Note: This list is a personal list made by the author, and is not a paid post. This does not represent a list vouched for by MUNI in its entirety, and there are many other brands that could also fall within this list but just did not make it to the author’s cut at this time.
Christmas season usually ushers in chaos, confusion, even more horrendous traffic and panic-buying for those of us who cannot escape the tradition / social norm of gift-giving.
As a result, most people usually wind up giving and receiving more Christmas sweets than we can consume without getting diabetes (also usually painfully over-packaged in layers of foil and cellophane), every kind of hand soap (in various plastic containers), and oftentimes, random other products we don’t really know what to do with and can’t figure out how to politely dispose of (therefore a waste of resources in production and transport, and a pending landfill problem).
While I feel we should spend more time and resources on creating special memories with loved ones vs. filling their lives with more stuff, I recognize that people WILL consume nonetheless. Fortunately, there are products / gift ideas that are actually useful and meaningful.
I’ve made a rundown of Zero Waste Gift Ideas for varying budgets, recipient personas (for the foodies, the style savvy, zero waste explorers, travelers, etc.), and recipient sensibilities to zero waste living (from not so savvy, to those ready take it to the next level).
Read all the way ’til the end for the best (and bonus) ideas, and zero waste factoids! 🙂
FOR THE FOODIE (so in the Philippines, basically everyone)
Filipinos love gathering over food, and in the world over, we’ve seen a lack of people congregating over a wholesome meal made fresh that celebrates locally sourced / real food items with minimal to no preservatives. In his book and documentary In Defense of Food (watchable on Netflix), writer Michael Pollan encourages us to “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.
Here are just some gifts of health and sumptuous flavor that you can give your foodie friends, without any of the plastic packaging. (There are waaay too many glass bottle products for me to include in this list right now, so I only included the ones I love / are unique / am using right now.)
#1-3 Unique beverages and spirits from local makers
- Tea concentrate from Bayani Brew
(P180/500ml bottle of concentrate good for making 3 liters of tea;
P165/500ml bottle for orders of 12 bottles and up)
Happy that Bayani Brew’s teas are finally available in glass bottles!
Available in lemongrass pandan and sweet potato leaf flavors, made with organically grown crops sourced directly from farmers at up to 5x above market prices from partner farming communities including Gawad Kalinga, brewed with traditional methods, and sweetened with premium raw brown sugar.
* Order via www.shopee.com/bayanibrew or their Facebook page, or email to email@example.com. Lemongrass pandan concentrate is also available via Blue Kitchen outlets in Rockwell, Uptown BGC, Shangri-la Plaza and Robinson’s Magnolia (call to confirm availability).
- Tapuey rice wine from Proudly Promdi (P400/500ml bottle)
Made from locally produced gluttonous rice, cooked, fermented and then stored in earthen jars for two to three months. It is a local drink used and served during rituals and special occasions, which you can drink over ice or mixed in other drinks.
- Bugnay fruit wine from Proudly Promdi (P490/bottle)
Bugnay is a tropical fruit and berry that contains anti-oxidants and is good for the heart. The wines are all-natural (no additives) and handmade by the winemaking tribes of Adams in Ilocos Norte.
* Order via www.proudlypromdi.myshopify.com or their Facebook page, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bottles are also stocked at Ritual in Makati and Roots in Katipunan (call to confirm availability).
#4-5 Zero Waste snack & sweets
- Baby Cafe Coco Chips (P1.25/gram or P100/80 grams)
For those you know who are nuts about coconuts, this is a great treat, available in unsweetened and coconut sugar-sweetened (crispier!) variants, you can opt to get as little or as much as you might like. They have them available in kraft pouches too, but for a truly zero waste gift, I’d recommend repacking them into another airtight container your recipient can reuse, and that would be part of your gift too!
* Order via Baby Cafe’s Instagram or Facebook page, or email to email@example.com.
- Mana Bites snack subscription (P300 and up)
Taking from our recent MUNI Meetup on Zero Waste Ways in Business, Mana Bites offers a zero waste snack subscription where they rotate 2 containers to you or your chosen recipient for P200, then you can subscribe for any number of sweets over your chosen duration!
Apart from being zero waste, Mana Bites uses healthy, wholesome ingredients, rich in fiber, and sweeten their treats without using refined sugar, and opting for more wholesome alternatives like coconut sugar.
