Tips for a zero waste Christmas & gifts ideas to make a difference

Zero Waste Christmas

Zero waste is everywhere, which is a good thing of course. And as Christmas is yet approaching again, there are already plenty of guides recommending how to have a zero waste Christmas and give presents that have less impact on the planet.

Last year’s post on sustainable gift ideas is of course, still valid and so is the previous year’s post on memories, not objects – but I thought this year I would add some more ideas that have actually less ‘substance’, so to speak – and leave a lighter trail in our world. Does it make any sense? I hope it does

Christmas spirit

I am not going to list ideas on how to package presents and decorate your home with a smaller carbon footprint, there are plenty of valid guides out there including a really cool list from Pebble Magazine.

I have been looking at Pinterest for ideas too, creating a helpful board for those looking for inspiration and have purchased some eco / sustainable gift wrapping materials from Eco-Craft, so hopefully this year my presents will look slightly more elegant than last year’s badly wrapped attempts.

So finally, below some more ideas for presents that might be a small step towards a more sustainable approach in life.

Let me know if you have more !

Gifts

Fully compostable coffee capsules

Last year I put a re-usable steel coffee capsule in my list. I do not have one, but gave one to my parents and according to them it’s actually quite tricky to use and the coffee doesn’t come out that well.

So this year, in searching for a truly eco way of using my Nespresso machine, I have been researching fully compostable, eco friendly packaged coffee and found some that actually are.

Terrone compostable coffee capsules

I have ordered the following and can’t wait to try them:

Tickets / memberships

This is a no brainer, but it really depends on the person you’re buying for. For example, this would not do for my husband as he’s not keen on cinema and theatre. A membership to a museum then might work in his case.

Good thing also is that most museums and cinemas / art centres are non profit so not only you’re getting a gift sorted, you’re also doing good!

Some ideas for London:

  • BFI Membership: great to book tickets for the London Film Festival ahead of general booking)
  • Tate Gallery: gives access to the members’ room (at the Modern branch) with breathtaking views over London
  • South Bank Centre: events all year round for all tastes including kids

Books

Yes books are made of paper, but if you give a book that can actually stay for life, then it’s a great present. I am not talking about the read fast-forget faster Grisham style paper pack; I am talking about something memorable that will really be a good fit for each individual.

So I will refrain from recommending anything specifically; rather, I will mention what I am reading at the moment in case anyone thinks the book would work for them too (unlikely unless they are scuba divers!)

Kubaryana's Nembrotha

The World Beneath by dr Richard Smith. This is a wonderful present for anyone with an interest in oceanography and reef life as well as macro photography. It’s written with technical terms but in lay language so very accessible. I am addicted to Pigmy sea horses now!

Home made foodie gifts

This goes of course for anything home made you could then wrap in eco friendly packaging and give as present. Soap, roasted nuts, cookies, kimchi… so many options!

Snack bars
Alegria homemade healthy snack bars

For example granola is – in my view – a wonderful option because you can pick and mix how you make it, adding loads of personal twists such as spices, nuts, dry fruit and so forth. Store it in a lovely (upcycled?) large glass jar and it will make an appearance for sure!

Beeswax wraps

I was given some of these for my birthday by my eco-conscious manager and I have been using them loads. So much better than cling film or foil!

It should also be pretty easy to make at home with a small number of tools and ingredients such as beeswax but I have yet to try.

There are many options out there, including this which is the one I use.

Dinner vouchers

Maybe this is more for the foodies type, then again, everyone has to eat, right? So a lot of restaurants would do ‘gift vouchers’ and there is plenty of choice around for sure.

Some of my favourites to ‘give’ would be:

Toilet paper

No, seriously. Something every one uses so why not buy some cool, nicely branded but also do-good option?

Who gives a crap? is a sustainably produced and packaged toilet paper. They make all their products with environmentally friendly materials, and donate 50% of profits to help build toilets for those in need.

To date they’ve donated over $2.5m Aussie dollars to charity and saved a heck of a lot of trees, water and energy.

I am really happy with their rolls, they come beautifully packaged too! You can buy with £5 off via this link.

Second hand / charity shop finds

There are a couple of friends who are constantly posting on socials their finds from charity shops: vintage toys in one case, great clothes in another.

Vintage toy
My friend Marc’s recent find from a charity shop

I am quite jealous because I no longer have a charity shop I could donate and buy from, but – as long as you are comfortable with who you are giving too – why not consider buying from a second hand store?

Much less impact, no energy wasted – and likely a very unique piece!

Buy a charity gift

You can buy an endangered species or working animals adoption pack to support a charity’s work (such as orangutans sharks mantas puppy dogs )

You can also consider something towards humans: this year I purchased items from Choose Love. From £5 onwards, an item you pick will go to refugees around the world to help with their pligh.

In conclusion

It is not easy, I am aware – to strike a balance between wanting to ‘give’ the unnecessary and wanting to be planet friendly; wrap lovely looking gifts and trying to use recyclable paper; avoid using paper greeting cards and feeling conscious when most of your friends have sent you cards and you’ve emailed them a photoshopped version.

You do what you can! Small steps by tons of people can help. Merry Christmas!

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