Zero waste and gift giving don’t always go hand-in-hand. Picking out the perfect gift for friends and family can be a lot of fun, but to factor in packaging waste, longevity of the gift, gift wrapping, cards and more…it’s no wonder it can feel overwhelming to someone with a zero waste lifestyle! Have no fear—we’re here to help! We’ve compiled and tested out some great strategies for zero waste gift giving to make your spirits bright while also sticking to your zero waste habits.
Cute wrapping paper and fancy bows are often all too tempting at the store but going more sustainable with your wrapping can help you personalize your gifts and save money.
- Newspaper. Newspaper makes for a wonderful wrapping paper. Comic pages are especially fun for kids (and adults)!
- Paper bags (for those times you forget your reusable grocery bags). Many people reuse their paper bags as book covers, trash bags and more. They also make for great gift wrapping material.
- Reusable bags. Utilize a reusable bag to wrap your gift.
- Cloth, scarf or handkerchief. Wrap your gift in a vintage handkerchief, cloth napkin or scarf for two gifts in one!
- Scratch paper. For smaller gifts, scratch paper can be utilized as a wrapping paper.
- Reused gift bags or gift wrap. Keep all gift bags you receive and reuse!
- Or just skip the wrapping!
Be sure to decorate and personalize your gifts once they’re wrapped. Use twine instead of bows and make your own cards or tags out of scratch paper, old tags, scraps or business cards. For more zero waste gift wrap ideas, check out our past blog on Sustainable Gift Wrap Solutions.
Zero Waste Gift Ideas
There are many directions you can go to incorporate zero waste practices into your gift giving and bring even more meaning to your gifts. In general, look for gifts with minimal or no packaging and figure out what your family and friends really want and need. Sometimes the best zero waste gift is the one that the recipient will enjoy for years to come!
- Eco-friendly items. Help friends and family be more sustainable with gifts like reusable cups, stainless steel straws or travel utensil sets.
- Shop local. Buy locally roasted coffee, find unique gifts at farmers markets and support local boutiques. Often, local companies are more sustainable with packaging and materials.
- Purchase repurposed items such as glass cups made from beer bottles.
- Shop at thrift or secondhand stores. Games, books and kitchen items are great categories to find secondhand to prevent consumer waste and save some money.
- Support a nonprofit. Give a gift to an organization making a difference in your community on behalf of a friend or family member.
- Make DIY Gifts such as candles (see this tutorial), bird feeder (tutorial here) or scarfs (see this DIY).
- Invest in an experience. Purchase a cooking lesson, schedule a tour pass to discover a new part of San Diego or book tickets for a theater show. Giving the gift of an experience can also be a great way to share time together!
- Handmade soaps. Check out local shops or farmers markets. Or make your own handmade soap.
- Food. Share your latest baking creation! Make cake pops, truffles or gummy bears. Be sure to think of zero waste friendly packaging options such as cloth napkins, beeswax saran wrap, Mason jars or reusable tins. Follow the I Love A Clean San Diego Pinterest page for DIY ideas for food and other gifts.
- Buy a membership. Art lover? Give them a museum membership. Surfer? Purchase a membership for an organization like Surfrider Foundation. Foodie? Get a membership that supports an organization AND gives discounts to local restaurants like Slow Food Urban San Diego.