A while back, I wrote a post about green anniversary gifts and the one that I gave my love during our first anniversary – poo paper.
Well, it was our paper anniversary!
Not only did she love the green anniversary gift, but it has since inspired me to think of other green alternatives to the traditional anniversary gifts that romance experts – and greeting card companies – say we should give to our better halves during a special occasion like an anniversary.
Of course, if you’re reading this post, then chances are likely you have not forgotten about an upcoming anniversary. Good work!
Now, let me help you find the perfect green anniversary gifts so you can show your loved one just how much you care about them – and our environment, too.
The list of eco-friendly anniversary gifts below displays each of the major anniversaries alongside their traditional anniversary gifts; next to those are the alternative green anniversary gifts.
- 1st Anniversary, Paper – Poo paper, because nothing says “Happy 1st Anniversary, babe!” more eco-consciously than a pad of paper consisting of dung from zoo or farm animals.
- 2nd Anniversary, Cotton – Organic cotton, which – unlike conventional cotton – is grown without the toxic synthetic pesticides that can poison workers and harm water resources.
- 3rd Anniversary, Leather – Believe it or not, if you just have to have leather, it’s actually the more environmentally friendly choice (in the long run) than its faux cousin, pleather. So, why is real leather more eco-friendly than pleather, even though animal hides are used to make leather? The processes of refining leather and making pleather are about as equally destructive to the environment, but leather products last much longer than pleather, so you’ll get more bang for your environmental buck with real leather.
- 4th Anniversary, Fruit or Flowers – Give a basket filled with a beautiful array of organic flowers or fruits from a sustainable farm. Besides, fruit’s healthier than candy!
- 5th Anniversary, Wood – Give your loved one furniture or a sculpture that has been made from reclaimed wood.
- 6th Anniversary, Candy or Iron – Refurbished (recycled!) cast iron pots and pans (which can be used to cook homemade candy) make fantastic green anniversary gifts.
- 7th Anniversary, Wool or Copper – You’ll be glad to know that both wool and copper are environmentally friendly. Copper is completely recyclable and makes a wonderful eco-friendly anniversary gift. Real wool is a durable, organically grown material that wears well and is biodegradable. However, you’ll want to avoid synthetic wool, which is manufactured with manmade chemicals that can harm the environment.
- 8th Anniversary, Pottery or Bronze – While bronze is recyclable (yay!), the use of pottery has raised the eyebrows of some individuals concerned about the environment. The issue is less about pottery (which comes direct from planet Earth) and more about the heating process used to set finished pottery and its glazes. Kilns produce extreme levels of heat, and this can emit carbon dioxide, which many believe contribute to climate change. Stick with bronze gifts for the 8th anniversary and you’ll be sure to please your loved one while making Mother Nature happy, too.
- 9th Anniversary, Willow or Pottery – As mentioned, some associate the manufacture of pottery with climate change due to concerns about the heating process used to bake some forms of finished earthen art. Giving willow baskets and willow furniture is a beautiful gesture, but those items utilize natural resources that could take years to regrow. If you choose to go the traditional route, consider buying gifts made from reclaimed willow wood. Or, why not go out on a dinner date and cap it off with watching the 1949 Disney classic Wind in the Willows?
- 10th Anniversary, Tin or Aluminum – While tin is a fairly uncommon metal, aluminum is the third most abundant on our planet and is completely recyclable. Aluminum gifts, therefore, do relatively little harm to the environment and consist of a material that’s easier to acquire than tin. Consider a jewelry box, tableware, or aluminum vase as just a few suggestions for meaningful environmentally friendly anniversary gifts that are made from aluminum.
- 11th Anniversary, Steel – Did you know that worldwide production of steel may account for up to 5% of greenhouse gas emissions? While you might consider retreading green materials (like reclaimed wood or copper) most commonly associated with other anniversaries, if you are planning to stick with steel, then go stainless. Stainless steel is generally eco-friendly in that it requires little maintenance to keep it looking great, and can be polished with organic cleaners such as vinegar, olive oil, and baking soda.
- 12th Anniversary, Silk or Linen – Silk and linen are classic fabric-based gifts, but if you really want to go green, consider buying fabrics made of bamboo. Yes, there is such a thing as bamboo fabric, and it can be found in everything from tee shirts to dresses — which make great green anniversary gifts!
- 13th Anniversary, Lace – You don’t have to divert from traditional lace to stay environmentally friendly on your 13th anniversary. Some companies now manufacture bamboo charcoal yarn, which goes into the production of eco-friendly lace products, including clothing.
- 14th Anniversary, Ivory – The ivory trade was largely abolished in 1989 on the heels of a plummeting population of elephants, from which tusks were harvested to make items from their ivory. While you can still legally buy vintage ivory items, it’s better to steer clear of buying them whatsoever to embrace eco friendliness. You could still echo the symbolic nature of the ivory anniversary with “vegetable ivory,” otherwise known as Tagua – a nut that grows on Tagua trees in South America. Tagua gifts generally come in the form of jewelry, which includes bracelets, necklaces, and rings.
- 15th Anniversary, Crystal – While crystal is a beautiful material made in a similar manner to glass, it also requires an intense heating process to manufacture it — which could make some individuals concerned about carbon emissions rather uneasy. Instead, you might want to consider buying environmentally friendly quartz gifts, which also undergo a lengthy manufacturing process but utilize recycled materials such as glass, porcelain, and mirror.
- 20th Anniversary, China – Instead of china, which requires an intense heating process similar to other forms of ceramic, consider buying an alternative material like bamboo, which is used for making tableware and can symbolize china-made gifts in that way.
Beyond the 20th anniversary, most materials already associated with the traditional gifts are generally considered environmentally friendly in and of themselves. Still, there are many alternative green anniversary gifts you can buy that embrace the traditional anniversary materials, including:
- 25th Anniversary, Silver – Give tarnish-resistant silver, which doesn’t require harsh, synthetic cleaners to polish like regular silver does.
- 30th Anniversary, Pearl – Buy pearls from sustainable pearl farms.
- 35th Anniversary, Coral – Always go with buying jade instead of coral, which is illegal to buy in the United States, and is a fragile (and vital) part of underwater ecosystems.
- 40th Anniversary, Ruby – As ruby is, itself, generally eco-friendly, consider buying a ruby that’s inserted in eco-friendly jewelry, which doesn’t require synthetic polish — like gold, stainless steel, and tarnish resistant silver.
- 45th Anniversary, Sapphire – Buy sapphires in environmentally friendly jewelry settings (e.g. gold, tarnish resistant silver, or stainless steel).
- 50th Anniversary, Gold – Gold is very eco friendly, as it doesn’t tone much and therefore doesn’t need to be cleaned often.
- 60th Anniversary, Diamond – Diamonds encased in environmentally friendly jewelry settings (gold, stainless steel, or tarnish resistant silver) make timeless eco-friendly anniversary gifts.
I suggest that socially conscious consumers consider lab-created gems. Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds and Diamonds are all made chemically, optically, and physically identical to their mined counterparts, but are not associated with the same negative social and environmental implications … There are ethically sourced, fair-trade, mined gems available. — Meghan Connolly Haupt, Green Your Life