Eco-Friendly Gifts to Keep Things Zero Waste This Holiday Season

These affordable environmentally-friendly gifts are perfect for the 2020 holiday season.

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Jan. 7 2021, Updated 4:01 p.m. ET

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Source: Stasher/Bite

When thinking about zero-waste gifts to give your eco-conscious friend, the first ideas that come to mind are probably things like reusable straws, Mason jars, and bamboo to-go utensils… but most zero-wasters already have those items. Womp womp. So what’s the friend of a zero-waster to do?!

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate guide to affordable environmentally-friendly gifts for the 2020 holiday season.

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Subscriptions and virtual experiences

environmentally friendly gifts
Source: Getty Images

Even though traditional experiential gifts like theatre memberships bowling dates may not work during the coronavirus pandemic, there are plenty of zero-waste experiential gifts that will still work this holiday season. 

Consider treating your pal to a virtual cooking class, a virtual wine tasting, an animal sanctuary membership, a gift card to a sustainable or vegan restaurant that delivers in their area, a subscription to an online streaming service such as Netflix, or a donation to charity.

A DIY gift

If you have some downtime (and DIY skills) this holiday season, it could be the perfect year to get crafty. A zero-waster will always appreciate a homemade gift, such as a DIY recipe in a jar, original artwork, a hand-knit scarf, home-baked goods, homemade jam, or homemade lotion.

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Go thrifting

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Whether or not you’re able to go to thrift stores during COVID-19, there are so many online thrift stores where you can find a unique secondhand outfit for your buddy. Or, browse the racks of a local shop, where you might find a nice picture frame (which you can use to frame a meaningful photo), Mason jars (which you can use to create DIY recipes in a jar), or artwork.

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Pick up a plant for your friend — as long as you know they are emotionally stable enough to handle plant care right now. We humans may just be surviving, but plants deserve to thrive, ya know? Bonus points if your local plant store can sell you a potted plant that is grown locally and can last year-round, as this is much more sustainable than flowers that are imported and wilt after just a few weeks.

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Cloth face masks

avocado kids mask
Source: Avocado Mattress

Unfortunately, face masks are going to continue being part of our outfits for a while. Luckily, we have guides up the wazoo on Green Matters to help you find the perfect sustainable cloth face mask. Check out our guides to face masks made by sustainable fashion brands, face masks made by Black-owned brands, and sustainable face masks for kids.

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Stasher bags

environmentally friendly gifts stasher
Source: Stasher/Facebook

Stasher bags are a lifesaver for any friend who is having trouble getting over their Ziploc addiction. These reusable silicone bags can be used over and over again, they’re safe to use in the microwave, dishwasher, freezer, oven, boiling water, and sous vide machine. Plus, Stasher is a certified B Corp, and they’ll take back any old Stashers (though the company promises they’ll last a lifetime) and recycle them for you.

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Ethique Concentrates

environmentally friendly gifts ethique
Source: Ethique

A great gift for a zero-waster is a zero-waste consumable item — and Ethique is revolutionizing consumables with Ethique Concentrates. Ethique is known for plastic-free “bars” (think: shampoo, lotion, deodorant, and more in the form of a bar of soap). However, the company has recently branched out into an alternative for people who don’t love working with bars: concentrated bars that simply need to be whisked into hot water, then stored in a bottle you already have. 

Ethique Concentrates are available in shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, lotion, handwash, various cleaning sprays, and dish soap.

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Zero-waste oral care

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Source: Bite

There are so many cool zero-waste oral care options out there. While a toothbrush may sound like an utterly lame gift, any zero-waster would actually be psyched to receive a fresh supply of bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tabs, and vegan compostable floss. And, like the above gift from Ethique, oral care items are consumables, with a zero-waster always appreciates receiving.

The brand Bite, which is certified cruelty-free and vegan, makes a pretty cool bamboo toothbrush with a detachable head, toothpaste “bits,” mouthwash “bits,” and compostable, refillable, plastic-free vegan floss. You can even order a set of all four oral care items to save a few dollars.

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environmentally friendly gift lastswab
Source: LastObject

Cotton swabs are one of those things that most of us think have to be disposable — including your most eco-friendly friend. Impress them by giving them a LastSwab, a reusable Q-tip alternative, packaged in a corn-based carrying case. Instead of tossing a LastSwab, users simply need to give it a quick hand wash after each use.

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Sustainable self care

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Source: Getty Images

Everyone deserves a moment of self care right now. But from disposable sheet masks to petroleum-based candles, many self care products out there involve a lot of waste. 

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If you want to gift someone a sustainable self-care experience, consider giving them things such as: an aloe plant from a local plant shop; a reusable magic silicone sheet mask; thoughtfully packaged, zero-waste, and cruelty-free aromatherapy, skincare, and bath products from Black-owned business Live By Being; a cruelty-free skincare and makeup brush gift set from ANISA Beauty; a sustainable vegan candle; eco-friendly scrunchies from Kooshoo; and sage sticks, incense, and other self-care essentials from Black-owned brand Rituals and Ceremony.

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