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 a selection we’ve carefully picked out of the best zero-waste gifts for the eco-minded people in your life.
25 Best Zero Waste Gifts (& Plastic Free)
Or as near to as we could find. We hope you enjoy our selections!
1. Reusable Coffee Cups
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 that manufacturers use to glue the paper together and ensure 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 landfills.
With all that in mind, reusable coffee cups or tumblers make great zero-waste gift ideas. As such, we’ve popped the below reusable coffee cup picks right up at the top of our list of awesome gift ideas without the plastic guilt. Your loved ones should all have one. We also have a list of strainers, reusable pots, and more in our guide to zero-waste coffee to complete a waste-free brew.
Reusable coffee cups on Amazon:
2. An Audible Subscription
An audible subscription is one of those low-waste gift ideas 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 perfect zero-waste gift. They’re so popular that 20% of Americans now listen to audiobooks. Listen on the go, enjoy the classics and new releases, and discover new authors.
Zero waste listening for the perfect gift
Being digital subscriptions, these are genuinely plastic-free, zero-waste gifts. Grab audiobook subscriptions for no plastic packaging, no waste, just the world's largest selection of audiobooks to stream to the device of your choice.
3. 4Ocean Bracelet
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.
A zero-waste gift that gives back
They then use their profits to help grow their positive impact on plastic in the oceans. The bracelets support their work, and they also donate to ocean-related non-profits.
In this case, a recycled plastic gift with a pound of plastic cleared from the ocean. Not only will you help reduce trash from the sea, but you’ll also inspire the recipient of these planet-friendly gifts to take steps on their own zero-waste journey. What’s not to like?
4. Stainless Steel Lunch Box
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 manufacturing, the carbon footprint of shipping goods across the country, and the impact of food waste.
Thus, we should go for a plastic-free packed lunch to avoid food waste. Are you looking for healthier zero, zero-waste gift ideas for lunchtime eating? We recommend a healthy, packed lunch. And every packed-luncher should have a plastic-free lunchbox in their zero-waste living essentials to keep food fresh.
Gift this zero-waste essential
Therefore, these rather snappy dishwasher-safe metal containers for your sandwiches and other goodies make for a great gift. Just fill them with homemade cookies before wrapping them for an extra big smile to add a personal touch.
Even better, according to Voucher Cloud, if you bring a packed lunch to work every day, you stand to save around $15000 a year. Everyone pursuing a zero-waste lifestyle should have one and can save a little money, too, to boot.
Zero-waste lunch boxes on Amazon:
For more options, check out our selection of the best eco-friendly lunch boxes.
5. Pela Non-Plastic Phone Case
We can’t do without our mobile phones! Our phones have become ever-present, so much so that a study found that nearly three-quarters of Americans sleep with their mobile phones. 3% with them in their hands!3
Thus, to help us extend our phones’ lives, biodegradable phone cases from Pela make for another excellent 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 18 months. As such, a chunk of those 1BN plastic phone cases inevitably ends up discarded each year. That’s a lot of plastic.
Give phone protection better for the planet.
Choosing a Pela case will provide you with the phone protection that you need and help some of that non-renewable plastic ever get made in the first place. Choose one of these unisex, sustainable zero waste gifts people love to buy, and they also give a percentage of profits to help organizations clean the ocean.
6. Bamboo Travel Utensil Set
Are you looking for zero-waste gift ideas for a frequent traveler? We all love seeing the world, which is undoubtedly one of life's more enriching pastimes.
Go for waste-free eating with these bamboo travel utensil sets to kick off your more sustainable travel adventure. The perfect low-waste gifts for travelers come with a spoon, fork, knife, and reusable drinking straws. Handy pouches mean plastic-free packaging for your cutlery and fair trade production, all adding to their sustainable living qualities.
Bamboo Travel Utensil Sets on Amazon:
7. Vivobarefoot Shoes
Following in the adventurous spirit, we can’t neglect what we wear on our feet.
There are 20 billion 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 is a sustainable footwear company aiming to use 90% sustainable materials across its range by 2020. They use recycled materials from 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 (and excellent gifts) for hiking, training, and other activities using sustainable vegan materials.
8. Blue Planet II
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 in plastic pollution, have changed their behavior towards plastic.
An educational, inspiring, and motivating zero-waste gift
Hence, this makes a great idea for zero-waste gifts and those looking toward our plastic-free future. Or that you feel might like a gentle reminder of why the reducing waste issue remains one that we should all pay attention to.
9. Tea Pigs
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 and has become hugely popular. According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, we drink around 60 billion cups of the stuff every year.
You may not realize that plastic typically makes up to 25% of your standard teabag. And around 96% of the tea we drink comes from tea bags. Manufacturers use polypropylene to seal the edges and help the bags stay together when immersed in hot water. Thus, your everyday plastic-bearing tea bag will never actually fully biodegrade.
Meanwhile, Tea Pigs have always been free from plastic and more eco-friendly. 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 zero-waste gift ideas for a loved one, and they even call their tea bags “temples.”
10. Loose Tea Strainers
Following on the tea tip, these loose tea strainers are another solution to single-use plastic-containing tea bags. Perfect for zero-waste tea parties and everyday use, buy tea loose from eco-friendly tea brands just like we used to 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.
Loose Tea Strainers on Amazon:
Not quite right? We've got a whole list over here of some of the best reusable tea bags and strainers for lots more choices.
