Why I’m Encouraging My Family to Throw a Zero Waste Gift Exchange Party This Year
Are you dreading yet another family gift exchange party during which you swap “White Elephant,” “Bad Santa,” “Yankee Swap,” or “Dirty Santa” gifts? If so, you’re not alone. These often seem like a waste of time and money. For one, they can be just plain awkward. Aunt Susie’s idea of a “hilarious” Christmas gift might make everyone else cringe. Don’t get me wrong; these games can be downright unforgettable with the right combination of people. And you can even leave with some pretty good loot, if you’re lucky! But why not try something a little more thoughtful this year?
I’m talking about zero waste, ethical, minimalist, and eco-friendly gift parties. It doesn’t matter whether you’re pagan, secular, religious, or fall anywhere in between those categories. I think you probably believe the same thing about the meaning of Christmas: It’s a meaningful time of year. And that’s why throwing a zero waste gift exchange party is so fitting! Zero waste gifts are also great for any gift-giving occasions, and they’re an integral part of a zero waste lifestyle.
Zero Waste Family Gift Exchange Ideas: Overview
- 7 Easy & Affordable Zero Waste Gifts
- How to Plan a Zero Waste Family Gift Exchange Party
- Roundup: The Internet’s Best Zero Waste Blogs to Inspire & Encourage
7 Easy and Affordable Zero Waste Gifts
Unique & Practical Family Gift Exchange Ideas
The world of zero waste gifts is deep and wide! There are endless DIY options, but you can buy numerous gifts with the simple click of a button to save on time and support small businesses. For example, you can make your own zero waste gift baskets, create or buy a “zero waste kit,” or use smaller items as zero waste stocking stuffers.
But before jumping into our list of zero waste gifts, let’s define a “zero waste gift.”
A Zero Waste Gift is any type of eco-friendly gift that reduces waste. It could be something that can’t possibly wind up in a landfill, such as an experiential gift or an online e-course. It could also be something reusable, like homemade Beeswax Wraps (which take the place of plastic food wrap) or a food product that comes in biodegradable packaging. The goal is to buy or make environmentally-friendly gifts that encourage less waste. The party itself should also emphasize reusable supplies and low waste.
1. Zero Waste Floss
This is great as a stocking stuffer or as part of a zero waste gift basket. I recommend Dental Lace, a company that sells eco-friendly floss in reusable containers. They even have vegan zero waste floss options.
According to the creators, for each person who flosses in the U.S., the dental floss containers alone would fill up a landfill with the depth of six football stadiums! Their solution was to design biodegradable floss with reusable glass containers.
I definitely recommend checking out their website because it is quite inspiring!
2. Mu Mu Muesli & Mu Mu Magic
These vegan breakfast foods are fabulous for vegan food gift baskets! Both the Mu Mu Muesli cereal and the Mu Mu Magic healthy pancakes mix are crafted from ethically sourced ingredients. They’re environmentally friendly for a few reasons.
- First, they’re both made in a facility that uses solar power for clean energy.
- They also each come in biodegradable, tin-tie bags with corn-based plastic liners that you can dispose of in your compost bin.
- Furthermore, bulk quantities are available to reduce your carbon footprint in terms of shipping!
3. Zero Waste Household Cleaners
Did you know that exposure to most household cleaners is quite harmful to your health? You can read more about the dangers of household cleaners, and also find easy homemade household cleaner recipes in Is Cleaning Your House as Bad as Smoking a Pack a Day? The Truth May Surprise You!
I suggest using glass containers that you already own, if possible. Have fun with it!
4. Zero Waste Grocery Bags
One of my favorite online stores is Arbor Army. I like it because the organization plants at least one new tree for every purchase, so it’s actively fighting deforestation. There are also lots of cruelty-free and vegan gift options. And in terms of zero waste bags, the selection is delightful! My favorite is the bag that says “Eat the Pastriarchy.” In fact, this particular selection is hilarious for White Elephant family gift exchange ideas.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can sew your own bag… But luckily, there are plenty of plenty of already-made bags on the market. For example, Amazon alone sells:
5. Experience Gifts
Now these are the ultimate 100% zero waste gifts! In other words, there’s no way they can end up in a landfill. They’re often more meaningful, as well. If it’s for a specific person, then you can buy concert tickets or buy them an online e-course tailored to their specific tastes. (For example, Udemy sells e-courses on just about anything!)
