Gift buying can be a challenge for anyone. Coming up with eco-friendly, zero waste gifts is even more tasking once you attempt the search. As we celebrate special events and seasons with the people in our lives, we should remember to consciously pick items that will eventually cause little to no harm to our environment.
Are you looking for gift inspiration? Here is our selection of zero waste gift ideas for the eco-minded people in your life. Our list below comprises a range of plastic-free gifts we think will be suitable for all types of people.
Or as near plastic-free as we could find. We hope you enjoy our selections!
Across the world, we manufacture half a trillion disposable coffee cups each year. If you do the math, that’s 70 paper cups for every single person on the planet.
Most paper cups contain around 5% plastic. Manufacturers use plastic to glue the paper together as well as ensuring they are watertight.
Because of their plastic content, composting and recycling a coffee cup isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Some studies suggest that less than 1% of disposable coffee cups get recycled with much of the rest ending up in landfill.
With all that in mind, zero waste reusable coffee cups or tumblers make top contenders in your plastic-free gift list. Your loved ones should all have one.
An audible subscription is the perfect zero waste gift for anyone on the move who loves reading books and learning.
Whereas we love a good book, sometimes our daily routines don’t always allow the luxury of quiet time to read. Audiobooks are the answer. Listen on the go and enjoy the classics, new releases, and discover new authors. They’re so popular that 20% of Americans now listen to audio books2
Being a digital subscription, these are genuinely zero waste gifts. An Audible subscription provides access to the world's largest selection of books.
4Ocean is a pretty neat company. They have a simple mission, to do their bit to help end the ocean plastic crisis. As a for-profit company, their unique business model sells bracelets, and for each one sold, they promise to pull a pound of plastic from the ocean.
They then use their profits to help grow their positive impact on plastic in the oceans. The bracelets they support their work, but they also donate to ocean-related non-profits.
In this case, a recycled plastic gift with a pound of plastic cleared from the ocean, what’s not to like!
The days of being sent off to school with a ham sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a little carton of juice in a plastic lunch box may fill you with a bit of nostalgia. But don’t fret, the packed lunch is making a comeback!
When we buy our lunches, they are likely to include plastic wraps, cups, straws, bottles, and bags. And that’s before we consider the impact of manufacture, shipping goods across the country, and the impact of food waste.
Thus, we should go for a plastic-free packed lunch. Are you looking for healthier and zero waste gift ideas for lunchtime eating? We recommend a healthy, packed lunch and gift these rather snappy zero waste metal lunch boxes to show off your eco-friendly ways.
Even better, according to voucher cloud, if you bring a packed lunch to work every day, you stand to save around £1200 a year. Every zero waster should have one.
We can’t do without our mobile phones! They are ever-present in our lives. So much so that a study found that nearly three-quarters of Americans sleep with their mobile phones. 3% with them in their hands!4
Thus, to help us extend our phones’ lives, biodegradable phone cases from Pela make for another excellent plastic-free zero waste gift idea.
According to Pela, the industry makes 1BN plastic phone cases every year. These days, people tend to keep their phones for only about 18months. As such, a chunk of that 1BN inevitably gets discarded each year. That’s a lot of plastic.
Choosing a Pela case will provide you with the phone protection that you need and help some of that non-renewable plastic ever getting made in the first place. And they also give a percentage of profits to help organizations clean the ocean.
Are you looking for a zero waste gift for a frequent traveller? We love seeing the world, which is, no doubt, one of life's more enriching pastimes.
To kick off your more sustainable travel adventure, go for plastic-free eating with these bamboo travel utensil sets. The perfect zero waste gifts for travelers come with a spoon, fork, knife, and reusable drinking straws.
Following in the adventurous spirit, we can’t neglect what we wear on our feet.
There are 20bn pairs of shoes made every year. A study by MIT found that each running shoe produced generates around 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
Vivobarefoot shoes are a sustainable footwear company that aims to use 90% sustainable materials across its range by 2020. They use recycled plastic PET bottles to make a lot of the materials for their shoes.
They have even created the world’s first shoe made from algae. The result is a shoe that uses 52% less energy than standard petroleum-based manufacture.
So, if that particular person in your life enjoys outdoor activities, then they will love Vivobarefoot’s eco-friendly adventure footwear. Vivobarefoot makes the perfect shoes for hiking, training, and other activities using sustainable vegan materials.
David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II first debuted in October 2017. Blue Planet II is an incredible exposé of life in and around the planet’s oceans. His crew filmed Blue Planet II over four years and across 125 expeditions creating seven breathtaking episodes.