11. Naturally Sensible Reusable Produce Bags
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 to the supermarket shop, each use can help reduce waste.
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, unlike those nasty single-use plastic bags. Grab a reusable produce bag online below or at your local zero-waste store for zero-waste packaging of every fruit and veg shop.
You'll also find these often packaged in zero-waste starter kits.
12. Wildwood Eyewear Plastic-free Sunglasses
Many of us will have a pair of plastic-rimmed sunglasses kicking about in a drawer somewhere that we bought, having forgotten or lost our favorite pair. Walking around any seaside town or city, many stores will have stands of cheap plastic sunglasses outside. Many of these inferior 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.
If your giftee likes water sports, then it is even better as they float! Wildwood handcrafts its frames from bamboo, maple, and walnut. Each comes in a protective bamboo case for plastic wrap-free packaging. Brilliant zero-waste gifts - perfect for both sexes.
We have a great selection of eco-friendly bamboo, and wooden sunglass choices over here should these not quite suit you.
13. Nature's Way Bee House
However, we’re witnessing across the globe a decline in the bee population. Scientists attribute the decline in bees to a loss of natural habitats2 such as wildflower meadows and agricultural chemicals.
We can all do a bunch of small things to help protect the bees. Suppose you have a garden with bee-friendly plants such as lavender and rosemary. You can also look up local hives near you and support them by buying their honey.
Looking after the bees and nature the zero waste way
And bees need homes, which makes homes for bees another excellent option for zero-waste gifts. Giving these good-looking, colorful bee houses to your loved one is a unique, eco-friendly contribution to a bee-friendly garden.
14. Zero Waste Sunscreen
While talking of being in the sun, a simple yet entirely worthy zero-waste 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, and they also contain a range of chemicals to protect your skin, known as nanoparticles. 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 zero-waste 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 a non-nano particle. This holiday season, the makers claim it’s the perfect gift alternative to the big brands in plastic bottles.
Or browse from our list of 10 of the best zero-waste sunscreens.
15. S’well Bottle
Of course, coffee cups form only part of the problem with how we stay hydrated. In today’s increasingly plastic-concerned world, many narratives have focused on the environmental impact of single-use plastic water bottles.
And for a good reason. In the US, 50 billion water bottles are shipped 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 perfect for a loved one’s sustainable lifestyle. The high-grade stainless steel insulation keeps drinks cold all day long with a mouth that fits ice cubes. At the same time, hot drinks stay hot for 12 hours.
S'well's success 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 to reduce plastic waste. Great zero-waste gifts should all have qualities similar to these low-waste, non-toxic, reusable essentials.
16. Soy Wax Scented Candles
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 gift for men or women without waste.
Each eco-friendly 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 for re-use.
17. Stainless Steel Metal Straws
Still, on the hydration tip, a set of stainless steel drinking straws is next on our list of zero-waste gift ideas. At TRVST, we wrote all about the environmental impact of plastic straws a while back.
No doubt, plastic straws are merely the tip of the plastic iceberg. In fact, by percentage, they only form a minimal amount of plastic pollution.
A zero-waste gift that'll last perfectly for just about anyone
All the same, by carrying these eco-friendly 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 notch up your sustainable living creds by never having to use a plastic straw again.
Stainless steel straws on Amazon:
Or for other options, including silicone and glass varieties, have a browse of 7 of the best reusable straws
18. Vegan Hair Conditioning Bar
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 to condition her hair without plastic bottles. Shampoo bars make a great addition to a plastic-free bathroom.
You’ll find loads online, and your local zero-waste store will most likely have a great range if you prefer to check out the scent in advance.
19. Wool Dryer Balls
They say that adding one of these colorful dryer balls to your laundry reduces drying time by 30-50%. Help save electricity when you choose these colorful energy savers. Each ball will last for up to 100 days. And with the machine running for up to half the time each laundry bag is full, that is a good win. And what’s more, they make a perfect chemical-free alternative to disposable dryer sheets.
These cute rainbow numbers pictured come in a random grab bag of various sizes. Pick them up on Etsy with a click below.
20.Natural Vegan Deodorant
These vegan and cruelty-free eco-friendly 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 contains none of the harmful chemicals found in traditional deodorants. Leak-proof, BPA-free, and long-lasting, these make a great alternative to standard deodorant and excellent zero-waste gift ideas.
Or, for more choices, there's another bunch of the best zero-waste deodorants over here.
21. Bath Salts
Bath salts are one of those plastic-free gifts that everyone loves to receive. We’ve picked out these lovely handcrafted salts in glass jars. Perfect for a relaxing treat and holidays, as well as a zero-waste stocking stuffer. Check these ones out on Etsy.
22. A Kindle Cover
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 the zero-waste way.
23. Give to a Good Cause on Their Behalf
Some people will love the fact that you have thought about them and the causes that they care about.
Whether 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. When we give 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 the perfect experience gift happens to include tickets to an event, consider an accompanying zero-waste reusable mug or refillable bottle for soda or drinks. You can also add a voucher to a zero-waste starter kit for everything they might need.
More options: 20 Experience Gift Ideas
Memberships related to their interests make for excellent zero-waste gift ideas. You can avoid the packaging of waste of physical gifts and give memberships to the local gym, running club, or similar clubs related to your favorite hobby. They also make perfect presents when it comes to searching for zero-waste Christmas gifts.
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 eco-friendly gift 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
|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.