Zero Waste Holiday Gift Ideas 2021

Are you looking for low waste gift ideas?

We have compiled a list of zero or low waste products to help make your holiday shopping a little easier.

  1. Recycled Wool Blankets

If you are able to find one locally and save on shipping, then go the extra mile and buy from a local artisan. Recycled wool blankets are a great thing to have in your car in case of breakdown because they are warm, soft, and are one of the few materials that will warm you even if they get wet. They are also a great fireside item, because sparks won’t melt a hole in them, unlike their fleece brethren. Wool blankets are also cozy and a beautiful item to keep on hand in the living room for guests leisure time.

Wool is excellent for the environment because it lasts a long time and when it loses fibers, they are naturally broken down into the environment. Man made fibers are a major source of water pollution because they break down into microplastics. If you are living off grid or want to do your part for the environment (live in awareness of your ecosystem), wool is a great choice. In the case of recycled wool, older or worn out wool blankets and garments are cleaned and made into beautiful “new” products to extend their life. Wool can easily be in use for decades so even a recycled wool item will in all likelihood last a very long time.

If you are looking to order online, try Etsy shops such as this affordable option: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1005146394/recycled-wool-tartan-check-blankets?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=recycled+wool+blankets&ref=sr_gallery-1-1

  1. Used Musical Instruments

Do you have an aspiring musician on your list? Wooden instruments such as violins and guitars can last hundreds of years if kept properly. Brass instruments can also last well over 100 years with proper care.

Music is therapy and a musical instrument can provide opportunities for entertainment and community togetherness without electricity or other inputs (besides occasional string changes and adjustments).

A used musical instrument is a great choice for a low environmental impact gift that can be enjoyed for years to come, and passed along if the recipient chooses to later.

You can often find used instruments at thrift stores, pawn shops, on Craigslist, or other local marketplaces. Local music teachers and music shops often have second hand or refurbished instruments for sale as well, and can assist you if the one you bought needs adjustments or string changes before being the perfect gift.

  1. Wooden Toys and Games

Children may get a ton of plastic toys that they enjoy, but these are normally not long lasting because they break. The plastic sticks around in waterways or landfills breaking down into ever tinier particles but not really disappearing for a very long time. In order to circumvent this problem, wooden toys and games are *still* an option. 

From the quintessential toy trains, to games of croquinal, or even tennis rackets, hockey sticks, and other sporting items, wooden items if taken care of properly can lasts decades or even centuries. If they do break they can be repurposed or at worst burned, without lingering for a long time polluting the environment. This is another electricity and input free option, making it even more environmentally responsible (no batteries!). 

Local craft fairs and antique stores are great places to find these items. For an example of cute toddler toys on Etsy visit here: 

https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1081071792/2-wooden-toys-cars-animals-and-vintage?plkey=439430e0d4561f3d48ca8507ddb96d4ae1748c9f%3A1081071792&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=wooden+toys&ref=sc_gallery-1-1&pro=1

  1. Beeswax Candles

We all know bees are necessary for local food production, and that they have been struggling lately. So why not give a beautiful gift and support a local beekeeper at the same time?

Beeswax has an aromatic smell and soothing warm colour, making it a perfect gift for the person who seems to have it all. You can also buy salves, lip balms, fabric wraps for foods, and other beeswax products if you wish to include more variety.

Honey also makes a great gift, as a healthy sweetener that you are usually able to find in glass jars as well. The candles, though, are probably the quintessential beeswax item. If you can’t find them locally there are beautiful online options such as the ones found here: https://beeswaxworks.ca/collections

P.S. If you live on the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island, or Lower Mainland you can donate your used candle ends for us to use at any Kindred Recycling locations!

  1. OneLight Firestarters

Of course we are on the list! Our firestarters are made from reclaimed lumber from construction sites, recycled candles, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, and the only new part is the wick!

They burn clean and make use of items that otherwise would be thrown in the landfill. Waste diversion is a great way to reduce environmental impact.

In addition to being 99% recycled, they are also a great gift for campers, hikers, and adventurists on your list as well as those with wood stoves in their home or cabin.

It saves time and energy preparing paper and kindling and makes it possible to light full sized pieces of firewood right away by using a single Onelight.

A great item to have around on Christmas morning!

You can also give our Holiday Box, found here: https://onelight.ca/product/holiday-gift-box/

  1. Jam, Pickles, Sauces and other Local Preserves

Homemade jams and jellies, either prepared by yourself or someone at a local market, are a great zero waste gift. They are delicious and well received, come in enjoyable varieties, and the glass jars can be reused indefinitely. You can usually find local vinegars, salad dressings, and other special foods that someone may not think to buy for themselves, but will certainly appreciate at local markets. 

You can make your own spice mix to give as a gift if your recipient particularly enjoys a dish you have made for them before.

If you have a larger budget, consider a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from a local farmer to be delivered to your loved one each week/month for the growing season, providing them with healthy delicious foods while supporting local food production.

These gifts also have the advantage of being useful, beneficial to health, and they get used up, meaning they won’t take up space indefinitely.

My favourite gift spice mix is “Za’atar Thyme Herb Mix” from 10 000 Villages, but there are plenty to choose from. It comes in soft plastic I will admit, but in enough quantity to last a year or more, so I’ll keep it on the list.

https://www.villagesbrandon.ca/zaatar-thyme-herb-mix.html

  1. Plants + Gardening Supplies
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It may seem like spring will never come this time of year but rest assured, spring is around the corner, and when that time comes plenty of gardening supplies will come in handy. If your recipient grows veggies why not give them some seeds? Or perhaps some quality garden tools? Natural fertilizers can be a great choice as well, since they make a big difference for plant health and can bring joy to someone gardening successfully. 

For someone who lives in an apartment or doesn’t like gardening, a low maintenance house plant such as a money plant can make a great gift as well. If you plan in advance you may even be able to reproduce some of your own plants as gifts, which is thoughtful and the most eco friendly of all. 

  1. Loose Leaf Tea

A simple yet enjoyable gift is loose leaf tea, which you can often find in bulk at natural food stores and place in a reusable container of your choice (just let the cashier measure it before filling). There are plenty to choose from, and you can even buy a mug from a local potter or art gallery shop to compliment it. 

If you grow herbs or know someone who does, making herbal tea blends of your own can make a special gift as well.

  1. Soap

Handmade bars of soap usually come without any packaging, and come in a wide variety of amazing scents. You can get shampoo and conditioner bars, classic hand soap, and all kinds of specialty varieties. 

Handmade soaps are gentle on the skin and it is enjoyable to select the ones you think your loved one will enjoy most. These make an excellent stocking stuffer or gift for a coworker as well, because they are something that will please anyone. You can find them in gift shops, local grocery stores, health food stores, and online such as here: 

  1. Experiences

If you can do without the physical gift under the tree, a great zero- waste gift idea is to cover the costs of experiences for others, such as: paying for a massage treatment or spa visit, a class or workshop, the camping fees for a summer getaway or day pass at the ski hill. Think about the kinds of things your loved one enjoys or if there is anything they have been wanting to try. This can inspire an excellent gift that they will enjoy and appreciate without any packaging waste. A membership at a local studio, tickets to a comedy event, or another activity they will enjoy could make the perfect gift.

We hope you have gained some inspiration from this list! Happy Holidays, and best wishes for your gift shopping and giving this season.

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