If you’re trying to find the perfect zero waste gift you might think it’s an impossible task but fear not, we’ve put together a bumper list of ideas to get you started.
So if you’re looking for a zero waste gift you might be wondering exactly what all this zero waste malarkey is all about. Well it might sound impossible but simply put it is a lifestyle designed to reduce the amount of personal waste you create. The ultimate goal is to eliminate your waste altogether but most pragmatic zero wasters recognise any form of waste reduction is beneficial. Every little bit makes a difference so the cumulative impact is significant.
But if we’re trying to reduce waste what gifts could you possibly give? Doesn’t everything create some form of waste? Not necessarily and there are lots of gifts you can give that don’t involve buying new stuff. There are some times where a new product can cut waste too but lets start with zero waste gift ideas that don’t need you to buy something new.
Donations & Good Causes
1. Charity Donations
Donating to charity is a great gift especially if it is a cause that you both feel strongly about. If you’re after a few ideas consider donating to the British Heart Foundation. They do great work funding research into heart and circulatory diseases. Plus they accept donations of furniture and electrical items which they pick up for free. So you can stop unwanted stuff from going to waste and support a charity.
If you’d prefer to support a charity with more of an environmental focus then both the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace do great work. The WWF are working hard to protect endangered species and their habitats whilst Greenpeace tackle everything from plastic pollution to climate change.
Alternatively, pick a local charity and support your community. Pet rescue shelters, homeless shelters and children’s hospitals are all great causes.
2. Plant A Tree
Deforestation and the climate emergency are two of the biggest environmental challenges we’re facing. Planting a tree is a great zero waste gift that helps fight climate change. The reward of clean air and a bright future for generations to come is a gift that keeps giving.
Click A Tree lets you choose whether you want to plant a tree to support habitats for elephants, tigers or to protect marine wildlife and the oceans. All three are great causes so you can choose the one that is closest to heart or, if you just can’t choose, support them all.
3. Volunteer To Help
Maybe the gift of your time is the best thing that you could give. Whether you help your friend or loved one to move house or give them an extra hand looking after the kids you’re offer will be warmly appreciated. Alternatively, if they volunteer for a charity or run a small business offer to give them a hand.
Whatever way you choose to help you’ll not only give them a gift they really appreciate but also get to spend a bit of quality time together as well.
4. Invite Them To Dinner
A meal is a zero waste gift that lets you spend time together and stops food from going to waste. If you’ve too much food to eat, freeze or preserve then inviting friends and family over to share it with you is the perfect solution.
5. Days Out and Tours
A day out or tour is a fun experience that creates great memories and that you can enjoy together or separately.
Whether you are a pureblood or a muggle you can have a great time enjoying a studio tour together at Harry Potter World in London. If they like thrills and spills then why not head to Thorpe Park for a day of white knuckle rides. If you prefer a bit of heritage then classic attractions like Stonehenge, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle are all great days out. There are so many options to choose from you’ll be sure to find something that appeals to everyone.
6. Regift Old Presents
So you might be thinking right now, “I can’t give someone an old present I don’t want!”. Well, that is actually a great zero waste gift and most zero wasters would love to know something is getting reused rather than being thrown out.
If your gift is still in good condition or hasn’t even been opened then there is no reason that someone else can’t make use of it. Just make sure you know who gave it to you in the first place as it could be a bit awkward if you regift your present to whoever gave it to you to start with!
7. Reuse Gift Boxes and Wrapping Paper
This isn’t necessarily a gift in itself but it is still a great way to cut down on waste. If you hang on to gift bags, decorative boxes and wrapping paper you can reuse them saving you money and making best use of them.
Go hunting for those old rolls of wrapping paper as well. A little foraging could mean you don’t need to buy any new wrapping paper, cards or tags. But if you really want to cut out waste then forego the wrapping paper altogether.
Thrifting & Second Hand Gifts
8. Second Hand Clothes
Not all clothes need to be brand new. You can get some great second hand clothes from charity shops or on websites like eBay. Some people only buy clothes for a specific event and then never wear them again. So you can pick up some clothes that are virtually brand new and save a lot of money at the same time. This is also a great way to avoid being lured into the cheap, wasteful and exploitative world of fast fashion.
9. Vintage and Upcycled Furniture
This a great zero waste gift as it stops perfectly good furniture from going to waste just because someone thinks it doesn’t fit the look of their living room or bedroom any more. Vintage and upcycled furniture also looks amazing when done correctly. It adds character and style to a room that you just don’t get from your standard flat pack furniture.
You can find shops in your area that sell upcycled and vintage furniture by searching online and looking in your local charity shops. Another fantastic place to look for second hand furniture is on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.
10. Second Hand Toys
A poll by the British Heart Foundation found that over a quarter of parents have thrown away toys that are undamaged and still in working order. Their survey of 2,000 parents also highlighted that, on average, children have four toys they’ve never played with. Those are some pretty scary stats right there!
