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Office Life

Welcome Back Employees with these Sustainable Gifts

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Jeff Gapinski

White sign with black letters that says "Welcome Back!"

With every day that passes, we get a little more excited about rejoining our coworkers in the office (and yes, we’re thinking about the office dogs, too). After a tough year away, getting back to business as usual is going to be an adjustment. It might feel like the first day of school after a longer than usual summer where we do our best to navigate our reconfigured workspaces, make some new friends, and figure out where to sit in the lunchroom.

To disperse some of the pre-return jitters, we’ve been thinking about the best way to ease the transition and get our whole team excited about returning to the office. During one of these brainstorming sessions, our wonderful office manager had the idea to welcome everyone back with a sustainable gift.

Snacks, office equipment, team-building experiences and more are all in the running at our office, and as we whittle down our list, we thought we’d share some ideas of eco-friendly return to office gifts in case it’s helpful inspiration for your office manager or HR team.

Work bag made from recycled materials

What’s better than a gift that actually helps everyone get to the office on day one? A bag made from recyclable materials that carries laptops, healthy snacks, and more will come in handy for the whole team.

Mafia’s bags, for example, are upcycled from kitesurf, windsurf, and boat sails, keeping these materials out of the landfill and giving you a sustainable bag with a story.

Reusable water bottle

As a reader of this blog, you already know how important hydration is for you and your colleagues. If you’re already saving plastic at the office with a bottleless water dispenser, why not go the extra mile and save a cup, too?

Brands like S’well and custom specialists like Swag.com offer custom branding and group discounts. Keep in mind that most suppliers have a minimum order of 48 so smaller companies will likely have a few leftover for future hires.

Organic yoga mat

We’ve talked a lot about using the return to the office as a natural time to reset healthy goals. Though not every team will be doing yoga together, there are millions of yogis out there so there’s a good chance this gift option will resonate with more than a few of your employees.

Yoga mats like this handmade, biodegradable hemp option have a minimal carbon footprint and provide a great team-building opportunity.

Desk plant

Studies show that green settings positively affect both mood and self-esteem so why not bring the garden right to your desk?

Crate Joy’s Succulents Box will send one plant per month for as low as $10. Before you know it, your office will be rivaling the closest public garden.

Eco-friendly snacks

With their campaign to #eatthepeel, Rind’s dried whole fruit snacks promise more vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants than sugary competitors. Even better, by keeping the skin on their fruit, they diverted over 120,000 pounds of edible food waste in 2020.

Check out this list of other sustainable snack options that you could add to a personalized snack box for your employees.

Compost kits

Sustainable return to office gifts don’t have to be exclusively for use in and around the office. If your team has been trying to take their eco-friendly habits home with them, lend a hand by subsidizing a compost kit.

Package Free offers a small starter compost bin that’s great for apartments and they’re also known for their zero waste kits if you’re looking for another option to add on.

Team-building experience

If you can’t get outside for an extended period of time, make sure to at least take a break from your screen and look Airbnb has virtual experiences like dance classes, magic shows, and trivia that would have a low carbon footprint for your team, but even better on the sustainable front might be a Loola Eco Edventure.

This impact “travel” lets you choose a UN goal and community to support from the comfort of your own home or office. For example, you could give a family a life-saving sanitation system that doubles up as a crop garden and join by video to see it implemented.

Donation to local organization

There’s nothing wrong with choosing one of the awesome gifts on this list, but if Marie Kondo (not to mention the experience of spending many days in a small apartment) has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes the most sustainable option isn’t physical.

For those still in a decluttering mode, offer one intangible option like a donation to a local farming non-profit or educational program that promotes sustainability. Paying it forward always pays off.

Double-check sustainability and offer a selection 

As you evaluate the best eco-friendly corporate gifts for your team, make sure the materials used to make them are renewable or have a low impact on the environment. It’s also a good idea to offer a selection of similarly-priced gifts so that each employee can find the gift that resonates the most with them.


What are you considering for sustainable/eco-friendly employee gifts? We’d love to hear your ideas on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

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Jeff Gapinski

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