The holidays are anything but zero-waste. With all the food, decorations and gifts to be wrapped, it can be easy to end up with a ton of waste when the season ends.
One thing you can do to waste less is to buy everyone a zero-waste gift.
But that’s impossible and super expensive, right? Not necessarily.
There are many ways you can give someone a zero-waste gift that doesn’t cost nearly as much as you would expect. Some gifts will only cost you a little time and not much else.
Below are some ideas you can use to make your gifts zero-waste and thoughtful.
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Give the gift of experience, because having memories is more important than owning things.
If you have someone with an adventurous spirit you need to get a gift for, or someone who just already has everything, gifting them an experience is something they will appreciate more.
You can gift someone an experience to anywhere in the world. This is great if you know someone is planning a trip abroad or like doing day trips in their own towns.
They have many great boxes to choose from, including a gift for the planet box which offsets 1 ton of CO2. There is a box for every interest that your loved ones have.
You can also make this gift completely zero-waste with the option to email the experience list to your loved one instead of giving them a printed out version.
If you want to have a more responsible tourism experience, Urban Adventures is the place to go.
They employ local guides all over the world with multiple tours to choose from. They make sure the local communities are treated ethically so your tour has a positive impact.
This is a great gift for someone who loves to experience local culture and wants something truly authentic. They don’t need to travel far with this gift either, as there might be many tours in or near their area.
A theme box is basically a box filled with specific things that the receiver would like.
I’ve seen theme boxes floating around Pinterest and they look really cool. They work well because you can personalize them and make them into whatever you want.
You can make up a movie night box filled with popcorn kernels, snacks, some favourite movies and something extra like warm socks. I’ve also seen Christmas boxes which fit the occasion well.
The sky is the limit with these boxes. Making a theme box is the perfect time to use what you have at home.
You can fill up containers you might have kept with cookies, homemade sweets or anything you know the person will love.
Use an old shoebox and decorate it to make the box itself, now’s the time to get really creative. That way nothing goes to waste.
And if you want to buy something to add in the box, like their favourite movie, you can always buy it secondhand. That way it stays zero-waste and makes the box look retro.
Side Note: The photo on the right is an example of theme boxes, these are not my ideas or my photo, it was created by The 11 Best, I am using it here as an example to show you what I mean.
Quality time gifts
If you’ve ever watched the Suite Life of Zack and Cody you might remember them always giving their mom coupons for her birthday.
They had things like a coupon for a hug, a favour or a fun outing. I always thought it was a great idea. Especially if you were a kid because it didn’t cost anything.
Nowadays it’s always hard to buy someone a gift because everybody always has everything. Most of the time people don’t need more things from you, they need more time with you.
Gifting something like these coupons is a great way to have some fun and make sure your loved ones get to spend time with you.
What’s great is you can make them using supplies you already have at home, or even make them digital.
Another great way to use what you have is to upcycle something you don’t use anymore and turn it into something brand new. You can get wine bottles cut and turn them into funky new drinking glasses.
Anything can be made into something different. Upcycling is a great way to get creative.
You can even take any household item and turn it into a pot plant.
Start growing your own nutritious herbs in them a few months before Christmas and you can gift your loved ones some fragrant plants to add in their cooking or just to liven up their homes.
Upcycling is a great way to give someone a zero-waste gift because you’re making something new from something you already had without using any more resources from our planet. And you can make some truly unique gifts.
Zero-waste subscription boxes
Why not make someone’s life easier for them by getting them ready-made nutritious meals. This is great for vegans and vegetarians who have busy lives and would appreciate a good life hack.
Veestro does just that. You can choose from 10, 20 or 30 meals to gift to someone. All the meals are healthy and plant-based. Their packaging is compostable and recyclable, making it more eco-friendly.
Even if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, you can include Veestro meals in a meatless Monday or have one meal a day that doesn’t contain animal products. They also have gluten-free options.
UCook is similar to Veestro but is only available in South Africa. They offer three different categories of meals that you can choose from; Health Nut, Easy Peasy and Vegetarian.
UCook sources all their ingredients from small-batch organic farmers in South Africa, making your meals ethical and sustainable. Their packaging is also compostable, recyclable and reusable.
