Eco-Friendly Gift Guide for Teens and College Students

Many people like to criticize the current generation of teens and young adults for being lazy and too self-involved. It’s certainly a popular opinion that all they do is stare at their screens and are only concerned with the proper angle for taking selfies (it’s just a bit higher than your face, in case you’re wondering). But I think it’s actually the youth that are the ones who are opening the eyes of the older generations to some critically important issues facing our world today.

Thanks to my daughter, who graduated college with a degree in zoology but also a certificate in environmental studies, our family has become committed to reducing our carbon footprint more than ever.

Many of the easiest changes to make to help our planet are things we all already know, and hopefully, things many of you already do and use. But as we send our teens out into the world — or at least to the market to grab the groceries for us — send them out with something smart.

Eco-Friendly Gift Guide for the Environmentally Conscious Teens in your Life

Most of the teens and young adults I know are extremely passionate about saving our planet, and rightfully and thankfully so, as they’re the ones who have to clean up the literal mess previous generations have made. Here are gifts they would love.

4 Ocean Bracelets
We love the mission of 4Ocean—to remove the trash from oceans and coastlines—which they fund from the sales of their cool bracelets (made from recycled glass). One bracelet equals one pound of trash removed and they come in a variety of string colors, which support different marine animals you’re helping save. Buy several for a cute stack!



Reusable folding straws with case
When Starbucks pledges to ditch plastic straws (by 2020), you know plastic straw use is a serious issue. You may love the convenience of plastic straws, but sea turtles and other marine life that are dying because of them do not. We’re fans of these reusable straws because they fold up and fit in a little case that you can pop easily into a purse or backpack.

reusable straws
Reusable food storage bags
Retail stores are starting to sell reusable Ziploc bags now, but we love these washable zipper bags for snacks and sandwiches because they aren’t as stiff and hard to wash out, but even better, because they’re pretty darn cute.

reusable bags

Probably the most popular stainless water bottle on the market, and for good reason. We love the variety of colors, sizes and lids, and the tall one fits nicely in the side mesh pocket of a backpack.

hydro flask

Short on space? Try a reusable water bottle that collapses when empty. Genius!

reusable bottle

Reusable Starbucks cups
You’ve probably seen Starbucks selling these in store, but these fun combo packs make great gifts. Pro: Your hot beverage will look cute and save some trees. Con: Your hands may get a bit hot, but just double cup it!

reusable Starbucks cups

Reusable totes
These cute (and washable!) totes are perfect for carrying groceries or all the things you did not send your kid to Target to pick up. We love these because they fold up small and are washable.


Bamboo toothbrush
Ever wonder where old toothbrushes go to die? Nowhere, apparently. Bamboo toothbrushes are the new craze because they are eco-friendly and biodegradable (if you remove the nylon bristles before you compost the handles). Save the planet and your teeth at the same time!

bamboo toothbrushes

Beeswax food wraps
Eco-conscious young adults who are living in apartments will appreciate this smart alternative to plastic wrap. Beeswax wraps are reusable for up to a year. After that, just cut up and compost!

beeswax wraps

Zero waste starter kit
If you’re at a loss as to which of the above items to gift, this environmentally friendly starter kit is perfect!

eco-friendly gift box

You Might Also Want to Read:

15 Favorite Grad Gift Ideas from Uncommon Goods 

About Michelle Newman

Michelle Newman is one of the hosts and producers of The Pop Culture Preservation Society, a podcast dedicated to preserving the pop culture nuggets of our GenX childhoods, from Barry Manilow and the Bee Gees to Battle of The Network Stars. She’s spent the past nine years writing for publications like Grown & Flown, Entertainment Weekly, and The Girlfriend, as well as for her (now silent) blog, You’re My Favorite Today. A recent empty nester, Michelle finds immense joy connecting with others through the memories of their 70s childhoods. Follow the Pop Culture Preservation Society on Instagram and listen wherever you get podcasts!

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