When looking for a gift whether it’s for someone already with a zero waste lifestyle or just starting their zero waste journey, there are three main questions to ask that will help determine whether your gift is both suitable for the recipient and actually environmentally friendly.
Is It a Useful Item for the Recipient?
Firstly it is worth considering whether a purchase is necessary, therefore avoiding buying a gift just because you feel obligated to do so.
To limit the number of unused gifts that are thrown out or donated each year (especially during the holiday season), try to think about whether the products you choose will fit in with the recipient’s lifestyle and provide value to them.
What Is the Product’s Lifecycle?
Secondly, consider where the product will end up at the end of its lifecycle. By choosing products with easily recycled or compostable packaging and components, once your recipient has used your gift it can be sustainably disposed of.
How Is the Item Produced?
Finally, it is worth doing some research into the production of the product itself. When choosing your gift, opt for ones made with the least amount of waste.
Items made from sustainable materials with plastic free packaging are excellent choices.
20 Zero Waste Gift Ideas
With growing awareness of sustainability and the impact of consumer products on the environment, many companies have been developed or founded to provide zero waste options ranging from everyday items to luxury products.
These offer an excellent variety of options when choosing zero waste gifts.
What Are the Best Zero Waste Gifts?
If you are looking for awesome gift ideas that are zero waste, here are some options:
1. Homemade Treats
Homemade treats, complete with reusable or recyclable packaging, are a thoughtful and low-cost way to provide a gift. With so many recipes available online, the possibilities are endless. Why not try making vegan almond butter brownies, or an easy vegan birthday cake?
2. Experience Gifts
What better way to personalise a gift than to choose an experience related to a hobby or interest that your recipient can enjoy? From concerts to cooking classes, there are plenty of options for memorable zero waste gifts that do not add to the number of physical objects we accumulate.
3. Virtual Gift Card
Your recipient can enjoy the same benefits of a standard gift card or gift certificate without adding to the amount of plastic waste and CO2 produced.
A virtual gift card can be used for online shopping, or even for making a charitable donation, making it useful for the gift receiver and more beneficial for the environment.
Zero Waste Homeware
Gifting someone sustainable homeware is a great way to gently encourage zero waste living whilst still providing thoughtful and practical gifts.
Items such as reusable drinking straws made from stainless steel or glass help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean. These kinds of items are usually used frequently so are an excellent place to start.
5. Beeswax Food Wraps
These are a great alternative to sandwich bags or cling film as they are plastic-free and keep food fresh which helps eliminate the amount of food waste produced.
Additionally, if you make any homemade preserves, you can use the wraps to cover the top of glass jars.
6. Eco-Friendly Candles
Candles that are specifically produced using eco-friendly materials such as coconut shells and eco soy wax make excellent low waste gifts.
To avoid wasting components after use, the coconut bowl can be repurposed as a decorative dish for jewellery or keys.
7. Sustainable Blanket or Throw
For something a little bit more luxury, a fair trade certified cotton throw makes the perfect cosy gift.
There are so many more options as well such as weighted blankets to reduce anxiety and stress.
8. Compost Bin
No matter if the person you are buying a gift for is an avid gardener or just trying to be more environmentally friendly, a compost bin is an alternative gift that will provide the means to dispose of food waste and reap plenty of benefits.
For those with children, compost bins with worms are an exciting way to introduce food disposal.
9. Zero Waste Kit
For an easy sustainable gift, a kit of carefully thought out products is the perfect option for a zero waste starter.
Box kit ideas could include something like laundry supplies with items such as a reusable laundry bag and microplastic-free washing detergent.
You could even make a DIY box with customized products complete with a reusable or recyclable box.
Sustainable Lifestyle Gifts
For many, a huge proportion of our time is spent outside our homes which means there are plenty of ways to extend a zero-waste lifestyle gift to daily events – say at work or during leisure activities.
10. Water Bottle or Insulated Coffee Cup
There are extensive options for reusable drinks containers, regardless of whether your recipient is a big water drinker or a devoted coffee lover.
Gifting a BPA-free reusable bottle reduces the need for single-use plastic bottles. Similarly, for fans of hot drinks, try gifting a coffee mug or thermal cup.
11. Notebooks and Pens
Notebooks and pens have so many more uses than just writing down notes at work. If you know an aspiring writer or an organisation fanatic, why not gift them a notebook made from recycled paper?
