Since #BluePlanetEffect there has been a lot of focus on plastic pollution. So why not be part of the solution this Christmas and gift zero waste Christmas gifts that help to reduce plastic pollution.
Without meaningful action there will be more plastic than fish by weight in our Oceans within as little as 30 years. I therefore created this two part blog to help you work towards zero waste christmas gifts at this festive time.
This is part one with part two ‘10 tips for a Zero Waste Christmas’‘
One of the key changes is to ditch single use plastic and use re-useables and to also learn more about the problem of plastic pollution. I love gifting these plastic clever eco swaps and books to friends and family as it encourages them to make simple changes. Gifts like this also open up a conversation around the solutions.
Here are some of my top tips for zero waste Christmas gifts that will help you to reduce your impact on plastic pollution:
#1 Gift A Charity Membership
Surfers Against Sewage are leading the way with their Plastic Free Coastlines campaign and have a really useful set of toolkits for schools, individuals and businesses to get them on the path to reducing plastic. Their most noteworthy supporters last year were the Royal Wedding, which as a result enabled them to produce some awesome toolkits.
So, why not gift a membership for Christmas or visit their online shop, to support their work and learn at the same time?
They also sell Guppy Friend Laundry bags that collect up synthetic fibres released when washing your clothes and helps to prevent them getting into our oceans.
#2 Support a Social Enterprise like Ocean Sole
I love these flip flop creatures by social enterprise Ocean Sole.
Ocean Sole facilitated the removal of over 520,000 flip flops from the marine environment last year. They employ 92 artists in Kenya to sculpt these beautiful creatures and positively affect 900 Kenyans along the whole process. As a consequence employees have been able to educate their children and support their families. So, Ocean Sole is laying down a long lasting legacy for positive change.
While Ocean Sole make stuff from waste, they also aim minimise any waste they produce. So any left over flip flop scraps are turned into mattresses for refugees. Hence buying a gift from gets you a unique and colourful sculpture and has a positive impact. The sculptures are also great for show and tell at school or generally for any creature lover!
My favourites are the sharks, which creature would your loved one like?
#3 A Good Read
Learning about solutions and education are key. These books are worth paying attention to and are zero waste Christmas Gifts that will keep on giving.
Written by Lucy Siegle from TV and newspaper fame. It is a really well researched book which contains loads of practical tips.
Aimed more at what businesses can do, this is an essential guide to anyone wanting to create a more sustainable work environment.
Bea Johnson has a husband and two kids and only produces a jam jar of waste each year. She was a hige inspiration to Zero Waste Maman, whose podcast episode is here. Find out how she does it!
This is the new book just out from Natalie Fee of City to Sea and Refill fame. I’m yet to read it but it’s been hughly recommended and is on my list for sure!
Head of Oceans at Greenpeace UK Will McCallum has some great simple tips in this book. Another great zero waste Christmas gift to help reduce plastic pollution.
Martin Dory founded #2minutebeachclean and has been on the front line of the issue for many years now. He is therefore one of the oracles on all things waste.
Zero Waste Audio Books
I LOVE audio books and what a fab zero waste gift for someone to receive a subscription or credits for an audio book. Audible gives me the chance to ‘read’ on the go and to try books out before I get the paper version. I highly recommend audible for audio books and if you havent tried it before you get a free trial!
#4 Re-use Essentials
The top four polluters (other than cigarettes and fishing gear) are plastic bottles and tops, coffee cups, bags and straws. In contrast, there are plenty of re-useable alternatives. I love these as zero waste Christmas gift ideas.
Bamboo cutlery is non-toxic, light weight and sustainable and therefore make a great bag essential. I carry a set around with me so I don’t have to use single use plastic cutlery when I’m eating on the go.
I love this set by Bambaw as it has a cool carry case which helps keep them hygienic while lurking in the bottom of my bag. It also has a reuse straw and cleaner for the rare occasions I have a drink that MUST have a straw.