And you can swap out meals in different categories if you have allergies or specific food preferences, making it really flexible.
Subscription boxes like Earthlove are great because they always have surprises and you get something new each time.
It’s perfect for anyone who loves goodie bags and new products that help them live more eco-friendly.
Earthlove has zero-waste packaging so your gift stays zero-waste. Everything inside the box is fair trade, ethical and environmentally responsible.
Gifting an Earthlove box to someone ensures you’re showing them and the planet a whole lot of love.
Life Without Plastic
Life Without Plastic is a home and lifestyle brand that focuses on giving their customers durable products that can last a lifetime and are free from harmful plastics.
Their subscription box gets sent out once every season and it contains 6 to 8 plastic-free items you can use in your home or for personal care.
Their products are ethically sourced and they make sure all the brands they partner with are fairly compensated.
They do set a closing date for each of their boxes, normally on the 15th day of the change of season, so be aware of that if you want to send it as a gift.
If your loved one is in the process of switching to a zero-waste lifestyle or would like to start, they also have a book called Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy, that you can gift to them in print or digitally.
It’s a wonderful resource for anyone wishing to live with less plastic.
Body pampering gifts
I love receiving bath and pampering products as gifts, so I had to include it. If you’re someone who loves giving or even receiving bath products as gifts you can totally make it zero-waste without any hassle.
Plaine Products have completely zero-waste packaging as it’s stainless steel and they have a reuse policy with all of their packaging.
All of their products use only natural ingredients. They are also vegan.
You can also build your own custom bundle. That way you can choose exactly what you want to gift someone. They even offer a subscription option.
Faithful To Nature
To all my fellow South Africans, here is my gift to you. If you don’t know about Faithful To Nature yet then hopefully I just made your day.
Not only do they have zero-waste bath and body products, they have pulled out all the stops this holiday season to bring you gift guides of their own starring the products they offer.
Including secret Santa gifts, gifts for teachers and festive bundles.
All of their products are natural, fair trade and they even have little icons that show you whether it’s local, cruelty-free, and various other requirements so you know everything about the products you are buying.
And that’s not all. If you sign up to their newsletter you get R100 voucher to spend in their online shop. What’s more, every time you shop you get loyalty points and earn money back.
They are also having specials for the holiday season right now so you can get great deals (only available during the holiday season).
I personally shop all my natural products from their online store that ships everywhere in South Africa. You can even ask them to gift wrap it for you at checkout. Their packaging is plastic-free and recyclable.
Sometimes you know exactly what someone wants, but what they want isn’t sustainable or zero-waste. No worries, you can buy anything secondhand these days.
Thrifting that perfect gift also makes it zero-waste. As you’re making sure it doesn’t go to landfill and not using any more precious resources.
For gadget lovers
We all know someone who loves everything technology and who have the coolest accessories for that technology.
Pela has come up with a way to make phone cases that are 100% compostable and free of plastic.
They have beautiful colours and designs for their cases that have been on my wish list for a while now.
And they’ve also released Smart Watch Bands and AirPods cases for your loved ones who own everything Apple.
For the ethical fashionista
The Ethical Fashionista Lookbook Guide and Template
Of course, I couldn’t have a zero-waste gift guide without adding my own products.
The Ethical Fashionista Lookbook Guide And Template is a labour of love that I know every ethical fashionista needs to help them on their journey.
If your loved one is someone who wants to take their ethical fashion journey to the next level, they need their own lookbook.
Having their own personal lookbook will help them have easy access to all their outfits on their phone, in one place.
So they can know exactly how their wardrobe fits together and be able to buy clothes ethically, that they’ll actually wear.
This is a total time saver. And it’s zero-waste on more than one level.
The actual guide and template is digital, no natural resources needed, and it will help your loved one get the maximum use out of their wardrobe so their clothes don’t end up in the landfill.
And there you have it, 6 different types of zero-waste gifts that your loved ones will appreciate. Super easy to make and find and they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
I hope this gift guide was helpful for you and that you get that perfect gift for the people in your life. Let me know in the comments if you have any more gift ideas and how you make sure the gifts you give are zero-waste.
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