If you need family gift exchange ideas, try to use a broader experience gift. This could be something like a movie theater gift card.
6. Zero Waste Cat Litter
Okay, so this may seem a big “out there,” but it’s a great gift for cat lovers. Especially cat lovers who care about the environment! Consider the amount of cat litter it takes to maintain a clean litter box on a daily basis. Gifting eco-friendly kitty litter or making homemade cat litter is a huge (and practical) way to reduce waste.
7. Zero Waste Kitchen Supplies
It’s easy to produce a lot of waste in the kitchen. But paper towels, mop pads, and dinner napkins all end up in the landfill. Why not use their reusable counterparts?
Here are some great zero waste kitchen gift ideas:
Want to get a little more creative? Check out these Zero Waste Kitchen Gift Basket ideas!
How to Plan a Zero Waste Party
It’s easy to overlook all the waste that a family gathering can produce. And it can be time-consuming to plan a perfectly zero-waste party. So why not aim to do the best you can, and pick just a few of the strategies below?
5 Tips for Throwing a Zero Waste Party
1. Be prepared for leftovers. Before the party, fill up on left overs and clear out space in your fridge and freezer. You can also avoid using disposable food containers by:
- Reminding guests to bring empty food containers with them, so they can bring home leftovers sans plastic wrap and throw-away containers.
- Stocking up on eco-friendly food storage, such as reusable beeswax wraps and other reusable food storage items.
2. Instead of paper invites, invite your guests electronically. Simply text or email your invitations instead of using paper invites. This is also a good way to cut down on costs. (And digital invitations are much harder to misplace!)
3. Keep recycling and garbage cans as low-waste as possible. One way to do this is to use compostable bin liners.
4. Be mindful of wrapping paper waste. There are a few different ways to keep Mother Earth in mind when it comes to wrapping paper.
- One method is to use old newspapers as wrapping paper. My dad used the Sunday comics when I was a kid, and I viewed it as a novelty!
- If you really value traditional wrapping paper, then I will again recommend Arbor Army! Browse the colorful wrapping paper selection, and know that each purchase is helping in the fight against deforestation.
- Another idea is to sew reusable gift bags. My mom has been using simple bags for years now, and the clean-up is a easy as can be. Simply fold them up, and tuck away for the next party.
5. Buy food in bulk. Instead of buying pre-packaged family meals, buy food in bulk and store in glass containers. Check out Mu Mu’s vegan & vegetarian recipe board for meal prep inspiration!
Zero Waste Blogs to Inspire & Encourage
If you haven’t heard of the zero waste gift movement, you likely will in the near future. More and more people are requesting zero waste gifts and planning holidays with sustainability in mind.
Furthermore, being a vegan isn’t just for hippies anymore. As a growing number of health-conscious individuals learn the benefits of a plant based diet, the more vegans and vegetarians there are. Learn more about these changing trends in gift-giving and celebrations in the list below!
9 Zero Waste Blogs + Pinterest Boards for Your Holiday Shopping Inspiration
- Sustainable Jungle’s “How the Zero Waste Movement is Changing the Market Via Innovation and Inspiration”
- Mu Mu’s Collection of 329+ Articles About Ethical Shopping Brands + Stores
- Refinery29’s “Marie Kondo Came for Your Stuff, Bea Johnson is Coming for Your Garbage“
- Mu Mu’s “DIY Vegan Gift Baskets: Your Holiday Inspiration“
- Almost Zero Waste’s “16 Surprising Benefits Of Going Zero Waste“
- Onya’s “33 Easy and Affordable Zero Waste Party Tips“
- Plaine Products‘ “Gift Ideas for Family and Friends New to Zero Waste“
- Greenmatters’ “10 Experiential Holiday Gift Ideas to Keep Things Zero Waste“
- The Tree Kisser’s “Eco Friendly Gifts (That Are Also Vegan!)“
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