The holiday season is the most wonderful (albeit wasteful) time of the year. How do you affordably give someone feelings of holiday joy without giving them trashy disposable products?

1. Experience and DIY Gifts

Experience gifts sound expensive: many people associate it with scuba diving, vacations, and concert tickets, but they can really be simple. Instead of buying a physical gift, see if someone you love would enjoy a dinner out, a movie, or give gift cards for companies like GoldStar, where you can contribute to the price of any concert or play of their choice. If you’re friends with a new parent, maybe offer to babysit for free so they can have a night off. Experiences and time with those you love are much more fulfilling than any amount of stuff. DIY gifts are also fantastic- don’t think of it as arts and crafts, you can even make a batch of cookies or brownies.

2. Bulk Goodies

Bulk soaps, bath bombs, chocolates and candy in a mason jar, are wonderful gifts and you can get them totally package free! Soaps you can get in bulk from some health food grocery stores (I like Fresh Thyme), and Lush. I fill up a thrifted mason jar with candy and wrap some recycled ribbon around it: it’s an awesome gift because they can keep the jar after and fill it up again!

3. Keychain Reusable Bags

There are tons of different brands that make reusable bags that fold down into a keychain size, making it easy to clip onto your keychain and bring with you to the store. They even have some that look like little fruits making them fun and cute to use!

4. Reusable Produce Bags

Reusable bags don’t have to stop at grocery bags! This was actually the first zero waste swap I actually bought. I split the pack with my mother and she loves them too.

5. Microwave cover

This is a more advanced zero waste swap. When my family stopped using paper towels, we bought this microwave cover to prevent splatters.

6. Reusable Makeup Remover Pads

These are one of my most favorite things I have changed. Even if I was still living as wasteful as before, I would definitely keep this swap. One of my non-environmentally conscious friends tried one of these pads when she left her makeup wipes at home, and absolutely loved it: I got them for her for her birthday and she still uses them. You only need to wet them, and these reusable bamboo makeup wipes take off my full face of makeup without leaving any weird or greasy residue or irritating scent. I don’t use waterproof mascara but to remove more stubborn makeup you can use olive oil or coconut oil.

7. House of Marley Headphones

House of Marley is a sustainable electronics company that designs equipment for those who want to tread lightly with their carbon (and tech waste) footprint. They plant a tree for every order, and their products are harvested from sustainable materials and recycled post-consumer content. They partner with One Tree Planted to combat deforestation, and ship with recyclable materials. And, the products are absolutely gorgeous. Of course when it comes to tech gear the most sustainable option is one that you purchase used, although sometimes a new treat is something everyone can enjoy. They sell computer mice, wireless chargers, earbuds, and more.

8. Lip Balm

Lip balm makes an awesome stocking stuffer or addition to a smaller gift, especially in cold weather. I love my Burt’s Bee’s beeswax lip balm. It comes in a small recyclable steel container. I saw a bunch at a Bed Bath and Beyond a few months ago without any plastic casing for half off, and I bought five of them to buy in bulk. I have also heard good things about Meow Meow Tweet’s lip balm, which is great if you’re looking for a vegan option. They also make some handmade versions on Etsy.

9. Pet Toys

Furry friends deserve love too! Earthhero and Package Free Shop have some cool gift ideas for your BFF, like compostable hemp or coconut fiber tug toys, recycled plush toys, and compostable rubber balls and bones. I don’t have a cat but there are cat toys as well.

10. Candles

Candles always come in glass, last a long time, and smell amazing. Check out Etsy for handmade products to support support small businesses. Etsy also offsets its carbon emissions! My dad’s receptionist has an Etsy shop and I seriously love her Banana Nut Bread candles. They even make personalized candles that you can find for any niche: They have such unique products and you’re sure to find anything for anyone. I especially love the Office themed candles: Am I a hero for these suggestions? I really can’t say but yes.

I have a post about sustainable gift wrap coming soon: stay tuned!

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