12 brand new gifts made out of recycled materials

Support the circular economy with these eco-friendly finds.

Support the circular economy with these eco-friendly finds

For the holidays this year, I've been trying to buy second hand where possible, especially when it comes to the many plastic toys my young children are asking for from Santa. And while I'm going to be purchasing new items as well for the teachers, colleagues and extended relatives on our list — who'd expect a more traditional (i.e. new and unused) gift — I'm hoping to make lower-impact, slightly more sustainable choices where possible this season. You may be doing the same.

A key consideration for this approach? Looking for great, well-designed gifts made, for the most part, from post-consumer recycled materials, which tend to have a smaller carbon footprint. For example, a 2017 study showed that recycled polyester (rPET) performs similarly to virgin polyester, but requires 59 per cent less energy to produce and creates 32 per cent less CO2 emissions. Similarly, recycled cotton is rated by the Higg Materials Sustainability Index as significantly more sustainable than either organic or conventional cotton, and its use in place of virgin cotton for a single t-shirt can save thousands of litres of water. Buying recycled is an imperfect solution; but, it does support the circular economy, and is one way to participate in seasonal gifting traditions with sustainability in mind. 

Here, 11 gift ideas made with over 50 per cent recycled content.

Reformation's classic crewneck sweaters are made using 70 per cent recycled cashmere. 

Cashmere Crew, $230, Reformation

According to Girlfriend Collective, each pair of the brand's high-rise leggings diverts 25 plastic bottles from landfills. 

Girlfriend Collective High Rise Classic Compressive Leggings, $89, Fieldstudy 

A foam roller meets water bottle combination is winning enough; we love that the base is made from 100% recycled stainless steel.

Grace 27-Ounce Foam Roller Water Bottle, $69.04, Nordstrom

Part of Montreal retailer Frank And Oak's sustainable line, Minimal, this duffle bag is made using 57 per cent recycled polyester.

The Layover Packable Duffle, $69.50, Frank And Oak 

This lightweight, tie-dyed throw is made with 100 per cent recycled cotton. 

Lima Throw, $68 (on sale for $15), Drake General Store

Everlane has pledged to stop using virgin plastic completely by 2021; pieces like this cozy, 100 per cent recycled polyester sweatshirt — made from 32 plastic water bottles — are part of that winning plan.

The ReNew Fleece Raglan Sweatshirt, $63, Everlane

These tights, part of the Adidas x Parley collection, are made of 85 per cent upcycled plastic trash collected from beaches and coastal areas.

Believe This Parley 7/8 Tights, $95 (on sale for $44.98), Adidas

Available in men's and women's sizes, this sneaker features a 100 per cent recycled polyester upper and algae-based EVA-foam sole. 

Men's RPPL Lace-Up Sneakers, $90, Aldo

This limited-edition, 100 per cent recycled-polyester version of the classic Fjällräven backpack is made from about 11 plastic bottles. 

Re-Kånken Bag, $110, Fjällräven

These sculptural glasses, available in three sizes, are hand-blown and made from recycled glass. 

C+L Finds Moroccan Fez Glass, from $11 each, Charlie & Lee

Blacksaw's luxe, fair-trade blankets are designed in Canada and made from 100 per cent recycled alpaca, wool and cotton — the yarn is spun from factory cut-offs that would otherwise be discarded. 

Blacksaw Siempre Recycled Alpaca And Wool Blanket, $398, H Project at Holt Renfrew 

Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.