How to Keep Your Gift Giving Low Waste


Living zero or low waste is a tricky one at the best of times, but Christmas! Christmas and waste seem to go hand in hand. Your credit card can end up seeing more of you than your favourite people as we enter a frenzy of spending on tat that the festive season seems to demand we buy.

Alright. *Negativity over* because we also know that Christmas goes hand in hand with BRILLIANT things; giving, outrageous generosity and quality time with loved ones. Awesome. So how do we reconcile wanting to show people we really like them with acting consciously and loving the planet at the same time?

 1. Give Experiences

This one takes the biscuit in terms of limiting waste: scrap presents all together and choose to make promises to your loved ones instead. Promises of picnics on the next sunny day, of a homemade feast, adventure day or workshop. This means less waste on Christmas day and more quality time with your favourite people! Win. Check out these guys for some brilliant options for experiences:

In the UK: Homethrown Studios, Miscellaneous Adventures, Bezalel Workshops

In South Africa: She is Visual, Veld and Sea, The Hobbyist

2. Try Secret Santa

In my family we’ve spent the last few years doing Secret Santa. We buy for the one person who’s name we drew from the hat, and spend a limit of £50 on them. The money limit and focus on one person has meant we no longer participate in a buying frenzy and our perspective is where it should be– on each other and not on what’s under the tree. We also each make a list of gifts we would love to receive so that our Secret Santa doesn’t waste money on something that isn’t needed or won’t be loved- limiting waste. 

3. Buy from small companies

When you do buy gifts, opt for buying from awesome companies. The small one’s who care that the product they sell harmed no humans/animals/mother nature in the process. Companies that pay their workers fairly and that use materials that are sustainably and ethically sourced. Sure the prices when buying from local or small businesses are often bigger but you are usually investing in something bigger too- in creativity, vision, hard work and families. Buying like this also usually means that what you are buying is quality and lasts- meaning you waste less in the long run. These are a handful of my favourite makers:

In the UK: The future kept, Hatchet and Bear, Objects of Use, Christabel Balfour, The Level Collective, The Burlap People

In South Africa: Kin Culture Shop, Jane Sews, Conteu Magazine, Ashley Heather Jewellery, ResoborgThe Burlap People

4. Make Stuff

You know, good old fashioned stuff, like body scrubs, plant markers, spoonsorfood. Making things takes time and shows some real effort and love for the person who receives it. It also means you are in charge of the process- limiting waste. 

5. Wrap them well

Rather than using traditional wrapping paper that usually ends up straight in the bin, how about wrapping your gift in material? The Japanese have been doing this for hundreds of years (Furoshiki) and it not only looks beautiful but the receiver of your gift can keep on using it. You could even try dyeing the material first using flowers or avocado skins. Failing that, wrap your presents in old newspaper you have lying around and use unbleached string instead of sellotape to hold it firm.

What ideas do you have to keep your gift giving low waste? Know any great small companies to support?

How to Keep Your Gift Giving Low Waste | A guide to eco-friendly living by The Foraged Life