edible item is jam because most people like it and eat it :) It’s easy to make at home, you could buy a bulk amount of reduced fruit at the supermarket and save up your empty jars throughout the year to take that extra step for zero waste and make a few jars to give out. Choose a popular locally available fruit too.

  • Plants or Seeds

    Another great option is plants or seeds. Choose a plant that is easy to look after like an Aloe Vera or Spider plant so there’s no extra effort needed on their part and see if you can find them from somewhere like Facebook Marketplace or a local plant grower, ones that have been propagated locally rather than buying imported ones. Seeds for flowers are great because they can just be scattered in the garden at the right time of year and left to grow.

  • Favourite Recipes

    Keep traditions alive by gifting your favourite recipe or a recipe which has been passed down through generations to you. Such a simple gift that can bring up so many wonderful feelings.

  • eGift Cards

    This is my second favourite idea, right after experiences, because they are the most likely to be used. It needs to be an eGift card for a shop that the recipient likes. eGift cards are sent via email which means there’s no plastic waste.

    Similar to the experience idea, you could make a small card and write the code on the inside to add it to their stocking. This way you know they will choose something they like and will definitely use it.

    P.S. I just launched the byGoldeberry eGift Card which can be spent on anything in the shop, including crochet patterns.

  • Second Hand Books

    There are so many second hand books around. If you’re buying for an avid reader then this is perfect. Look around locally either online or at a garage sale or in charity shops. There are hundreds to choose from.

  • Zero Waste Products

    If you’re here reading this then you’ll know that there are plenty of zero waste products out there to choose from but again be sure that they will use it. Not everyone is in support of zero waste and buying someone who’s not so interested a set of produce bags defeats the whole point. But if your recipient is moving towards a low waste life then most of my made to order items would fit perfectly into a stocking, just saying :)

  • Socks

    Pretty much everyone wears socks. Choose a pair from a sustainable company who do good. I like Rapanui socks.

  • Soap

    The same with soap, most people will use it up somehow. If they don’t want to use it in the shower they will most probably use it for washing hands. You can’t go wrong and they fit well into a stocking. Be sure to find a local handmade soap maker to support.

  • Lottery Tickets

    Can you imagine how amazing it would be if you won the lottery at Christmas! I think most people would love this as a gift. Make sure to buy a regular paper lottery ticket and not the scratch off kind. Scratch offs are usually made of paper, plastic and tin and so they cannot be recycled.

  • Donation to Charity / Adopt an Animal

    My final idea is instead of buying something, give money to charity or adopt an animal. Of course, it needs to support something that the giftee is passionate about. There are plenty of charities who would appreciate the money at this time of year and plenty of animals who need our support. Research into the charity beforehand and make sure they are doing good work.

As always, if you have more eco friendly stocking filler ideas, let me know in the comments.



More Sustainable Living Tips

Tina Rinaudo

Tina is a passionate zero waster and crocheter who aims to live and crochet as sustainably as possible. She has been crocheting since 2016 and specialises in using sustainable yarns to design zero waste crochet patterns to make easy swaps for yourselves and your homes. She has been featured in Happily Hooked Magazine, and many other websites for her eco friendly crochet patterns.


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