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Zero Waste Gift Ideas


Gifting a zero-waste gift is easier than you think! We’ve compiled and tested out some great strategies for zero-waste gift-giving to make your spirits bright while incorporating zero-waste habits.


Cute wrapping paper and fancy bows are often all too tempting at the store. However, going more sustainable with your wrapping can help you personalize your gifts and save money. These are just a few alternative materials that you can use during the holidays to replace single-use wrapping:

  • Fabric Scraps. For smaller gifts, use fabric scraps from an old sewing project like t-shirts, tablecloths, sheets, or curtains, and turn them into something useful. All you need to do is simply cut a square piece, gather it at the top of the box and tie it together.
  • Newspaper. Newspapers make 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 or trash bags but they also make for great gift-wrapping material. You can get creative and draw on them for an added look!
  • Reusable bags. Utilize a reusable bag to wrap your gift. Many reusable bags are sold at grocery stores or thrift stores. Wrapping only lasts a few days but reusable bags can last a lifetime!
  • Cloth, scarf, or handkerchief. Wrap your gift in a vintage handkerchief, cloth napkin, or scarf for two gifts in one!
  • Reused gift bags or gift wrap. Keep all gift bags you receive and reuse them when needed!
  • Or just skip the wrapping! What matters is on the inside, right? 😉 

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. You can even add leaves and pine cones that you pick up on your walks!

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 second-hand 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 beeswax candles, bird feeders, scarves, or make your own handmade soap.
  • 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!
  • Share your Favorite 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.
  • 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.

The best gifts are always the ones well thought out. Although the holidays are challenging to be zero waste, it gives an extra push to get creative and find environmentally friendly items that will truly be used by the person receiving the gift. We hope you consider these zero-waste practices when finding gifts for your special ones this holiday.