Many now widely regard the show as having played a significant role in raising awareness about plastic pollution. Research shows that 88% of people who watched the last episode which majored around plastic waste have changed their behavior towards plastic.
Hence, this makes a great zero waste gift idea for those looking towards our plastic-free future. Or that you feel might like a gentle reminder of why the plastic waste issue remains one that we should all pay attention to.
Some of you might ask - plastic-free tea? Isn’t all tea plastic-free? Sadly not. Tea first found its way to the UK in the 17th century via the East India Company. Tea drinking has become hugely popular since. According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, we drink around 60 billion cups of the stuff every year.
And around 96% of the tea we drink comes from tea bags. Plastic typically makes up to 25% of your standard teabag. Manufacturers use polypropylene to seal the edges and help the bags stay together when immersed in hot water. Thus your standard plastic bearing tea bag will never actually fully biodegrade.
Meanwhile, Tea Pigs have always been plastic-free. They concoct quality tea blends, using whole tea leaves coupled with herbs, flowers, and spices. There’s a flavor just right for each family member.
We love Tea Pigs! Each tea infusion comes encased in a biodegradable mesh bag for a fuller flavor. They make great gifts, and they even call their tea bags, “temples.”
Following on the tea tip, these loose tea strainers are another solution to plastic containing tea bags. Perfect for zero waste tea parties and everyday use, buy tea loose just like we used too and gift these infusers. Purchase these items and add a little bit of nostalgia and craft to our tea-drinking experience amongst our busy lifestyles.
These versatile reusable produce bags are great gifts for zero wasters and eco-minded loved ones. Perfect for slipping into a purse or backpack and carrying it to the supermarket shop, each use can help prevent a little waste of plastic. Fill them with organic vegetables and rest well in the knowledge each use saves some trash going to landfills. And of course, you can reuse them as much as you like.
A lot of us will have a pair of plastic rimmed sunglasses kicking about a draw somewhere that we bought had forgotten or lost our favorite pair. Walking around any seaside town or city and many of the stores will have stands of cheap plastic sunglasses outside. Many of these cheap varieties will never make the recycling bin, let alone last.
Wildwood eyewear produces its frames from sustainably sourced wood materials. Yes, they still make the lenses from plastic. However, this is the case for pretty much every modern sunglass brand. Not least plastic is lighter, cheaper, and doesn't shatter, unlike the other option, glass.
Wildwood handcrafts their frames from bamboo, maple, and walnut. Each comes in a protective bamboo case. Brilliant zero waste gifts perfect for both sexes. If your giftee likes water sports, then even better as they float!
However, we’re witnessing across the globe a decline in the bee population. Scientists attribute the decline in bees to a loss of natural habitats3 such as wildflower meadows and agricultural chemicals.
There’s a bunch of small things we can all do to help protect the bees. Suppose you have a garden plant bee-friendly plants such as lavender and rosemary. You can also lookup if there are local hives near you and support them by buying their honey.
And bees need homes which make homes for bees another excellent idea for zero waste gifts. Giving these good looking colorful bee hotels to your loved one is a unique contribution to a bee-friendly garden.
Made from solid wood, they deliver each Bee Hotel in recyclable boxes and environmentally friendly packaging. You can even add a gift box for a little bit extra at checkout.
While talking of being in the sun, a simple yet entirely worthy plastic-free gift is this cardboard tube of plastic-free sunscreen.
Most of the sunscreen you pick up at the chemist or supermarket comes in plastic bottles, but they also contain a range of chemicals to protect your skin. Often these chemicals, known as nanoparticles, are tiny. These chemicals, when washed off, can stay in our water and cause harm to marine life. These particles can cause coral bleaching, which is killing coral around the world.
The primary win here for this plastic-free gift guide is that this natural sunscreen comes without plastic packaging. This zero-waste sunscreen uses nature's alternatives to chemical-based sunscreen, including coconut oil, which provides an SPF of 5-10 and cocoa butter. Add in some naturally occurring zinc oxide, which is non-nano particle, and the makers claim its great alternative to the big brands in plastic bottles.
Of course, coffee cups form only part of the problem with how we stay hydrated. In today’s increasingly plastic concerned world, a lot of the narrative has focused on single-use water bottles.
And for a good reason. In the US 50bn, water bottles ship every year. On average, that makes for about 13 bottles of water per month for every person living in the United States. Incredibly of all the plastic produced, only 9 percent gets recycled.