Click on the image now to buy this set before it runs out.
With 85 million plastic bottles being ‘thrown away’ every minute it is vital that we reduce our use of these. Therefore carrying a re-use water bottle is an every day essential. There are loads of these on the market now. They all have different qualities so it really is down to personal choice.
My number one go to is my Water-to- Go bottle because its filter enables me to drink any water wherever I am in the world. I can also top up in rivers, streams and canals, and here at home it filters out most of the micro-plastics found in tap water. They have plenty of colours and designs so do click on the bottle to learn more and perhaps buy one for a globe trotting chum.
I have an exclusive discount code for you guys.
I LOVE these produce bags for loose fruit and veg. These are still not that commonplace so would make a great gift even if you think your friend or loved one might already have enough tote bags.
For more information click the image.
Reuse Coffee Cup
Many coffee shops now offer discounts for those with a reuse cup. As a result Waitrose has got rid of all single use cups. John Lewis made a similar announcement recently and more will inevitably follow. Consequently, a re-use cup makes a great gift and for a coffee lover will make a huge impact on reducing plastic pollution.
A recent article in the Independent reviewed the available cups on the market. The three below are my favourites from that list. Stojo Collapsible Coffee are great as an everyday bag essential as it doesn’t take up much space, so is ideal for commuters.
Hydroflask are great for keeping coffee warm in the cold an they do other bottles and food containers too. Ecoffee Cup is made from sustainable bamboo which is also compostable and has awesome designs and patterns.
#5 Eco Bathroom Fancies for the Men and Women in Your Life
Bamboo Toothbrushes make a great gift.
Plastic toothbrushes contain toxic chemicals and are un-recyclable. As we put them in our mouths every day it is a no brainer life swap for me.
Bamboo toothbrushes are also bio-degradable, and there are claims that bamboo has natural antibacterial qualities .
I love this set of brushes as it has a mixture of bristle strengths and an awesome holder for travelling with. Top plastic clever Christmas gift for reducing plastic pollution IMO. Especially if you think how many toothbrushes you use each year.
Bamboo Safety Razor
Did you know that every plastic razor, indeed every plastic item you have ever used probably still exists somewhere in one form or another? Plastic does not ‘go away’.
I love this bamboo razor with its presentation box. The blades are replaceable, universal and available globally. So no more trawling the pharmacies abroad to find the right (expensive) replacement blades for your plastic shaving nemesis.
Olive Wood Brush / Soap
Why not team up your razor gift with a beautiful wooden, vegan (i.e. no badger was harmed in the making of this) brush and some plastic free shaving soap?
Not to discriminate those chaps with a beard…..
A great gift to ease aching muscles, or as an indulgent treat.
Lush is a great one stop shop for eco products and plastic clever gifts. Their unpackaged ethos leads the way for unpackaged soaps, shampoos, solid shower gels and bath bombs. All their products are cruelty free too. A a result, their shampoo bars are an everyday essential for me.
#6 Make Your Gifts From Scratch
Instead of joining the consumer rat race you could always make your own gifts. There are some great recipe ideas in this BBC article (click the image for the link), Christmas gift recipe ideas.
Other ideas I have made in the past:
- Speculoos Cookies (which remind me of my childhood in Holland)
- Ginger Bread Men / Trees / Snowmen
- Spiced Orange Vodka / Sloe Gin
Another idea would be to get some second hand baskets and make a mini hamper up with your wares. I love this this do-it-yourself martini kit from the BBC article.
Gratitude Jar (a great antidote to Eco-Anxiety!):
It can be very therapeutic to our mental health to write down three gratitudes each day and so why not make a gratitude jar for a loved one.
As a result they will have a lovely place to store the things that they are grateful for. Or their dreams and ambitions, all hand decorated by you! A dream jar could be a great gift for kids.
#7 Plastic Clever gift ideas for Kids
Kids Against Plastic Merchandise
Amy and Ella Meek coined the phrase ‘plastic clever’. Their charity Kids Against Plastic also does great work to inspire the younger generation to make a difference.