Instead of a disposable plastic pen, reusable ones such as fountain pens with a converter for ink bottles are not only more luxurious but much better for the environment.
12. Reusable Grocery Bag
Eliminating the use of single-use plastic bags is an incredibly easy way to help preserve the environment.
With so many designs available, from canvas totes to string grocery bags, there is bound to be the perfect one for you to gift.
13. Eco-Friendly Phone Case
It is incredibly uncommon to find someone who does not own a phone in a world so rife with technology.
For this reason, eco-friendly phone cases make a great gift. Again, there are so many designs for nearly every phone model which makes life easier when it comes to choosing one to gift.
Zero Waste Cosmetics and Self-Care
Per year, beauty products produce more than 120 billion units of packaging globally, of which only around 9% actually gets recycled.
In order to combat this issue, environmentally conscious companies have turned to produce ‘naked’ products that forgo packaging altogether, or products that can be easily recycled and reused. Here are some gift options in these categories:
14. Plastic Free Dental Care
Dental hygiene routines are a fundamental part of self-care, which again can be slightly modified to benefit the planet. Similar to the laundry kits, why not create a box of products for your recipient?
Instead of a toothbrush made of plastic, opt for a bamboo toothbrush, and for dental products, choose zero waste or easily recyclable options.
15. Sustainable Makeup
For the makeup wearer in your life, there are plenty of cosmetics brands that produce ‘naked’ products, or products using recyclable materials such as eyeshadows in metal tins.
Another key aspect to consider when gifting makeup and cosmetic products, in general, is whether they are cruelty-free – look for the Cruelty Free Leaping Bunny logo on products to identify them.
16. Shaving Supplies
For those who choose to shave, there is a multitude of options out there to choose from, and they don’t have to add to the amount of plastic waste.
For razors, types with detachable and recyclable blades are best, and for companion products, try to go with cruelty-free shaving creams or soaps with minimal packaging.
17. Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
Single-use makeup remover products such as wipes and cotton pads massively contribute to the amount of waste produces by the beauty industry.
Thankfully, there are alternatives such as reusable cotton pads that are easy to wash and would make the perfect accompaniment to a gift with makeup products.
18. Hair and Body Wash Sets
If you choose to gift cosmetic product sets, take the opportunity to avoid the plastic bottles in which most shampoos and body washes come.
Zero waste options can come in a variety of product forms including ‘naked’ bars or refillable bottles.
Zero Waste Gifts for Kids
Zero-waste gifts needn’t be limited to adults, there are plenty of suitable gift ideas for children.
19. Wooden Toys
Built from sustainable wood, wooden toys are not only far better for the environment than plastic toys, but they can be just as enjoyable and enriching for children.
20. Toy Library Subscription
Toy libraries allow parents or carers the opportunity to take toys out on loan for their children.
Gifting a subscription is a great way to cut down on consumerism yet still provide a fun gift.
Environmentally Friendly Gift Wrapping
One of the final, and perhaps the most overlooked parts of eco-friendly gifting is the wrapping itself.
Gift wrapping products are usually one-time use and they unfortunately often end up in landfills.
By carefully choosing your gift wrapping, you can help protect the environment and avoid undoing the hard work put into choosing the perfect zero waste gift.
Here are some easy ways to make your gift wrapping more environmentally friendly:
Choose Plastic Free Wrapping Paper
Many wrapping papers are not recyclable and contain plastic; however, excellent eco-friendly and sustainable wrapping papers are available.
When choosing your wrapping paper, look for ones that are plastic-free or made of recycled materials.
If you want to go that little bit further in the name of sustainability, why not try fabric wrapping that your gift recipient can reuse?
Reuse Boxes and Gift Bags
Instead of purchasing new gift wrapping, this is the perfect time to use that nice box or gift bag you have been saving.
Not only will you be helping protect the environment, but this is also a great way to save a little bit of money.
Use Paper Tape Instead of Plastic
Switching to paper tape is a more environmentally friendly option that lessens the amount of gift wrapping that ends up in landfills. Paper tapes also break down easier and are usually recyclable.
If you are looking to add a bit more decoration to your gift you could even skip the tape altogether by folding your wrapping paper and securing it with some patterned fabric ribbon.