The Ultimate Zero Waste Holiday Gift Guide

The Ultimate Zero Waste Holiday Gift Guide
4 Minute Read


You survived Thanksgiving dinner with offensive Uncle Bill (and no one brought up politics). That’s a total win!


Now let’s cut to the chase:  

“In the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, American households generate 25% more waste.”

That’s about 1 million extra tons of trash each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.” A lot of this waste can be attributed to wrapping paper, boxes, and packaging from gifts, so I’ve created a Zero Waste Holiday Gift Guide to help you curb your holiday trash this year.

12 Zero Waste Holiday Gift Guide Ideas:

Night at the Movies

Image of a Movie Theatre

  • Winter is here…and you know what that means…LOTS OF MOVIES!!
  • AMC and Regal both offer online gift certificates (these can be redeemed via smartphone to avoid paper printouts)
  • Most local movie theaters offer gift certificates (be sure to ask for an email certificate to avoid unnecessary paper).

Travel Certificate

Image of a world map

  • More and more people are valuing experiences rather than things, which is why the gift of travel is a real treat!
  • Airlines like Delta and American have online gift cards, as do many others
  • and AirBnB also allow a ton of flexibility as they don’t lock you into a specific brand.

Charity Donation

Image of one person giving a charity donation

 Dinner at a Favorite Restaurant

Image of sushi and chopsticks

  • Its easy to get the scoop on what they like without giving anything away–just ask…they don’t have to know what it’s for 🙂
  • Great for foodies

Spa Voucher

Image of a spa lotus flower

  • The gift of relaxation? Ummm…yes plz! Who wouldn’t want this….well maybe someone who doesn’t like getting touched? In which case, maybe they really need it…
  • Every single massage therapist/spa offers these, even the shady joint down the corner. Trust me, I checked!

Buy Used

Image of a Flea Market sign

  • Used products reduce your carbon footprint because they do not require the extraction, manufacturing, or transportation of new resources, also know as the ‘provision of goods‘.
  • With so many great finds on Craigslist and AptDeco, buying used is the new “new”.

Concert/Theatre Tickets

Image of concert tickets, the perfect addition to this zero waste holiday gift guide

  • Ticketmaster is a great resource to see what’s playing in your town.
  • Hamilton!!…just kidding, we all know those tickets are crazy expensive
  • Off-Broadway • Comedy Clubs • Cirque du Soleil

Online Gift Card

Image of an e-gift card, a perfect addition to this zero waste holiday gift guide

  • I don’t know what took them so long, but Apple finally came out with online iTunes gift cards.
  • A few of my favorite sustainably minded stores are: Life Without Plastic and EarthHero.
  • And of course, everyone’s main squeeze: Amazon

Make Something!

Image of a Homemade Jar of Pickles

  • Homemade Almond Milk • Homemade Pickles
  • Trinidad’s famous Ponche-de-Creme (think egg-nog but with lots of RUM!)
  • Why is food the only thing coming to mind? lol

Write a Letter:

Image of a Dear Mom Letter

There were a few years where either I (or one of my siblings) was really tight on cash, so we decided to write each other letters instead of giving gifts. To this day, I still have those letters and will probably hold onto them for far too long.

Plantable Colored Pencils

Get it Online »

Image of Sprout Colored Pencils, the perfect addition to this holiday gift guide

  • Colored pencils that have a compostable herb pack at the end.
  • When the pencil gets too short, plant the nubbin and you can grow an entire herb garden
  • Seeds are non-GMO and pesticide-free
  • Hand-made in the USA from sustainably harvested cedar

Reclaimed Wooden Planter

Get it on Etsy »

Image of Reclaimed Wooden Planter

  • Hand-made in Brooklyn, NY from reclaimed barn wood
  • Limited Edition of 2
  • Made by mama eco



Have questions or comments about my Holiday Gift Guide?

I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Zero Waste Holiday Gift Guide”

  • Love your blog and this post! I have been thinking of Christmas a lot lately, because it is such a great time of year- but inevitably brings up the issue of gifts. For me, I always try to buy quality products for myself so I extend that to my gift giving as well. My sister is not overly eco friendly and all she wanted for Christmas was a sweater from the Brunette label… not eco-friendly materials or made locally, but they are good quality so I bought her one and one only! I love getting people dinners out too, great suggestion! My friend who is new to the zero-waste community is getting a gift card to the Soap Dispensary in Vancouver from me. But my favourite zero-waste gift is some beautiful beeswax candles (love the smell) with a cute glass holder and maybe a bottle of wine (organic and vegan if you can). Who doesn’t love a candle, and wine is always appreciated if someone isn’t not drinking. I loved these ideas- thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks Alyssa! I’m glad you got some inspiration from the post. Looks like you still made the best choice you could regarding your sister’s gift. I sometimes find myself torn when one ethical decision cancels out another. The main thing is you do the best you can. Stay tuned for next week’s post, which is about zero waste holiday entertaining!

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