Practical Zero Waste Gift Ideas

I have a love/hate relation ship with gift giving.
I love giving gifts and making people happy.
What I hate about gift giving is the general focus on just buying more stuff that may not even be used or wanted creating more waste. I am going to try and focus on a few practical zero waste gift ideas to spark the recipients interest in reducing their impact on the planet.

Gift Experiences – a Practical Zero Waste Gift Idea

I wish I could get my family behind this one.
Instead of gifting items, gift experiences.
Memberships to local zoos, museums, aquariums. Maybe even just tickets for the whole family for a day. Although in my experience, a year membership for a family of four is almost the cost of a year’s membership.
Massages, concert tickets…

DIY Food and Drink Mixes

This has been a life saver with family many times.
I have been known to whip up a cookie mix in a jar, or make hot cocoa mix and send it out in cute little jars. I have seen people online make soup and chilli mixes too. As a picky eater, I recommend sticking to something basic like chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or hot cocoa … something that most people like.
If you have the ingredients and some jars on hand, “cookies in a jar” and “soups in a jar” make a great zero waste gift that also doubles as a last minute gift.

Zero Waste Gift Idea jar mix

What to consider

Be cautious of food allergies.
Make sure to list the ingredients for the recipient as either a cute tag or a card that also has the directions on it.

Glass or Metal Food Containers

Always welcomed in my home. Glass or metal food containers make a very practical zero waste gift. It would help to replace plastic containers in people’s lives and acts as a great housewarming gift. There are so many sizes and options available. For a more personal vs family touch, reusable lunch containers or bento boxes are a great idea.

Dryer Balls as a Practical Zero Waste Gift

It’s pretty much assumed that everyone does laundry…
As much as I love to hang my clothes to dry, these Canadian winters make it a little bit hard. Add to the fact that I live in an apartment so I have limited space and a family of four. I use dryer balls to help reduce the amount of time (saving money) that it takes to dry my clothes and avoid using fabric softener sheets. I personally like to add a few drops of essential oils to my dryer balls to help add a little bit of scent that is all natural, as well as act like a diffuser spreading the wonderful benefits of the oils through my laundry area while I am drying the clothes.

zero waste gifts wool dryer balls

What to look for

100 % wool works best, especially if you are planning on adding any oils.
Support your local farmers markets, health food, bulk and zero waste stores as they usually carry 100% wool dryer balls from local farmers and artisans.

Travel Mugs and Water Bottles

A good starter zero waste gift, also great for basic zero waste starter kits. A travel mug or reusable water bottle is great gift to get people to switch from using disposable cups and single use water bottles.

Stainless Steel Wine Glasses

This is kind of a “want” on my list.
According to what I have read about stainless steel wine glasses, they can keep your drinks cooler longer than glass.

Gift Cards to Local Zero Waste or Bulk Stores

A gift card to a local zero waste, bulk or natural health food store could possibly be one of the most practical zero waste gift. The recipient can pick out items that they would prefer and you are supporting a local business at the same time. When the recipient goes into the store, they will be exposed to so many items and the people at the stores can help guide them on their zero waste journey.

Local zero waste shop

The Best Advice for Giving Zero Waste Gifts

Know the person that you are shopping for.
Listen for items that they may have mentioned wanting to try out but wouldn’t normally splurge on. If you’re crafty, you can try your hand at making some items that the recipient may want or need. Check out second hand shops for items instead of buying new ones.

Reusable Gift Bags

Wrap up your gift in a cloth gift bag to ensure that it will be reused.
I happen to keep all gift bags, my family members even gather them at holidays and give me them to take home. They also call me up if they need any on a short notice.

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Quick Tips for a Zero Waste Thanksgiving

Personally, I prefer to call the traditional fall meal a Harvest Feast. There is so much controversy surrounding the history of the “First Thanksgiving” as I was taught in American Schools. In Canada, there seems to be an emphasis placed on the First Nations People and their giving of thanks for the harvest that will see them through the winter months.
I thought I would share some ways that you can shift your get together towards being a more zero waste Thanksgiving celebration.

Zero Waste Thanksgiving TIps

Did you know that in the US the following is wasted each year just from a typical Thanksgiving meal.

  • 172 million pounds of turkey
  • 14 million pounds of dinner rolls
  • 29 million pounds of vegetable sides
  • 30 million pounds of gravy
  • 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes
  • 38 million pounds of stuffing

Plan ahead for a Zero Waste Thanksgiving Meal

Food waste, if it were to be measured as a country, would be the world’s third largest country of green house gas emissions. Planning ahead for the amount of people and their dietary preferences is always a good idea. Don’t assume that everyone is going to take home left overs, or that they will enjoy the way you prepare the food. If they take the food home out of courtesy it may be zero waste for you, but if they end up tossing it, it is still waste.

When you are shopping, choose items with the last packaging and don’t forget your reusable bags!

Host a “Pot Luck Style” Thanksgiving dinner for less waste

To make this one work, make sure to keep track of who is bringing what. Having some sort of sign up would be optimal. Reasons why this style works is that it takes some of the stress of cooking and storing food from the host. You can ensure that people will cook things the way they enjoy it and there will be less that goes to waste. This can also be a fun way to explore zero waste Thanksgiving get together as you can pick different types of cuisines. I am not aware of any rule that says you have to have the traditional turkey and sides.

Growing up, my Dad’s side of the family used this style. My Grama would make the turkey and some of the side dishes. My Aunts would bring other dishes and deserts.

Zero Waste Ideas for Thanksgiving Left Overs

If you do have left overs, you can keep a stash of containers for people to take food home in. I keep and reuse almost everything, so I am usually the one who shows up to family meals with containers for everyone to take stuff home in. If you brought a dish, you can take home left overs in it. If you’re feeling brave enough, ask everyone to bring their own containers if they want left overs to take home.

Get creative. Stay away from the traditional plastic cling wrap and you’re on your way to a zero waste Thanksgiving Day.

What doesn’t get eaten, compost!

Zero Waste Thanksgiving Decor

It’s fall!
You can keep your decor simple, yet elegant, by working in natural items.
Get creative and create a nature inspired look.
When you’re through, the natural items can be added to your compost.

Obvious Zero Waste Thanksgiving Choices

Skip the disposable plates and cutlery.
If you’re short on dishes or flatware, ask some friends or family if they have anything you can borrow to avoid needlessly buying more. If you will be using them in them in the future and can justify the need, check out thrift stores for pieces that go with what you have.

Use cloth napkins.

If disposable items are absolutely needed, opt for something compost-able.

Why should we strive towards a zero waste lifestyle? Read this post to find out more.