4 Zero-Waste and Minimalist Gift Ideas That You'll Love (Both Giving & Getting)

April 15, 2020

While moving toward a low-waste and minimalist lifestyle, I also had to re-evaluate the gifts I give to people, or things I put on my wish list. Living waste-free and minimalist can be especially difficult if there is a birthday or any other celebration coming up. I still want to gift my loved ones something nice, and of course I enjoy receiving the occasional present, too. But I don’t want to give or get something that doesn’t have a meaning, will only sit on a shelf collecting dust, serves no real purpose, or will only last for a short time. I also don’t want to give out presents that produce a ton of waste, plastic or otherwise.

Finding the perfect gift can be stressful. Now add on top a zero-waste and minimalist approach and it can seem nearly impossible. So let me offer some tips and ideas for gifts that are meaningful, yet don’t contradict your zero-waste and/or minimalist lifestyle.

Zero-Waste Gift Tips

Make it personal

Taking the time to create something personal and individual has much more meaning than going to a store and getting an item that came from an assembly line. I once got a cookbook with all my relatives and closest friends’ handwritten recipes—either their favorites or ones they knew I would love. I have a few cookbooks but this is by far the one I use most because I love each recipe and seeing all these individualized pages then reminds me of the people who wrote them. It’s such a simple and great idea! There are so many DIY gift ideas out there. Personal gifts will be cherished much more, trust me. They probably will also save you money and unnecessary waste. Get creative!

Make it less material

The best presents are often the ones that aren’t even anything material. Just spending time with someone you maybe don’t see that often and doing something fun can be enough. Cook them a nice meal or—even better—do it together. Take them hiking or spend a day being tourists in your own city. Do anything that you both enjoy. Time is the most valuable thing each of us has. If you give some of it to someone you love it’s such a precious gift. Time spent together and the experiences you made will stay with you longer than any object.


Make  it sustainable

One of my favorite gifts I have gotten was at Christmas last year. My brother’s girlfriend gave everyone in my family a personal tree. I am now the proud owner of a Calliandra tree in Kenya. Since 2010, Treedom has planted more than 1,000,000 trees in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The company offers you the possibility to plant and gift a tree to help make the world more green. All of their trees are planted and taken care of by local farmers, offering a sustainable and environmentally friendly gift idea while also supporting local communities.  You get regular updates of your personal tree with the coordinates and pictures online with all the information about your tree and it’s  characteristics listed on the board.

zero-waste gift ideas

There are many similar ideas and organizations out there. You could also become the godparent of a rescue animal or symbolically adopt an endangered animal, for example.

Make it meaningful

For the birth of my godchild, I wanted to get her something special and meaningful. With me being abroad a lot I wanted it to be something that could connect us, no matter where in the world we were. So I named a star in her honor. There are different options you can choose from, which star sign, which type of star, where it is located, what you need to see it. You get a personalized map with all the information about it. Coordinates, information on the star sign and its history, and everything you possibly would want to know about it. Then you give it a name and a personalized message and ready is a special gift that will last forever and holds so much meaning.

Zero-Waste giftZero-Waste Gift Idea

Another meaningful idea might be to donate to a certain cause. Are you or your giftee very passionate about something? Raise and donate to that cause. Not just will you be helping people, you will also not waste money on an object the person might not even want. It’s sustainable, minimalist, and waste free. What could be better?

I hope these zero-waste and minimalist gift ideas help you and inspire you to do similar presents in the future. Do you have any amazing zero-waste or minimalist gift ideas? Let me know!


Also by Rebecca: 3 Steps I Took To A Plastic-Free Lifestyle—& What I Learned In The Process

Related: 5 Budget And Eco-Friendly Gifts For Vegans

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Rebecca Willems
A self-described queer vegan feminist, Rebecca is also trying to live a more zero-waste and minimalist life. During her undergraduate and graduate studies she put a lot of focus on sustainability, LGBTQ+ rights and gender issues across the globe. Having lived on 5 continents in many different cultures and being an avid traveler, she loves to learn about new cultures, learn languages, and try all the amazing vegan food across the world.


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