Greening Your Gifts!

Give the gift of green this holiday season with gifts that help the planet. The Cincinnati Zoo’s Gift Shop offers a number of eco-friendly gifts, along with other “ZOO-nique” gift ideas that benefit the Zoo. For example, there are bright, beautiful bags and scarves made from recycled silk fibers. Those same bags are also made from recycled hemp fibers. An example of eco-friendly jewelry is Nuna Collections Tagua Nut Jewelry. Every piece of jewelry is handmade from organic and natural materials like tagua seeds, tayrona stones, acai seeds and recyclable wood. A Tagua nut is the fruit of a palm tree, and is considered an ecologically safe, supportive and friendly product. In one year, a Tagua palm produces the same amount of “ivory” as a female elephant. The harvest of Tagua is a wonderful way to protect endangered rainforest lands giving people a sustainable, renewable, natural resource that provides economic stability and an alternative to rainforest destruction.

Hand-carved in India mango wood frames, boxes and trays are created using only wood supply which is harvested under government supervision as a renewable resource. These are all Fair Trade and meet the guidelines established by the Lacey Act for importation into the USA. The Zoo Gift Shop also offers BPA Free, biodegradable and/or recyclable water bottles. About 23 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills every year. Make the switch to a reusable bottle for fresher tasting water that is better for the environment.

The Shop also offers gifts made from items that are given a second life. Animal inspired masks, ornaments and sculptures are handmade and painted in Zimbabwe using scrap metal and old soda cans. Note cards, journals and other gifts made partially out of elephant poo are also available!  There is also jewelry by Swahili Imports made from flip flops found on the beaches of the Lamu Archipelago, off the northeast coast of Kenya.   These are just a few of the eco-friendly items available. Visit the shop to find more!

Other Zoo-nique gift ideas include:

  • Zoo Memberships – something that can be enjoyed all year long!
  • Adopt-An-Animal – your gift provides food, toys and fun enrichment for the Zoo’s animals. You receive a certificate, color photo and animal fact sheet in return.
  • Animal Artwork – Order paintings online, completed by our talented elephants and rhinos. Red panda painted ornaments can be found in the gift shop as well.
  • Education Gift Certificates – Zoo Education Programs are a great gift for the whole family. Gift certificates are available in $5, $10, $25 and $50 amounts.
  • Zooster’s Craft Shop – Visit the Zooster’s shop during Festival of Lights to find handmade ornaments, jewelry, bags and other goodies.

Visit the Gift Shop during regular Zoo hours (9-5pm), as well as Festival of Lights (5-9pm), to get your eco-friendly gifts.

You can also shop locally and find other eco-friendly gifts at places like Park+Vine, Greener Stock, Indigeneous, Coffee Emporium, Marvin’s Organic Gardens, Blue Manatee Bookstore or Ten Thousand Villages.

And wrap those gifts in a way that doesn’t add to the landfills. Americans spend nearly $2.7 billion a year on gift wrap, most of which ends up in the landfills. That adds to the nearly 40 million tons of paper products wasted. Dyes, glitters and other decorations make it difficult to recycle wrapping paper. Use alternatives like newspaper (I like to use the colorful comic section), fabric that can be used as a table cloth or tapestry, reusable bags that can be used for shopping later, or decorative boxes that be used over and over again. offers reusable gift wrap that can be seasonal, seasonless and perfect for any size gift!

Give a gift this season that benefits the planet! Have a wonderful holiday and a green new year!