Reusing second hand toys is the easiest way to prevent perfectly good toys going to waste. Second hand toy shops and charity shops are a good place to start if you’re looking to pick some up.
But there are even ways to make use of second hand toys for free! You could arrange a toy swap with friends or family with children of a similar age or that have outgrown their toys. By swapping them you buy less whilst your kids still get the thrill of something they haven’t played with before.
Toy libraries are also a great way to mix up your toys without buying new. You can borrow and return them like you would with a book at a typical library. The easiest way to find them is just to search for the term toy library and your area.
11. Second Hand Books
If the zero waster in your life is an avid reader then they’re sure to appreciate some second hand books. You can find a great selection of second hand books in most charity shops as well as from websites like Awesome Books which have a mix of new and used books.
You could even pass on books that you have read and are finished with. They will be appreciated even more if they come with a personal recommendation!
I’m a big fan of audiobooks as they’re a great way to enjoy books when you are on the go or if you just want to chill out and relax without staring at a screen or page. Listening to a book also brings it to life in a way that reading it can’t do as well.
If you’d like to introduce someone to audiobooks a subscription to Audible is the ideal place to start. I get all my audiobooks from Audible and they have a huge variety to choose from. You also get a free book with their 30 day free trial. After that their credit based payment system for subscribers means you can save a lot on the individual prices of books too.
13. Kindle E-books
For those who would still rather read their books doing it digitally means less books kicking around the house. If they don’t already own an e-book reader then a Kindle would make a fantastic gift that can be used again and again. Instead of buying a new one you can check websites like eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace for second hand ones.
If they already have a Kindle then a Kindle Unlimited subscription would make an amazing zero waste gift. This gives you free access to over a million titles including e-books, audiobooks and magazines. Similar to Audible there is a 30 day free trial when you sign up to Kindle Unlimited.
Zero Waste Gift Products
So those are your options for a zero waste gift that doesn’t involve buying any new things but if you do want to get something here are some products that help to cut waste.
Before you go and buy anything though it is worth checking if your intended recipient actually needs it. A zero waste gift can still create waste if it isn’t required so always keep that in mind too.
14. Reusable Coffee Cup
Takeaway coffee cups are a massive generator of waste as they cannot be easily recycled due to their plastic lining. The best solution is a reusable coffee cup that you can use over and over again. Our bamboo coffee cups are made from naturally sustainable bamboo making them the perfect alternative to disposable cups.
15. Safety Razors
Another source of single use plastic waste that can be easily avoided is disposable razors. Safety razors are a much more sustainable alternative and make a great zero waste gift. They are built to last and are usually made of materials like bamboo, steel or chrome.
The only waste created is from the steel blades. Whilst you can recycle the steel they often aren’t allowed as part of kerbside recycling as they pose an obvious safety risk.
I recommend this bamboo safety razor as it’s durable, looks great and is made from eco-friendly bamboo. It also comes with a really handy user guide.
16. Bamboo Toothbrush
It is estimated that we throw away 264 million plastic toothbrushes in the UK every year. That’s a lot of plastic waste that we can easily avoid by switching to a more sustainable alternative like these bamboo toothbrushes. They are hygienically sealed using a plant-based biodegradable eco wrap made from tree cellulose. You can even subscribe and get them sent out as often as you need them.
17. Bento Lunch Box
We are all guilty of grabbing a quick lunch on the go when we’re busy at work but these are also a huge source of single use plastic waste. A little planning in advance can help cut this out as well as cutting the cost of lunch as well.
Taking your lunch with you to work in a reusable bento lunch box is the most sustainable option and they also make a great zero waste gift. I like this bamboo bento box because it is so versatile as well as being microwave and dishwasher safe.
18. Reusable Cutlery
Disposable plastic cutlery are one of the ten most common plastic objects found on European beaches. So if you are looking for a zero waste gift that means you can eat out without adding to single use plastic pollution a reusable cutlery set is ideal.
This bamboo cutlery travel set includes a knife, fork, spoon and straw in a jute travel pouch so it is convenient and easy to carry around. You can easily clean the utensils after use in the dishwasher or by hand. Designed to be durable and long-lasting so they can be reused many times.
19. Zero Waste Books
If you’d like to help someone with advice on their zero waste journey then there are some great books available which make fantastic gifts. Our post on 5 Amazing Zero Waste Books You Must Read is the perfect place to start.
Bonus Zero Waste Gift Ideas
So that’s it but if there was nothing there that took your fancy and you’re still looking for that perfect zero waste gift idea then have a look at our list of 30 Eco-Friendly Bamboo Products To Reduce Plastic Waste. It is packed full of great sustainable alternatives made from naturally sustainable bamboo.