Zero-Waste Gifts For Everyone On Your List

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As much as it hurts to hear, the vast majority of gifts we give during the holidays are just plain wasteful. 

That gag gift from last year? Totally collecting dust. 

The avocado peeler? Probably gets used twice a year. 

And about that electric car for the kids …

Statistics back me up on this one. Global holiday waste amounts to more than 25 million tons of garbage, including the 1 billion Christmas cards that wind up in the trash (ouch). 

Don’t feel bad. None of us mean to give presents that simply go to waste or create clutter in the house. In our ever-changing, commercialistic holiday atmosphere, it’s all too easy to get suckered in by deals or promotional items.

But I’m here to tell you, there’s a better way.

As a broke college kid, I had no way of buying the gifts I really wanted for my loved ones. So I turned to the next best thing: DIY. These were things I could bake, melt, craft, or design, all with the intention of bringing others value for the long term. Although not every item on that list was zero waste, over the years, I have refined my strategy for a more sustainable lineup.

Interested in making some zero waste gifts for your loved ones? Let’s take a look at some sustainable ideas for everyone on your shopping list, from parents and kids to close friends and significant others.

For Him

  • Beef Jerky: Easy to make and easier to eat. Plus, homemade beef jerky costs a lot less to make than store-bought packages.
  • Cold Processed Soap: Not only does it look and smell beautiful, but it makes the men in your life feel special, too. All you need are raw ingredients and some lovely scents.
  • Beard Oil: This is also a gift I make on the regular, and let me tell you, it’s a fan favorite. I’ve found that mint and sandalwood are the most popular scents, but feel free to choose your own.

For Her

  • Lip Balm: These little tubes are way easier to make than you think. You can order all the components online and have them made within a few days.
  • Bath Bombs: Three things: cornstarch, citric acid, baking soda. Mix these up with herbs, dyes, and scents, and you’ve got yourself the perfect gift.
  • Lotion Bars: Who needs tube lotion when you can gift adorable bars in solid form? I love using little bee stamps for a personalized touch.

For Parents

  • Engraved Towel: A few years ago, I gave my Mom a personally printed kitchen towel with our famous dinner roll recipe printed on the front. If you have a laser printer, the possibilities are endless.
  • Arm-Knitted Blanket: Think knitting, but with your arms. Chunky woven blankets make some adorable gifts and keep your parents warm throughout the holidays. Not to mention, they’re still all the rage in the home decor department. 
  • Baking Mixes: Create soups, cookies, or beer breads in a jar that can be whipped up in minutes. Plus, the jar can be reused instead of being thrown out.

For Children

  • Sweet Treats: The kiddos in my life go gaga for some homemade fudge, caramels, and marshmallows, and they cost almost nothing to make.
  • Succulents: If you’ve already got some mature succulents of your own, why not break off a few leaves to start some baby plants?
  • Stuffed Animals: Making a DIY stuffie is not as hard as you think. These critters are perfect for the little ones in your life.

For Friends

  • Homemade Chocolates: Molds, chocolate chips, and fillings are all you need to make a set of purely customizable chocolates. This project is unbelievably fun, but do be prepared for a kitchen coated in ingredients.
  • Bird Feeder: If you have a jar, some durable fabric, and a dowel rod, you could make a simple yet stylish bird feeder for the outdoorsy folks in your life.
  • Limoncello: I made this a couple of years ago for friends, and it was a huge success. Pro tip: Starting the extraction process earlier allows for a stronger, more lemony flavor.

Bonus: Zero Waste Wrapping Ideas

Now that you’ve got your gift ideas, you can start getting them wrapped and ready to go. And this is where the real fun begins: zero waste packing ideas.

  • Instead of regular Christmas cards, create seed paper that can be grown into some beautiful flowers.
  • Use a material other than paper to wrap your gifts, including recycled newspaper or even fabric.
  • Cloth bags make an excellent recycled alternative to wrapping paper.

No matter who you’re shopping for this holiday season, choose to rely on holistic, sustainable, green solutions for the future. You (and Mother Earth) will be happy you did.

Tags: Environment, Friends, gifts, Sustainability

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Written By

Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA who specializes in content marketing. See Full Bio

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