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With the holidays rapidly approaching, we want to offer some sustainable and fulfilling alternatives to the Black Friday circus! A few members of our team took some time to write about how they spread holiday cheer. Meet the people who put this list together by visiting our staff page!

Jump to the Sustainable and Local Goods Section

Gifting Non-Material Goods

Gifting an experience not only takes the place of a material item (that might be thrown away or returned), but it also provides bonding time between you and your loved ones. I especially like giving these gifts to people whose love language is quality time, as well as people who don’t have a lot of time during the week to get together. Plus, the memories of spending quality time last longer than most physical gifts! Some gifts I’ve given are painting and wine nights, cookie decorating, and even a Zumba class!
Genesee Ouyang, Education Coordinator

See Orange County’s Amazing Marine Life

There’s so much amazing marine life that most people have few opportunities to experience up close and personal. Gifting tickets to a whale-watching tour or the Aquarium of the Pacific is a wonderful way to explore and enjoy our coastal marine life safely and ethically. There are plenty of local tour companies that leave from our nearby harbors, and the Aquarium of the Pacific is a nonprofit, so proceeds are helping to support marine education and conservation efforts.
Michaela Coats, Education Director

Donate to a Cause They Care About

I’m a big fan of donating to a local or national nonprofit that holds meaning for your loved one. It’s a win-win; you can support a good cause while letting the recipient know you share their passions. In addition to strictly monetary donations, several organizations have amazing merchandise shops online and nearby. Some of my local favorites are Pacific Marine Mammal Center, International Bird Rescue, Environmental Nature Center, Newport Bay Conservancy, The Ocean Institute, and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Not only does shopping with them support their efforts, but it’s usually really cool and unique stuff!
Suzanne Welsh, Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteer Together

One of the best gifts I ever received was being surprised by being taken to a “volunteer day,” where we planted trees for a small neighborhood park. I have tried to share the same gift by encouraging those around me to sign up for something fun that gets them out of the house with new people who prioritize the same activities as they do. Even better – do it together! The gift of time and giving back will make a difference for both of you.
Claire Arre, Marine Restoration Director

Learn How to Garden

Learning how to garden gives you quality time with your loved ones and provides resources for you in the long run. With a successful harvest, you’re bound to have produce you can use in everyday cooking. This will also teach you the seasonality of produce, allowing you to understand what will grow the best and the most efficiently in different seasons! Gardening can also lead to even more quality time, as now you’ll be able to use your harvest for cooking and eating together. It’s a win-win-win.
Ives Tejada, Program Support

Have a Kayaking Day

Kayaking together is a fun bonding experience that is very cheap to do. You’ll be able to explore the waterways and possibly see live animals depending on the season! It allows you to be on the water without disrupting the local ecosystems due to the fact that there is no gasoline used, oil, or even sound pollution coming from it! One of the areas I love to kayak is Long Beach with KayakRentals, and I’ve experienced paddling next to moon jellies, turtles, and even dolphins! Definitely a memory my friends and I will remember!
Ives Tejada, Program Support

Admire the Native and Local Ecosystems

Take a stroll around Willow Springs Park to explore and learn about land being restored to its former glory as it recovers from city advancement. Willow Springs Park was once filled with native plants and ecosystems, which was ravaged by development and is now slowly being restored by the city. Their restoration projects create and allow native plants and species to take space and expand. They also have other community organizations in the park, such as Farm Lot 59, that grows flowers and vegetables for the community. Another organization would be Long Beach Community Compost, which uses food and yard waste to create quality compost. That compost is then free to take for anyone!
Ives Tejada, Program Support

Sustainable and Local Goods

Find Unique Gifts at Your Local Markets

Flea markets and farmers markets often have booths where handmade merchandise is available. Shopping locally gives direct profit to vendors and small business owners! Flea markets always tend to have vendors with lovely custom jewelry!
Johanna Ramos, Inland Empire Waterkeeper Education Director

Cotopaxi Bags and Apparel

Greenwashing is so common with apparel brands that it’s hard to sift through all the false claims. Cotopaxi is one of the few companies that “walk the walk.” Nearly all their products are made using excess fabric from other outdoor apparel companies’ production runs. They also offer lifetime repairs, a trade-in program, and carbon-neutral shipping, though you can easily find their gear locally at REI and Gear Coop. Personally, I have the Camaya satchel and love it!
Matt Sylvester, Communications Director

Second-Hand Goods

Nothing is sweeter than knowing someone spent the time to find you something you will love while thrifting. Truly these gifts are “diamonds in the rough.” Beyond our wonderful markets (2nd Street and Buffalo Exchange being nearby), there is also ThredUP, an online thrift and consignment store. My personal favorite for a “wow” are Patagonia Worn Wear and The North Face Renewed. Sometimes you can land lightly used jackets for half the retail price, and these items will last your loved ones for multiple years.
Claire Arre, Marine Restoration Director

Native Plant Seeds

For all the gardeners on your list, I recommend shopping at Tree of Life Nursery or the Theodore Payne Foundation. These are hands down the best places to buy native plants around Southern California. Not only can you get wildflower seed mixes at both stores, but you can feel assured that they are sourced locally. This helps ensure genetic diversity in regional populations so, for example, the same commercial strain of poppy isn’t planted everywhere. This is also a safeguard for your plants doing well since the seeds have evolved and adapted to local weather conditions. In addition to plants and gardening supplies, both stores also have super cool merchandise!
Suzanne Welsh, Volunteer Coordinator

Aerwyna Haircare, BeyondGreen Biodegradable Doggie Bags, and Simply Straws

These products are my favorite because they help reduce our reliance on plastic and are made locally! By supporting these small, sustainable brands, you are sending a message to our community that even seemingly small actions can have a great positive impact. Last but not least, these products work! Aerwyna’s Shampoo and Conditioner make me feel like a mermaid, Simply Straws are aesthetically pleasing and comfortable, and BeyondGreen’s Doggie Bags have the certifications to ensure that the product is not utilizing greenwashing tactics.
Dyana Peña, Deputy Director of Programs

Sustainable Alternatives for Everyday Items

I spend a lot of time outside in my personal and professional life. Everywhere I go, you will find me with my reusable water bottle and my plastic-free reef-safe sunscreen. Truly, if the people in your life do not yet have these items, it is your loving responsibility to improve their lives. I love my HydroFlask bottle because it keeps my cold drinks cold or my hot drinks hot, matching what I need for whatever the outdoors throws at me. Also, the color variety is perfect – there is something for everyone. As for sunscreen, consider Raw Elements or Raw Love. Raw Elements even makes baby-safe as well as tinted sunscreen!
Claire Arre, Marine Restoration Director

Ethique Beauty Products

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly haircare, skincare, and bodycare product for yourself or as a gift, then Ethique is for you! Not only are they transparent with their pricing they are also transparent with their ingredients and sustainability. After years of bleaching and dying my hair, I was searching for something to repair the damage. Unfortunately, almost every big-name brand I found was not environmentally friendly. Now that I’m using Ethique products, my hair feels great, and I feel great knowing the product is eco-friendly!
Ives Tejada, Program Support

From all of us at Coastkeeper, we ask that you consider the environmental impact of your holiday shopping. As you can see above, there are numerous ways you can give a great, sustainable gift!

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