‘Tis the season to be (and give) merry, but all that goodhearted gift-giving can cause a glut of excess waste if we’re not careful. If greener giving is on your wish list this year, we’ve rounded up some zero-waste gift ideas – from smart reusable tools to thoughtful homemade offerings to luxurious beauty gifts (sans the extra plastic and packaging) – to help get you started.
Under $15: Sustainable Swabs
Little things add up. Whether you’re shopping for a makeup lover or anyone who uses single-use cotton swabs (so, most people), you can give the gift of less waste. Designed with a soft-feel tip, LastSwab reusable swabs can be cleaned with soap and water – which means it replaces more than a thousand single-use swabs. LastSwab Beauty, LastSwab, $12.
Under $15: Soap Saver
Looking for a beauty gift that also cuts down on waste? A reusable soap bag makes it easy to scrub up, while also keeping those small bits of soap from going down the drain. Eco Bags Natural Cotton Soap Bag, Amazon, $9.
Related: 15 Ways to Reuse Your Old Bathtub After a Renovation
Under $15: A Stash for Snacks
Cutting back on plastic and waste doesn’t mean cutting back on delicious snacks, but it does make it more difficult to carry them on the go. A self-sealing, reusable, non-plastic Stasher bag is a safer alternative to plastic bags with no petroleum, PVC or latex. Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag, Amazon, $15.
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Under $15: Paper Bag, but Make it Washable
Paper bags are convenient, but lack longevity. Give an affordable gift that lasts (and that the receiver will actually use) with a washable paper bag from UASHMAMA. Made from a virgin fiber through cultivation (not deforestation), this paper washes like fabric to hold its form. Avana Paper Bag, UASHMAMA, $10.
Related: 5 DIY Wrapping Paper Ideas Made With Household Items
Under $15: Grow a Green Gift
When it comes to zero-waste presents, it doesn’t get much greener than the gift of a living plant. Plants add cheer and style to a space and they make for a thoughtful, beautiful gift without the plastic and packaging. Not sure whether your gift recipient has a green thumb? Try something low maintenance like a succulent, gift seeds for a favourite flower or opt for another easy-to-care-for indoor plant.
Related: 20 Tips to Get Your Christmas Cactus to Bloom During the Holidays
Under $15: A Taste of Home
Perhaps the tastiest plastic-free gift idea? If you have a knack for baking, whip up a homemade gift of a batch of a family favourite cookie or sweet treat to give to friends. Use staple ingredients you have at home or find a new recipe online.
Related: Bryan Baeumler Shares His Favourite Family Traditions During the Holidays
Under $25: Fresher Beans, Less Landfill
There’s nothing wrong with being a coffee aficionado, but those disposable containers used to bring home the beans can add up to a lot of hidden waste. Öko Creations‘ reusable, washable coffee bag makes a great zero-waste holiday gift for your favourite caffeine fiend – it’s made of durable hemp and features a waterproof, food-grade film that will keep beans or tea leaves fresh. Reusable Coffee Bag, Öko Creations, $17.
Under $25: A Clear Solution
Sometimes, you need to order your coffee to go, but you don’t want to leave behind a paper cup with every latte. A 12-oz glass travel mug – like this plastic-free and BPA-free option – is sized right for using at coffee shops and cafes, making it a great gift for a coffee lover who’s always on the go. Neon Kactus Coffee Cup, Amazon, $23.
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Under $25: A Round and a Round Again
They say beauty isn’t easy, but making your beauty routine more sustainable can be. Unwrapped Life‘s reusable, machine-washable cosmetic rounds replace a disposable product that many people use every day for makeup removal or skin care – which make a multi-pack a truly beautiful (and zero-waste) gift. Reusable Organic Bamboo Rounds, Unwrapped Life, $17.
Under $25: Laundry Day Solutions
A zero-waste gift that makes clothes smell fresh and feel soft? These wool fabric-softener dryer balls replace disposable dryer sheets – reducing waste and saving money year-round. Dark Wool Dryer Balls, Amazon, $22.
Related: This Eco-Conscious Montreal Home Definitely Isn’t Afraid of Colour
Under $25: Napkins to Spare
Bring a touch of zero-waste style to the home with a set of cloth napkins in a design to highlight dining room decor. Reusable and machine washable, cloth napkins cut back on waste from single-use paper napkins – and they look great, too. DII Oversized Cotton Napkins, Amazon, $22.
Related: 15 Cutest Eco-Friendly Back-to-School Finds That Adults Will Want to Steal
Under $25: Cutlery to Go
Eating on the run is inevitable, but single-use plastic utensils don’t have to be. A portable set like this one on Amazon – which includes a fork, knife, spoons, chopsticks, straws, cleaning brushes and storage bag – makes it easy and convenient to avoid throwaway utensils (without having to eat a hot lunch with your hands). Bump this gift up to the next level by including a homemade meal for your recipient to test the cutlery out on. Gugrida Black Reusable Utensils With Case, Amazon, $19.
Related: Last-Minute Holiday Gifts Hand Selected by an HGTV Designer
Under $25: Sustainable Sips
Whether you’re wearing lipstick or you just want to take a sip, there are times when you just want to enjoy your beverage through a straw. However, with plastic straws being among the most common kinds of marine litter (and with Canada’s ban on single-use plastics coming into effect as early as 2021), it’s best to opt for a more sustainable option – like Unwrapped Life‘s stainless steel straws in a travel-ready linen pouch. Reusable Stainless Steel Drinking Straws, Unwrapped Life, $18.
Related: 10 Products That Will Help Canadians Transition to a Plastic-Free Household
Under $25: Cover Up
A more sustainable (and stylish) way to keep food fresh: reusable fabric bowl covers. They make a fun-meets-functional, zero-waste gift – especially when they come in a pretty designs like this one from Your Green Kitchen. Large Unwaxed Fabric Bowl Cover, Your Green Kitchen, $16.
Related: How to Clean Your Kitchen Using All-Natural Solutions to Save You Time and Money
Under $25: The Bee’s Knees
Another charmingly giftable option for your fave foodie or home chef? A set of beeswax wraps. They are the perfect plastic-free gift idea, as a replacement for disposable plastic wrap and single-use plastic containers. BUZZEE Organic Beeswax Wraps, Amazon, $18.
Under $50: A Solid Hair Routine
The secret to good hair days, without the waste? Each of Unwrapped Life‘s shampoo or conditioner bars offer the equivalent to two-to-three 16-oz bottles of liquid product (or about 50-75 washes). Havana Shampoo Bar and Conditioner Bar, Unwrapped Life, $30.
Under $50: Composting is Cool
For the eco-friendly newbie, composting can be intimidating, so make the process clean and simple with a sleek, smartly designed food-waste caddy. This compact caddy features a ventilated design and replaceable odor filter to cut back on odors – and encourage more composting. Joseph Joseph Intelligent Waste Compost Bin Food Waste Caddy, Amazon, $36.
Any Budget: A Big-Impact Gift Card
Want to give the gift of zero waste, but not sure what’s best? A gift card to a zero-waste grocery store (like Nada Grocery in Vancouver, Unboxed Market in Toronto or The Tare Shop in Halifax) gives its recipient an experience in shopping packaging free.
Related: Mike Holmes Reveals the Smartest Ways to Go Green at Home
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