This holiday season I decided to challenge myself to give gifts that create little or no waste. I wanted to be able to give gifts that were affordable, and environmentally sustainable. When it comes to zero waste gifts, its not only creating and wrapping the gift that needs to be considered. It is also so important to think about what might happen to the gift afterward. Once it has passed the 6 month window in which purchases typically stop being useful - where will it be?
To start I reflected on the people to whom I would be giving - what they needed, what they liked, and how my gift would bring happiness, and usefulness to their lives. Thinking about where this gift would end up after being used was also something I reflected on. I could have purchased a ton of reusable xyz items for everyone, but the back of a cupboard or bottom of a drawer is eventually a landfill. Not only did I want my gifts to be environmentally sustainable, I wanted for them to be useful, and to bring happiness to my friends and family.
This meant starting my planning a little earlier than I would typically, involved a larger dose of creativity, and in the end, drew me toward two kinds of gifts. First, those that bring joy from their consumption and second, those that would help those I love, show themselves some love. With that in mind, I purchased a few reusable containers, started collecting natural elements for wrapping and got gifting!
For the gifts that bring joy from their consumption I turned to edible gifts - ranging from mixed nuts, to spice mixes, to simple syrups and kimchi. I made gifts that could be consumed, and that made sense for the person. Some gifts don't have a name on them yet, because they're for those last-minute moments or visits that come up unexpectedly.
When it comes to edible gifting, it doesn't have to be homemade to be sustainable! For those that might be pressed for time, edible gifts can easily be purchased in stores (obviously). Opting for edible gifts that are in glass containers, without plastic wrapping or seals, makes it easy to reuse or recycle afterward. Even better is buying locally sourced and produced edible items - meaning that the gift will have travelled less to get under the tree.
My second idea related to self-care items. Those are easy to buy locally and handmade, especially at craft-shows or Christmas markets. I wanted to challenge myself, and opted to do-it-myself, while keeping it simple and affordable.
I turned to a personal favourite and staple, a coffee ground and coconut oil scrub, but stepped it up by making lip balms and rubs with beeswax, essential oils and a few other ingredients that I had on-hand. These are self-care items that are easy to make, affordable, and especially useful during the cold winter months.
For other ideas on zero-waste Christmas gift ideas and recommendations on how to navigate the holidays, check out a few of these blogs from which I drew inspiration this year:
Zero-waste Nerd for 101 Zero-waste Gift Ideas
Zero-waste Home A Zero-waste Christmas or Almost
Going Zero Waste A Zero-waste Christmas Challenge
Stay tuned for a post on consciously navigating the holiday season with ourselves, and our health at the top of mind, in collaboration with Anna, from the dailyinsanity blog.