S’well produces “Crave Worthy” water bottle designs and over 200 different styles. Plus, S’well bottles function well for both hot and cold drinks.
With a mouth that fits ice cubes, the high-grade stainless steel insulation keeps drinks cold all day long. At the same time, hot drinks stay hot for 12 hours.
The success of S’well has spawned plenty of imitators. Regardless of your reusable bottle choice, you know that avoiding a plastic bottle of water from the supermarket is indeed the right thing to do.
Soy wax candles don’t use paraffin, which is a petroleum-based product. It’s not strictly plastic, but choosing this set of three hand-poured scented fragrances is an excellent plastic-free gift for men or women.
Each candle comes with a vegan-friendly hemp wick in a rose gold tin you can use for storing bits around the house once the candle has finished burning. You can even re-fill them with fairtrade soy wax packaged in a cotton bag [Amazon link] for re-use.
Still, on the hydration tip, our next plastic-free gift idea is a set of stainless steel drinking straws. At TRVST, we wrote all about the environmental impact of plastic straws earlier in the year.
There’s no doubt that plastic straws are merely the tip of the plastic iceberg. In fact, by percentage, they only form a minimal amount of plastic pollution.
All the same, by carrying these reusable straws in your bag, you’ll play a small role in reducing the 500 million straws that research says we use each day in the US.
We particularly like these colorful numbers. This set of 4 comes complete with a cleaner and carry pouch. Look after them, and they’ll last forever, meaning you’ll never have to use a plastic straw again.
This zero-waste Vegan Hair Conditioner bar is made from all-natural ingredients and scented with grapefruit, lemongrass, and essential oils.
She can use it for conditioning her hair without the need for plastic bottles. Shampoo bars make a great addition to a plastic-free bathroom.
Wool dryer balls are said to reduce your laundry drying time by 30-50%. Help save electricity
when you choose these zero waste gifts. Each ball will last for up to 100 drys. And with the machine running for up to half the time each laundry bag full, that is a good win. These cute rainbow wool dryer balls pictured come in a random grab bag of various sizes. Pick them up on Etsy here.
These vegan and cruelty-free deodorant sticks come in a biodegradable cardboard tube, which in itself helps to cut down on waste. This alternative to many of the plastic roll-on and aerosol containers that most deodorant products come in contain none of the harmful chemicals found in traditional deodorants.
Bath salts are one of those gift ideas that everyone loves to receive. We’ve picked out these lovely handcrafted salts in glass jars. Perfect for a relaxing treat and holidays. Check these ones out on Etsy.
If your recipient likes to read and owns a kindle this soft to touch yet sturdy kindle protector not only looks smart but it’s also highly functional. Made from cotton flannel with a herringbone pattern, keep your kindle safe plastic-free.
Some people will love the fact that not only have you thought about them but also about the causes that they care about.
Whether it is planting trees, helping children in need, or helping an abandoned puppy into a home, there are thousands of great causes out there that need our support.
If you think they can do without more stuff and would appreciate helping out a cause close to their heart, consider donating to a related charity.
Many of us don’t need more stuff. As such, when we gift experiences, we can help champion a zero-waste birthday or occasion and create perfect moments for family photos.
As such, tickets to sporting events or concerts make brilliant zero waste gifts. Or gift them a learning experience; yoga, cooking, sports classes, and many more are a google search away.
Where possible, go for digital print free tickets. And if gifting tickets to an event, do consider an accompanying reusable cup or refillable bottle for soda or drinks.
Memberships related to their interests make for excellent gift ideas. You can gift membership to the local gym, running club, or similar club related to their favorite hobby.
If they’re interested in self-improvement, a monthly subscription to a learning platform like Coursera might be just the ticket. Packed full of courses, you’ll find plenty of gifts ideas in there for the zero waster or special someone you’re looking to treat. No time to read? How about a subscription to Audible? [links to Amazon]
|Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. Alexandra-Maria Klein, Bernard E Vaissière, James H Cane, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, Saul A Cunningham, Claire Kremen and Teja Tscharntke. Published:27 October. 2006. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2006.3721|
|Nearly one-in-five Americans now listen to audiobooks. Fact Tank. Pew Research Centre. 2018.|
|Fabrice Requier, Lionel Garnery, Patrick L. Kohl, Henry K. Njovu, Christian W.W. Pirk, Robin M. Crewe, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, The Conservation of Native Honey Bees Is Crucial, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 34, Issue 9, 2019, Pages 789-798, ISSN 0169- 5347, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2019.04.008|
|2018 BAC Trends in Consumer Mobility Report. Bank of America.|