Why not gift some of their merchandise and therefore encourage your kids to join their campaign as an ambassador?
Long standing friends of Incredible Oceans, Whalebags make a great gift for yogi’s, kids and adults. Whats not to love about a brightly coloured bag with a whale on it?! Whalebags founder Carolyn is also a fellow plastic warrior and you can find out more about her Paddle Board adventures here.
Noma Swimwear from Ghost Nets
Ghost nets refer to any fishing net that has been lost, discarded or abandoned at sea. They continue fishing once lost and are therefore the most harmful form of marine debris.
Noma Swimwear is made from ghost fishing nets and other waste and is therefore an ideal choice. Also designed and made in the UK as an independent brand. Don’t forget to put it in a Guppy Friend wash bag though.
Pencils that you can then grow into plants that you eat! And positive affirmations on each one…. Winning!
Made by the guys at Bureo who also make sunglasses and skateboards. All their products are made from ghost nets. The Jenga Ocean has great fun ocean facts on too. What a great circular economy zero waste Christmas Gift to reduce plastic pollution and learn about the ocean at the same time.
#8 Gift an experience
I love making up vouchers for days out that mean I get to spend time with my friends and family. Examples of gifts I have given:
- A membership to the National Trust
- Last year I got my Dad a day in London with me where we went for lunch and then played crazy golf.
- Tickets to a comedy
- A Safari in Sussex
- A hike followed by cake or beer
- A singing lesson
You can get really creative with this and make your own voucher. Or, if you don’t want to do it yourself there are plenty of companies out there who will arrange an experience for you.
Why not gift a life changing experience! Going on a kayak course for example or maybe bouldering or navigation skills. I was inspired to explore my own potential and push my boundaries when I went on an Evoke Adventure Kayak trip check out their courses for some inspiration. Maybe you can be responsible for inspiring someone to be a better version of themselves. Also check out British Canoeing for your local centre that might give you a taster day.
#9 Home and Garden Plastic Clever Gift Ideas
Cling-film is another singe-use plastic nemesis and so I stopped using it some time ago. I do however still struggle to convince my parents to break free of their cling film habit. Hence this year I’ll be gifting some of these beautiful bees wax wraps that can be used, washed and reused.
It was only recently I realised that loofah was in fact a plant and not a sponge from the ocean, who knew! So I immediately stocked up and switched away from plastic J-Cloths. Loofah also grow quite sustainably so they make great eco sponges and scourers that biodegrade too. You might want exercise caution with the message you are giving someone when buying a washing up sponge though. It is also found in personal care products which, on reflection may be a more appropriate gift. Either way, a good stocking filler!
#10 Up-cycle, Buy Second Hand, Redistribute
Who says you can’t trawl eBay auctions for zero waste Christmas gifts? One person’s unwanted item is another’s treasure and all that jazz. Look in Charity shops for unique gifts and that vintage vibe. Maybe look on Freegle for something you can up-cycle? As a result you might find treasures! Maybe you can revamp an old mirror, turn tin cans into plant pots, jam jars in to storage or old bottles into candle holders. There are tonnes of ideas if you search for them on the oracle that is Google (or any other search engine that you prefer!), why not get creative?
Or maybe you have an unwanted something or other than you can repurpose for someone who might appreciate it more. My word of warning with this is to remember where it came from! You don’t really want to get caught out re-gifting to the same person that gave it to you.
#11 Plastic free toys for your furry friends
And Finally, don’t forget your pets at Christmas. Admittedly, they are probably mostly interested in the left overs than anything else but I love these plastic free sea creatures for cats and dogs.
These are just some ideas for zero waste Christmas Gifts and there are loads more out there, please do share others you find in the comments below. My friend has just told me that her family are doing a £5 limit for all and something from a charity shop. What a great way to limit unnecessary stuff and give back at the same time.