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10 Zero waste gift ideas for this holiday season

With the holidays just around the corner, it is time to start shopping for gifts for your loved ones. If you have grown tired of fast trends, wasteful plastic packaging, and high delivery fees that go along with the holidays, then perhaps it is time you consider some zero waste gifts.

Sustainable gifting that has zero waste attached to them, or can be reused, is an excellent way to spoil your family while not harming the planet. Zero-waste Christmas gifts can be defined as handmade, homemade, or second-hand gifts, or gifts that help the receiver reduce their waste generation. Read on for some eco-friendly and zero waste gift ideas that you can bless your loved ones with this holiday season.

1. Consumables

One of the easiest zero-waste gift ideas is gifting your friends and family something they can eat. You don’t only have to limit it to shop-bought treats – why not try your hand at homemade cookies, or a snack hamper that would suit their needs? If you put the products in glass jars or reusable produce bags, they will meet your zero-waste Christmas gift requirements. Some ideas for consumable eco-friendly gifts are:

  • Home-made cookies;
  • Spice mixes;
  • Loose-leaf teas and sustainably sourced coffee beans;
  • Home-made jams;
  • Home-made hummus, pesto, or sauces;
  • Home-grown fruits or vegetables.

2. Handmade Gifts

If you have got some DIY or artistic skills, then handmade gifts are a great idea. You don’t have to whip out your entire toolbox to make a lovely sustainable gift for a loved one. Handmade gifts can be adapted to be suitable to all ages and genders, and with just a bit of creativity and know-how you can come up with some amazing sustainable presents. Some ideas for handmade, reusable gifts are:

  • Knitting a scarf or blanket;
  • Purchasing beads and making jewelry;
  • Making pottery at your local art shop;
  • Paint something – this includes painting table cloths, pillowcases, or even cards.

3. Going Green

Nothing says eco-friendly like gifting some greenery. Whether it is plants, seeds, or a gift card from your local nursery, the recipient of the gift is bound to love it. Alternatively, you can also donate in the name of your friends or family to organizations that plant trees (check out One Tree Planted, Greenpop, and for inspiration).

4. Subscriptions

Instead of gifting a physical gift, a great zero-waste gift idea is a subscription service. There are so many online subscriptions available, that you are sure to find something to suit everyone’s needs. With so many subscription options and types available, here are some ideas to get started:

  • Streaming service (movies or music);
  • Magazines;
  • Cruelty-free beauty and self-care subscription boxes;
  • Organic Fruit and Vegetable subscription boxes.

5. For the Kitchen Lovers

Sustainable gift ideas for the foodies in our lives can go beyond gifts they can eat. There are so many eco-friendly kitchen products that can be gifted to replace plastic or single-use items. Here are some ideas for plastic free gifts:

  • Compost bin (so their food scraps don’t go to waste);
  • Wax paper to wrap sandwiches in;
  • Glass storage containers;
  • Plastic-free reusable produce bags;
  • Reusable shopping bags.

6. Planet-Friendly Personal Care

Many of the well-known global beauty brands are involved in activities that harm the environment, like testing on animals, using microbeads that pollute our rivers and oceans, or exploiting labor in low-income countries. Fortunately, there are also a lot of cruelty-free, eco-friendly cosmetic brands out there. These may be a bit more pricey, but they are zero-waste and good for the planet. So why not put together a personal care package, knowing that you are not contributing to environmental damage?

7. Gifts On The Go (water bottles and travel mugs)

If you have some family members that are always rushing from one place to the next, then it is a great idea to get them sustainable gifts to suit their lifestyle. Some eco-friendly gift ideas and reusable gifts for those on the go are:

  • Reusable water bottle;
  • Travel mug for coffee on the go;
  • Reusable metal or wooden straws;
  • Bamboo cutlery to keep in their bags.

8. For the Kids

Children’s toys are often made of plastic, and when kids outgrow them, the toys end up on the landfill. For younger children, why not consider getting them some wooden toys. It is more sustainable, durable, and will not contribute to plastic waste. Bonus if you can make the wooden toy yourself! Older children may enjoy books, a library subscription, or even a subscription to a toy library.

9. Experiences

Although ripping the wrapping paper off of a present is very exciting, gifting someone an experience or adventure could be much more meaningful. Research some local experiences that won’t break the bank. Some zero-waste adventure gifts include:

  • Ziplining;
  • 3-course meal at a fancy restaurant;
  • Boat cruise;
  • City sight-seeing trip;
  • Access to a museum or gallery;
  • Music lessons;
  • Spa day;
  • Art class;
  • Tickets to concerts or sporting events.

10. Nothing

Giving gifts during the holiday season is custom, but perhaps there are some family members or friends that you know of that would be happy to receive nothing. This does not mean you completely ignore them over the festive season. You can show your love to them by offering to spend time with them or do them small favors that you know they would appreciate, like inviting them over for dinner or helping them spring-clean their wardrobe.

Zero waste gift ideas: side note

If you are really stumped on what to get someone for Christmas, why not ask them to provide you with a list, and you get to select something from the list? Even if it is not a zero-waste gift, at least you will know that it is something they really want and that the gift will not go to waste.

Further reading:

Our recent articles about Sustainable living and Purpose-driven life & career.

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