Zero Waste Your Christmas Gifts


Way, way up, on the top shelf of my closet, I stash Christmas presents.  This year I see a (insert hubs’ gift) I found at my dad’s house, a few dress-up dresses from some friends with older girls, and my favorite, this soft Madeline doll.

I’d like to remind everyone I live in a tiny house, so storing things is a big deal.  But there she is.  Yellow hat and all.

The reason she’s been camping out up there is because I found her on Craigslist for $20.

This past summer.

Totally worth it to miss out on some more wasteful packaging.

It’s fun to go crazy on gifts but if I could throw out a few ideas:


Next to regifting from your own closet, Craigslist is great – because apparently Craig always lives in your hometown.  But eBay’s used stuff can work too.  It’s my go-to for doll clothes.  Just make sure you check the “Used” box under “Condition” and maybe communicate to the seller you’d prefer less packaging.  Sigh – I totally just made a bid for some more 14″ clothes while looking this up.

Ski swaps are usually held in the fall, good timing for Christmas gifts.  My favorite new retail trend is second hand gear stores.  Like Zero Waste REI.  Friend just got a new bike?  How about a gift certificate for some additional accoutrements?  You can usually find quality jackets too, especially for kids since they don’t wear them while changing a dirty diaper in the back of the station wagon in the ski resort parking lot.  Or troll the ReStore for tools for your handy men.

My favorite, used books!  Kid books, cook books, and popular fiction always seem to float between friends.  Our library holds a used book sale every year and it’s the place to go to stock up on books and watch Feats of Strength performed by motivated, elderly readers trying to wipe out the competition.


Calendars are a popular gift.  I’d look on Etsy for printers that use recycled paper or even sell up-cycled gifts.  Or even better – try a perpetual calendar.  Of course, then you’ve got to come up with something new next year.

Up-cycled, reusable AND recyclable. Good on you.

If you’re crafty, make one out of your kids’ school drawings.  Probably grandma material only.  Or aunts.

I give my mother-in-law a wreath every year which, in theory, could be composted.  I’m sure she’s reading this right now…eyebrow raised.


You can step it up and go for experience-based gifts.  I know someone, with brown hair, two kids and a blog about Zero Waste that would sure love a day of skiing…  Or someone to come clean the house while I’m out on the slopes.  Some moms would like to be pampered, others might have their eye on a toddler class they’ve been thinking of trying out.  How about a car wash or detail for the dudes?  Especially nice during the winter months when it’s too cold for the hose and driveway.

So easy. Just start before Halloween.


If you aren’t going to bring me a lift ticket to Taos, how about stopping by with some peppermint bark or banana bread?  My mother-in-law makes and freezes, like, a dozen mini-loafs of lemon poppy seed cake in October.  Come December she thaws them and passes them out to the mailman, UPS and Fed Ex dudes, newspaper guy and sends us the leftovers.

Next year you could consider the easiest gift-in-a-jar:  homemade vanilla.


How about reusable gifts?  Give a mom those sweet-looking reusable snack bags.  Or a working friend a reusable lunch bag.  Maybe some pretty cloth napkins.  If you can get it at a local arts and craft fair, even better.

Or gifts that inspire zero waste.  Like this produce keeper I found on eBay.  Seriously, I think this post is turning into my own giant hint for Santa.

If you think someone is on the cusp of a serious Zero Waste lifestyle change, how about a reusable coffee mug they can start taking to the cafe?


If you are going to buy new gifts, and, truth be told, I will probably find myself in front of a cash register at least once this season, don’t forget to bring your reusable grocery bags.  If you are going to be out among the crowds, you might as well make a green impression!

I will say that I’m lucky that my girls are still little.  But the oldest watches me look for stuff on Craigslist.  We don’t go to toy stores.  I avoid the back row entirely at Target.  And the biggest thing, I don’t let the kids watch kid commercials.  I can’t compete with that.  Chuck Norris can’t compete with that.  Chuck Norris might be able to win Connect Four in only three moves, but you know he only owns that game because his daughter saw it between Strawberry Shortcake episodes.

November 13, 2014

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



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