9 Zero-Waste Ways To Celebrate Father's Day

June 18, 2021

Father’s Day is a big deal in the United States, and it can be celebrated in both a fun and ethical way. If you’re needing ideas for how to go about that, here are just a few!

Have a zero-waste vegan BBQ.

BBQ’s are pretty standard happenings on Father’s Day, and they can be wasteful as well as supportive of cruelty towards animals. It doesn’t have to be that way though. If you love BBQ’s but want to have a more ethical one, use real silverware and plates and cups (ask guests to bring their own, potluck style). Have plenty of cloth napkins (or Unpaper Towels) ready for the messy food, and make sure to have Tupperware or repurposed food containers available for leftovers! Have it outside, and bring blankets for people to sit on. For the food, try out this summer-inspired menu:

  • Beyond Meat sausages (Field Roast also has incredible Apple Sage Sausages, but they are less true to the animal meat texture so just be aware of that)
  • Beyond Meat burger patties– season them with your favorite burger seasonings, or do soy sauce, agave, garlic, minced onions, smoked paprika, and minced spicy peppers
  • large grilled portobello mushroom caps, seasoned the same way as the burger patties
  • two kinds of oven sweet potato fries (sweet and savory)- for the savory, roast them with coconut oil, salt, lemon, garlic, smoked paprika, and dill…for the sweet, roast them in coconut oil, cinnamon, sugar, and a little vegan butter
  • watermelon (or local fruit that’s in season)
  • grilled pineapple, charred with cayenne, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, and lime
  • lemonade with fresh mint and frozen mango used instead of ice to keep it chilled
  • vegan Hawaiian rolls (or whatever vegan rolls you have access to)
  • coconut chips
  • pineapple pico de gallo (serve with blue corn chips)
  • burger/sausage toppings: sliced avocados, teriyaki sauce, minced pineapple and jalapeños, pickled red onions, crispy onions, vegan fry sauce (creamy ketchup), sliced heirloom tomatoes, sautéed onions, salty fried potato medallions, lettuce, cucumbers marinated in rice vinegar, and green onions
  • chili dusted mango spears
  • root vegetable chips
  • vegan crab salad (can be made with hearts of palm or vegan seafood products)
  • grilled veggie kabobs (bell peppers, vegan chicken, and onions are a favorite), seasoned with cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper
  • coconut desserts (cake, macarons, cookies, etc.)
  • margaritas


Make low-waste camping kits for an outdoorsy father figure in your life.

The outdoors are good for everyone, and with summer being here, it’s a great time to gift people with ways to enjoy nature more ethically. For each kit, make homemade bug spray (nontoxic) in a glass bottle, four pinecone fire-starters, a zero-waste eating satchel (silverware, a tin plate and bowl, a collapsable cup, a cloth napkin, and two charcoal water filters), hand sanitizer in tin, a hand lotion bar, a tin container of vegan sunscreen, fire herbs (aromatic herbs to put in the fire and make it smell good- lavender and rosemary are great), a small metal shovel, a few essential spices in tins (garlic, salt/pepper mix, and smoked paprika are great), vegan leather gloves, homemade dry shampoo, a whistle, and a survivor blanket. Put it all in a big tin pot that they can use to cook their food for a zero waste gift bag idea!

Make them art.

Art is powerful, and can be done in a low-waste way. Paint them something using the pigments from berries outside. Dye them a thrifted shirt using turmeric! The options are endless.

Send your father figure on a trip.

Memories last longer than things, so gifting someone with them is really thoughtful and impactful. Send them somewhere they’ve always wanted to go, or give them a staycation nearby where they live. Consider also giving them a little pack of zero waste vegan snacks and travel supplies for them to take with them. If you can’t send them somewhere even locally, because that does get expensive, giving them a smaller local experience if so fun too. Write a winery that’s near them and ask if they have gift cards, or send them tickets to a cool local event. If you can, go with them!

Donate on their behalf.

Donating is a powerful way to do good (when the organization is researched before donated to), so if one of your father figures has a favorite cause, donate in their name. It’s also a great idea to donate to conservation groups that are local to where they grew up or someplace that matters a lot to them. There are also groups that allow you to symbolically adopt an animal to protect them, so maybe adopt their favorite animal for them. Ask the organization to send you a certificate that you can give to your person or make one yourself! If you can’t give money, give your time. On behalf of them, spend an hour or two volunteering at your local homeless shelter, soup kitchen, animal shelter, garden or other charitable location. Do it on the day, and let them know you’re thinking of them and are volunteering in their honor, or do it before hand, and gift them with a card and pictures from the day, letting them know why they inspired you to do that.


Give your father figures homemade meal mixes in jars.

Put the dry ingredients for their favorite soup in a large jar (consider doing 4 servings worth of it), and mix well so that they can simply use a scoop to get it out and put it in a bowl or pot with boiling water (or broth). You can do the same thing with cookie mix, pancake mix, cake mix, vegan dip mix, and trail mix! Just write on the lid what they need to mix it with (for example, the pancake mix probably needs some plant milk and vegan butter). This makes it easier for them to enjoy their favorite recipes of yours, and they can have it and think of you even when you’re not there to cook it with them.

Make them a digital scrapbook of your favorite times together.

This can include all of your favorite photos with the two of you, or can be from a specific trip or month!

Pick them local flowers.

Make sure the flowers are not endangered, and be sure to put them back outside when they’re dead so that they can decompose properly. Flowers are not a gendered thing, although they are marketed that way. Everyone loves the smell of flowers, and it’s unfair that men’s gender and very identity is questioned when they wear floral prints, let alone buy themselves flowers. Pick them some flowers and greenery, and put them in a jar so that they can smell them throughout the day. They make beautiful and free decorations for the holiday as well!

Spend time with them.

Time is the best thing you can give someone, since it is so precious. If they live nearby, go to brunch together or spend some time just chatting. If they live far away, visit them or speak with them on the phone. You can even video call and watch a movie together for a long-distance movie day! The important thing is to make sure they feel loved, so prioritize that above everything.


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Photo: Emily Iris Degn

Emily Iris Degn
Emily Iris Degn is an environmental travel writer, editor, passionate eco-journalist, professional artist, and published eco-poet. She is from the San Juan Islands, but currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her incredible partner and beloved sea shell collection. You can find her in many spaces on Instagram: @emilyirisdegn @happyvegansfeed @emfallstoearth @emilydegnart OR at emilyirisdegn.com.


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