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Chelsea Zero Waste Coalition: Zero Waste Giving

By Julia Strimer

A thoughtful gift is not an expensive one; it’s being thoughtful about the person who will receive your gift.

A thoughtful gift is not a gift that you would like, nor is it a gift you think someone should like; it is one your recipient will actually like.

Give something the person will find useful, that will be enjoyed.

There is nothing more precious to give than your time. A coupon book is a great way to give your time. It might include cleaning, yard work, cooking or babysitting. Maybe you’ll do a month’s worth of freezer meals. Or perhaps teach guitar.

A coupon book can also make a great present for kids, especially if it’s full of activities you can do together. 

Let’s continue to give generously, because giving gifts is a fun way of showing love, but let’s give thoughtfully – giving gifts that our friends and family will genuinely appreciate without adding to the clutter of our consumer society. 

Here are some zero waste gift giving ideas from Strimer and the Chelsea Zero Waste Coalition:

  • Send e-cards rather than mailed cards.
  • Use cloth bags or scarves for gifts, rather than wrapping paper.
  • Give an experience, like tickets to a museum, a hot air balloon ride, concerts, parks, cooking together, or any type of class.
  • Give a gift certificate for classes (dancing, guitar, art, cooking etc.).
  • Give a membership to a wellness center or yoga studio.
  • Donate to a charity that the person values.
  • Give a book.
  • Plant trees in honor of the recipient. One suggestion: Arbor Day Foundation
  • Bake/make something delicious.
  • Share your talents; writing, photography, art, woodworking.
  • Shop locally to avoid overpackaging and transportation carbon footprint.
  • Create a collection of reusables: cloth bag, water bottle, etc. 
  • Give cloth diaper service to new parents.
  • Donate to Heifer International in someone’s name.
  • Volunteer as a family rather than give gifts.
  • Any time you go to throw away something large, try to find someone to give it to or find another use for it.
  • Make art out of anything and everything.
  • If you wrap gifts, save the wrappings from year to year, sew fabric bags to use & reuse, or use newspaper to wrap gifts
  • Give car wash coupons
  • Make pre-made, dry ingredient recipes in a mason jar
  • Make jams, salsas, canned veggies

Want to read more? Read our inspiration article here: How to Be a Gift Giving Guru and Give Gifts People Will Absolutely Love


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