Create Memories Not Waste

Create memories, not waste

The holidays are a time of giving, so naturally deciding what to get others, and what you want in return, can be a challenge. Add on top of that, the consideration that many gifts will end up taking up space and adding to the “clutter-problem”. One-quarter of Americans admit to having this problem which results in a lot of added stress. In fact, according to psychologists, clutter can actually leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed, which is not that surprising considering that the average American home now contains 300,000 items.

This year, instead of buying some pretty/shiny/clever gift that will just sit on a shelf collecting dust, consider gifts that create more meaningful relationships with the people that you love. Spending time together and supporting your loved ones’ goals strengthens relationships in ways that a material gift cannot compete with. Below are a few zero-waste gift ideas that can help minimize waste while making your holiday meaningful, memorable, and clutter free.


4 Zero Waste and Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas to Make the Holidays More Meaningful:

1. Make a donation to a charity on behalf of someone. Consider charities that are especially important to both the recipient and you. 

2. Give the gift of time. This could be anything from a whale watching trip, to a meal at their favorite restaurant, to a ‘coupon’ for your time to help them with a specific task. Gifts that offer a chance to spend time together in a memorable way strengthen relationships.  

These types of gifts work for kids too. Consider outings centered around their interests that give them one-on-one time and create memories that can last a lifetime. Another option for older children could be free babysitting coupons, which will provide an opportunity for parents to spend individual time with one child at time.

3. Give gifts that support the recipient's lifestyle goals. These types of gifts not only produce zero-waste, but help facilitate positive lifestyle changes. For example: 

  • For the person who wants to cook more at home: potted herbs or a cooking class.
  • For someone looking to reduce their plastic use: mason jar accessories or reusable microfiber "paper" towels.
  • For someone trying to improve their fitness: a short-term membership to a yoga, Pilates, cross fit, or boxing club.

4. For children, give responsibly sourced gifts that inspire creativity and imaginative-play.  For young children especially, it can be difficult to give gifts that are not tangible items. Thankfully, most retailers sell environmentally friendly gifts. Try conducting a simple internet search for a list of the best eco-friendly and green toys.

The average American household’s waste increases by 25% during the holidays. Holiday décor, wrapping, food, and the things that this year’s gifts replaced, all contribute to the spike in waste. 

Responsible gift giving, can help prevent our trash cans from being filled with things purchased with the best intentions.

Other ways to cut waste this holiday season include sending e-cards and using reusable gift boxes and bags, or alternative wrappings like newspaper, or fabric.

In addition, don’t forget to donate your older items that still have life left in them. Thrift stores are often in need of toys, clothes, electronics and housewares. So, while you’re finding space for the new things you received, set up a box to collect your donations.

Below are a few additional gift ideas as well as some helpful links to help you reduce waste this holiday season:

Gifts of Time:

  • Gift an experience: an excursion to a zoo, sporting event, theater, theme park, movie, restaurant, or outdoor experience.
  • A coupon for the recipient to join you in an activity they’ve expressed interest in: a painting or pottery class, learn to scuba dive, hula, garden, compost, or preserve foods, the possibilities are endless.
  • A gift that saves the recipient time: housecleaning, landscaping, hired labor, helping organize, cleanup, and rearrange areas around the home.
  • For those who love being active: a trip to the rock-climbing wall, trampoline gym, sports or game park, batting cage, bowling alley, or skating rink.
  • Plan a treasure hunt the whole family can participate in: a traditional game, one that teaches family or community history, or even a geocaching experience. 
  • Make DIY gifts together as a family, then gift them to others, creating memories and saving money.
  • Year long experiences: memberships to the zoo, aquarium, nature center, local museums, theme parks, season passes to theater, opera or orchestra. These gifts are bigger ticket items, but they continue far beyond the holiday season.

Zero-Waste Gifts:

  • Reusable items to replace single or limited use items: reusable bottles/mugs, reusable shopping and produce bags, mason jars and accessories, reusable snack pouches/containers, reusable straws, reusable waxed paper wrap (great for cheese), wool dryer balls, and reusable to-go cutlery packs.
  • Live plants: houseplants, indoor or outdoor herb gardens, succulent gardens, seeds for a spring garden, or gardening kit.
  • Food: find locally made or homemade items to add uniqueness to the gift.
  • Eco-friendly cleaners and personal hygiene products for people who want to reduce their toxics exposure.