Whatever the occasion, if you are looking for eco-friendly gifts, have a look at our suggestions for both adults and kids below.
As Zero Wasters, we encourage you to raise awareness on sustainable living and giving! Reducing home waste comes hand in hand with what we buy for ourselves but also for our loved ones.
The below ideas include ready-to-buy plastic-free items, as well as homemade zero waste gifts while reminding you to choose digital options whenever possible.
We love this sustainable gift as it is polyvalent and fun to use:
- As a food container (including in the freezer, see our article here)
- For infused water or simply filtered water
- They are decorative and can be used as a vase (or with corks, see the pic!)
You can offer it as such, without any packaging, just with a few flowers or your mix of cooking herbs, for example.
Add sisal strings (5 or 6 layers around the middle of each jar), and now, you have created your own customized Zero Waste Gift. And, appreciated by everyone in the family!
Zero Waste Candle
Many of us love the feeling of lightning candles at home for special occasions, or simply to relax. However, there are three important elements to consider before buying one:
- Choose candles made of glass or stainless steel holders, namely, avoid plastic or any other disposable material. You can easily reuse them later on in your garden, as containers for small plants or your wooden clothespins.
- Make sure they are non-toxic and choose wax that is free of paraffin. Unfortunately, many conventional candles contain toxins and chemicals that are harmful to health, especially if you are suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma. This means that when burning them, they fill the air up with detrimental chemicals.
- Avoid wicks with a metal core (they can provoke ashy residue in surrounding walls) and prefer those made of cotton or wood.
We particularly love candles made of organic soy wax or organic cotton yarn, with essential oils.
If you live in the United States, we recommend Brooklyn Candle Studio(Nevertheless, we strongly suggest buying locally whenever possible).
Their candles are guaranteed petroleum and phthalate-free, as well as 100% vegan. They use soy wax derived from American-grown soy beans and propose a variety of captivating scents.
One of our preferred Zero Waste Gifts related to personal care is all Purpose Soap and Deodorant, coming in the form of a bar, and often sold in recycled cardboard boxes.
Surprisingly, most scents are appealing to both men and women. We switched to a soap bar a few years ago, and we use it for both hair and body.
As for the deodorant, you can rest assured you’ll be covered the entire day! Lastly, they are easily transportable for a getaway weekend with friends.
Plants or Aromatic Herbs
Whether you are looking for a gift for someone who lives in a house, or an apartment, consider buying plants and aromatic herbs, such as mint, parsley, thyme, chives, cilantro, or basil.
Rest assured, there is no need to be a professional gardener; they are easily looked after. Have a look here for more details.
We particularly love using parsley or oregano to perfume our dishes, and mint or dill to add a fresh touch to our cocktails.
Reusable Water Bottle
As mentioned in our article here, using these type of water bottles will have a significant impact on reducing home waste. Have a look below at our ideal water bottle:
- Stainless steel: you can use it for both warm and cold liquids
- 21 oz (600ml): sufficient for a gym class or a busy morning at work
- Spoud lid: leak-free guaranteed
Reusable Cotton Bags
When going food shopping, you can either bring your jars (it could be a bit heavy depending on your list) and/or reusable cotton bags.
Mainly for fruits or vegetables, bulk goods such as rice, or nuts, and salt. This gift is a great eco-conscious alternative to traditional single-use plastic bags when doing groceries.
No need for cellophane anymore. Here is one way you can make your wax-infused wrap for you to be able to offer a great gift that will be particularly handy in the kitchen:
- Take a piece of cloth or rag (ideally, quite colorful!) that you do not use anymore, preferably made of 100% cotton and cut it, to form a square of 10 X 10 inches
- Grape one ounce of bee wax (or cut it in small pieces)
- Place the cloth on a flat dish that can go in the oven and sprinkle the wax equally on the cloth
- Leave in the oven at 180°F (80C°) for five to seven minutes
- Remove from oven, and with a paintbrush make sure the wax is equally scattered
- Let it cool down before using
- Once used, wash it gently with lukewarm water, never wash it in warm water or in the washing machine as it will remove the wax completely
Zero Waste Starter Kit
It is easier to find these online at a reasonable price. If your budget is between 50 to 100 USD, consider a customized starter kit as gift ideas for your loved ones. Our ideal starter kit would be as follows:
- Bar soap for everyone in the family to try
- Glass straws: for everyday use and homemade cocktails!
- Beeswax wraps to help with better food packaging
- Reusable cutlery and lunch box, when going out to work or school
- Cotton bags for food shopping
- MicroFiber cloth for all-purpose cleaning
Homemade Modeling Clay
One of our favorite uncommon sustainable gifts is modeling clay; you can easily make it yourself. If stored correctly and hermetically (e.g., in glass jars), you can keep it for months.
Here is a great recipe:
- One cup of all-purpose flour
- One cup of warm water
- Half a cup of baking soda
- Half a cup of salt
- One teaspoon of olive oil
- Optional: essential oil drops and food coloring
- Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda
- Add the water, a few drops of essential oils and olive oil
- In a pan, cook the mixture on low heat until the texture becomes thick enough to be removed easily from the pan
- Let it cool down then, knead the modeling clay ( you can add food coloring, but not necessary)
- Before using it, moisturize your hands first
- Have fun!
One of the most simple Zero Waste Gifts! Just to name a few reasons why they are so much better (and nicer) than their plastic versions:
- They are more solid and can be repaired more easily (Remember the ‘5R’s rules here)
- Wood is a noble material, respectful of the environment. Make sure to check that the wood comes from sustainable forests i.e., FSC or PEFC labeled.
- They tend to be locally made, i.e., handcrafted and not mass-produced, which explains their price.
- They are usually painted and covered with eco-friendly ingredients: make sure they are covered in lead-free paint, with finishing touches made of beeswax or vegetal oil
- They are decorative! Wooden toys give a welcoming touch in any kid’s bedrooms
- They make less noise and awaken the child’s sense of touch
The numbers related to school supplies waste are staggering: US schools generate, on average, 4.7 pounds of waste per person. Forty percent of that waste is related to paper.
Considering that each year, nearly 900 million trees are cut down to be produce paper, we all must switch to recycled paper.
Bear in mind that each ton of recycled paper can save the equivalent of 17 trees, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of electricity, and 7,000 gallons of water.
So why hesitate? Here are a few plastic-free gifts:
- Eco-binders or books made from recycled paper.
- Even simpler, give audiobooks!
- Book Sox: these are stretchable textbook protection covers. They come in different sizes, are colorful and washable
- Metal tins to store pencils(like the ones above!)
- For lunch: reusable bags made out of beeswax (fruits, biscuits), bamboo cutlery, and a metal tin with smart compartments (different sizes to maximize each space depending on the type of food).
An Activity Together
For your godchildren, you could offer them an original activity together; a moment they will never forget!
Here are a few Zero Waste gift ideas (and when applicable, make sure to receive your tickets digitally):
- Hot-air balloon
- Treetop adventure course
- Gardening together: take them to your local gardening store where they can choose the seeds, herbs, or plants they like; then plan an afternoon together to let them learn the ropes.
- DIY workshop with their friends: why not make their own Zero Waste Snacks or Zero Waste Christmas tree bulbs?
There are plenty of Zero Waste gift ideas for any situation. The idea here is to come up with a list that every person can rely on.
A Zero waste gift is one that helps both the environment and the recipient.
We hope this list gives you plenty of ideas, and feel free to let us know if we missed any!