If you're looking to spread a little bit of the joy and purpose that comes with minimizing your waste footprint this holiday season, you may find it challenging to brainstorm gifts for your friends and family who span the full spectrum of low waste expertise and commitment. In good news, there truly are great options for all levels of interest and proficiency! We've broken down some gift ideas to help manifest the intentions of low waste experts and novices alike:
For the Low Waste Novice
Invite your loved one to dip their toes in the world of low waste by starting with swaps that don't interrupt existing habits, or that require minimal effort to incorporate!
- Bamboo toothbrush | They need a toothbrush anyway, so why not try one made with a renewable material that can return to the earth when discarded? What's more, because bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, the lucky toothbrush recipient might even find that the brush lasts longer before it gets icky. Gift a toothbrush that is 100% compostable right down to the bristles, or choose a toothbrush that funds a cause the recipient cares about.
- A used book or a gift card to a used book store | Minimize the resources required to make new books by spreading the joy of used books! Hunt down a book that would make for a perfect personalized gift, or just give a gift card to a local bookshop like Powells in Portland, OR or Verbatim in San Diego, CA.
- Reusable sandwich bag | This swap for disposable baggies requires nearly zero effort to adopt, and makes for a pretty wonderful gift. Not only will the recipient appreciate the durability and good looks of a reusable silicone bag, but they will enjoy cost savings as well! We've estimated that this swap can save frequent users over $1,000 over their lifetimes!
- An on-the-go utensil & straw set | Equip your loved one with the tools to say "no" to plastic cutlery and straws. You can gift a pre-assembled kit that they can stash away in their car, backpack, or purse, or you can even curate your own custom on-the-go kit to make this gift even more personal and special.
- A DIYed goody with instructions for them to take a stab at it, too | If you love making things yourself, you can simultaneously save some money and share the joy of DIY by gifting a homemade good. If you know they will love your concoction, share instructions so they can try making it themselves. Into this idea but not sure what to make? Might we suggest whipped body butter? We also carry an assortment of goods for DIYs, including containers and ingredients!
For the Low Waste Proficient
The Low Waste Proficient is that person in your life who is already taking steps to limit their waste footprint. They are fully willing to make lifestyle changes, and to spend a bit of time and/or money on adopting sustainable swaps. But they aren't looking to revolve their life around it - at least not right now. So they might appreciate a gift that challenges them just the right amount.
- A microplastic washing bag | Someone who has made efforts to reduce their waste may be well aware of the issue of microplastics in the ocean, and the role our synthetic clothes play in the problem. Help them combat the issue on a personal scale with a microplastic washing bag. They're easy to use - the giftee just needs to zip their polyester, nylon, and acrylic clothes in the washing bag before dropping in the washing machine. Pretty minimal effort for the assurance of minimizing plastic in the ocean, wouldn't ya say?
- A cooking class | Becoming more savvy in the kitchen is a great strategy for minimizing waste in more ways than one. Not only can you avoid the excess food waste that often comes with dining out, but making more meals from scratch can help you avoid the packaging waste associated with pre-made meals and processed foods. Hipcooks offers awesome community-focused classes with a variety of cuisines. Their in-person classes are closed due to COVID. Check out their virtual classes in the meantime!
- A subscription to For Days | For Days is a zero waste clothing company that offers a particularly brilliant solution for those of us who are constantly staining and tearing our tees. Once you've gotten all the wears possible out of an article of clothing, you mail it back to be recycled or repurposed, and get a replacement at a discounted price.
- A counter compost bin | Sometimes adopting a new habit like composting is as simple as proximity and convenience. When composting your food scraps calls for a walk outside, that trash bin in your kitchen might start to call to you. So make composting extra seamless for your buddy by setting them up with a receptacle that can sit on their kitchen counter!
- Cloth napkins | While abandoning disposable napkins might feel a little scary for the Low Waste Novice, the Low Waste Proficient is primed for this challenge. Cloth napkins offer the simultaneous benefit of being real cute, and saving the user lots of money. We've estimated that frequent napkin users can save over $12K throughout their lifetimes by switching to reusable!
For the Low Waste Expert
- A membership to, or plot in, a community garden | Growing your own food is a great way to avoid the environmental toll of transporting food, waste in the food supply chain, and the uncertainty about whether your food has sustainable and ethical roots. For the Low Waste Expert who doesn't have the ability to grow food at home, a membership to a community garden could make for a pretty delightful gift.
- A microfiber filter | While a microplastic washing bag offers a great solution for combating plastic pollution, for those who own their own washing machine, a microfiber filter can make this process even more effortless. This device can be installed on your washing machine, and the filter itself just needs to be cleaned after every few washes.
- A class on recycling or composting | For the Expert who is willing and eager to put in the time to really fine tune their knowledge base, the coursework to become a Master Recycler or Master Composter could make for a great gift that will keep on giving.
- Charcoal water filter sticks | Charcoal water filter sticks absorb impurities found in tap water, including chlorine, chloride, phosphorus, ammonia, toluene (alcohol), nitrogen, chloramine (ammonia and chlorine compound added to water to kill pathogens), and even toxins like pesticides. For that someone who looking to simplify their hydration habits and let nature work its course, these filter sticks could serve as a very practical (and good looking) gift. You can even personalize this gift by pairing it with a cool vintage or locally made pitcher!
- Tared jars | Tared jars can help level-up the low waste grocery shopping experience by offering a way to get fine powders and liquids in bulk! With a tare printed directly on the jar, the grocery clerk can simply deduct the weight of the jar from the total weight at checkout. This means that your Low Waste Expert friend can enjoy olive oil, peanut butter, and items from the hot food bar with zero disposable packaging!
For Everyone Else
If you have no idea where your loved one falls on the low waste spectrum, there are still practical and low impact gifts that they can make great use of either way!
- Consumables | Gift a special version of something they already buy and use regularly. This way you can be assured that they will really love your gift, and it won't go to waste! If they are a big coffee drinker, gift a limited edition variety from a local roaster. If they are a lover of spicy foods, give that top shelf hot sauce they would never dream of splurging on themselves.
- A Good Intent gift card | Allow them to pick out their own low waste essentials, and be assured that every item they choose will be among a variety of meticulously curated sustainable and ethical goods.