20+ zero waste gifts for your next party

Zero waste gifts: because no matter how hard you may push to say “no gifts” or “experiences over things”, gifts still come your way. I’m sure we can all think of those lovely people in our lives who feel like not giving physical gifts is the ultimate offense.

Keep pushing for those experience gifts, but sometimes it’s just not happening.

For those of you dealing with folks who love giving stuff, I present to you some zero waste gifts. These are also potential gifts for minimalists who would enjoy a functional, low waste gift.

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Zero waste gifts: small gifts

  • Cloth napkins. There’s little better than cloth napkins for a functional, beautiful, easily-personalized hostess gift. I personally would love this set of animal-themed cloth napkins.
  • A bento bag. I adore my bento bags and have switched over to using them almost exclusively over traditional totes. You can buy a linen bento bag, go for a slightly cheaper cotton bento bag, or even make your own like I do!
  • House plants. What kitchen isn’t improved by a hardy little house plant? Share one you’ve grown or support a local nursery by picking one up on the way to the party!
  • A bulk food array. What’s better than a bunch of gourmet snack options tailored to the recipient? Package them up in second-hand Le Parfait jars for a fancy look and endless reuse!

Zero waste gifts: on-the-go

Don’t know what a zero waste kit is? Want to know what’s in mine? Check out my zero waste kit here.

  • A cool reusable travel mug. Something small and on-the-go is a great gift if you don’t yet have one. I highly recommend either the Stojo (collapsible silicone – lifesaver!) or the glass KeepCup.
  • Cloth napkins. Endlessly customizeable and useful in many different ways, vintage napkins are easy to find in thrift stores or you can even make your own napkins! Etsy also has plenty of gorgeous cloth napkins in all sorts of patterns.
  • Bamboo cutlery. Again, one of those products that is totally ToGo Ware bamboo cutlery set – unnecessary but so useful when received as a gift. As someone who walks or bikes daily, this is so helpful to toss into whatever bag I have. Mine is the .
  • A stainless steel tiffin. I love mine – I lugged around glass for ages and am so happy to have made the switch. I got mine second-hand from this stainless steel tiffin eBay search for under $20!
  • A reusable wax wrap. Kick plastic wrap to the curb and have an on-the-go plate or container at all times. They’re available for purchase through many sellers on Etsy or you can even make your own beeswax or vegan wrap in just a few minutes!

Zero waste gifts: in the kitchen

You don’t need stuff to start reducing your kitchen waste – try some simple zero waste kitchen swaps!

  • Stasher bags. I resisted these silicone bags for so long since they’re fairly pricey, but I now have and love a set of Stasher bags. You can microwave, boil, freeze, and store with these ziploc alternatives!
  • Le Parfait jars. The creme-de-la-creme of glass jars, I have a small collection of these flip top jars I absolutely adore. You can find some reasonably priced ones in thrift stores occasionally, otherwise there’s a thriving second-hand market of Le Parfait jars on eBay.
  • A food processor. Food processors are amazing at creating the sauces, soups, and other blends that would otherwise be found in packaging. Mine is a lifesaver! The perk of this is that nice food processors tend to be expensive – so encourage your gift-giver to source one on the Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, or even through the returns of Amazon Warehouse.
  • Block soap. Both beautiful and very long-lasting, ask for a Savon de Marseille or Aleppo soap block. Just be certain to get one without palm oil! (Bonus points if a bamboo scrubber for dishes is included!)

The big list of zero waste gift ideas - Polly Barks

Zero waste gifts: In the bathroom

Get started today – make zero waste changes in your bathroom!

  • DIY pampering products. I wrote a whole post on DIY consumable gift ideas – creating a unique lotion, bath soak, or perfume is a relatively low-waste, low-cost way to give a gift.
  • Unpackaged soaps. There are so many places to get beautiful, hand-crafted soaps, no matter where you live. Perfect for daily use or saving for special guests!
  • Linen towels. I made my mom get these linen towels for my birthday and they are awesome! They’re much bigger than standard towels and, despite being super thin, are absorbent and warm even in Indiana winters!
  • Bamboo toothbrushes and tooth powder. Who would have thought – pre-zero waste – that you one day might be excited to receive a toothbrush as a gift?! I use The Green Root toothbrushes and a DIY tooth powder recipe from Going Zero Waste. A perfect gift pair!
  • Reusable cotton rounds. Perfect for removing makeup or smearing on lotion. You can DIY them easily or purchase a pack of reusable cotton rounds from Etsy sellers.

Zero waste gifts: In your closet

It can be really hard to buy clothing for other people, but a careful suggestion can get you a staple piece you otherwise wouldn’t invest in. 

  • Everlane. For everything. While I do think Everlane is really over-hyped, I also love every piece of clothing I’ve bought. I’ve had a cashmere sweater for over four years and t-shirts for four or five that still function wonderfully.
  • FLAX linen. For comfy clothes, vintage FLAX linen dresses can’t be beat. It’s a little hippy-dippy (think good vibes messages on the label and comfortable drapes), but I absolutely adore the three pieces I have in my closet.
  • Boody. If you need a gift for the sporty person in your life, Boody offers a range of sustainably-made bamboo workout and athletic wear.