* Order via Mana Bites’ Instagram or Facebook page, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
#6 A regular delivery of fresh, organic veggies
- Good Food Community veggie subscription
(P300 for 1-week delivery or P1,050 for 4-week delivery of Salad Pack subscription – a half-kilo mix of salad greens and other veggies that can be eaten raw;
or P580 for 1-week delivery or P2,170 for 4-week delivery of Bayong Pambahay subscription – 3.5kgs of seasonal 9-12 hearty and leafy veggies)
Truly a gift of health to your recipient, and security to Good Food’s partner farmers in Tarlac! Just check that your recipient is someone looking to live healthier by making his / her own food from scratch and is looking for healthier, organic, fair trade veggies to make sure food doesn’t go to waste. 🙂
* Order via www.goodfoodcommunity.com/ or email email@example.com.
FOR THE STYLE SAVVY
Piling textile waste is a growing problem in the fashion industry today, and while arguably, the best way to combat this is by curbing consumption and choosing pre-loved items, there are makers that are more mindful about their use of textiles, sourcing scraps instead of always using virgin material, making designs that last, and practicing fair labor practices.
These gift ideas would be great for your fashion-forward trendsetter friends who can help make sustainable fashion a style standard and not just a trend.
#7-8 Practical everyday items made with scrap fabric
- R2R’s Matt travel wallet with wristlet (P1,049) and Charlie laptop sleeve (P1,749) are made with the signature R2R weave and are practical items for people to use. The laptop sleeve also comes with an indigenous textile flap, handwoven by talented artisan communities in the Philippines. It fastens with an adjustable belt, allowing it to hold a laptop as small as 11-inches or more heavy-duty like a 13″ Macbook.
* Order via www.thingsthatmatter.ph – R2R’s new e-commerce baby, which houses other meaningful, homegrown brands and gift ideas too.
#9 A completely upcycled, statement zero waste top
- Anthill Fabric Gallery’s Pamana zero waste top (P3499 and P3799)
Another brand featured at our recent MUNI Meetup on Zero Waste Ways in Business, Anthill produced this blouse with a 100% zero waste pattern – no end cuts, no remnant fabrics. It is handwoven from 100% waste or discarded fabrics from local designers and garment manufacturing in Cebu, cut into strips by partner social enterprise PTI International, and upcycled and handwoven into this fabric by a partner Argao Weaving Community.
* Order via www.facebook.com/AnthillFabricGallery or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR ZERO WASTE EXPLORERS
One way to get folks into zero waste habits is by showing them alternatives and letting them try it! Sometimes, all we need to do is find out where certain things are available, and be guided into the process by a supportive friend. 🙂
There are different options here for friends in different parts of their Zero Waste journey, so make sure you give them a gift for the appropriate leg of their journey so that you’re sure it won’t be an item that just lies around idle and not in use, otherwise, that would be a bigger waste!
#10-11 Zero Waste dental hygiene
- Bamboo toothbrushes by GoZero (P75)
Prior to this option, bamboo toothbrushes were a lot more expensive, and for people to shift the habit from plastic to bamboo, price was a major factor. (Did you know that in the US alone, 850 million to 1 billion toothbrushes go to landfills annually?)
GoZero has now made this a less elitist lifestyle choice (what with the critique of many that a sustainable lifestyle is an expensive one). Pair it with your own toothpaste made with baking soda, just enough virgin coconut oil to make it into a paste, and a few drops of food grade peppermint essential oil (or check out the next item on this list).
* Order via www.facebook.com/GoZeroPH.
- Remineralizing Tooth Powder (P150/110 grams) and Black Toothpaste (P150/190 grams) by Zero Basics
Toothpaste tubes are insidious and unnecessary when there are options like a simple recipe (in bamboo toothbrush blurb) and alternatives like these by Zero Basics. These are probably for the more zero waste savvy friends of yours, especially since the black toothpaste made with activated charcoal may be intimidating. 🙂
* Order via Zero Basics’ Facebook or Instagram, and check out the 3-in-1 face mask too (I’ve tried it myself!).
#12-13 Liquid hand soap and plastic-free, toxin-free home cleaning products
- Lemongrass liquid soap by Ritual (P170/350ml signature Ritual gin bottle – same container as the Citronella dish liquid in above photo, P210 with canvas pouch & card; P230/700ml bottle, P280 with canvas pouch & card)
A great entry-level gift that’s also generic enough and functional for everyone, minus the typical plastic bottle container. This mild, all-natural liquid soap is 100% biodegradable and made with coconut-based cleansers and pure organic lemongrass essential oil. May be used as a hand or body wash.
- Green cleaning box set by Ritual (P900/box set containing Citronella Dish Liquid (700ml), Citronella or Lemongrass Enzyme Deodorizer (350ml Spray), 2 segments of Victoria Herbal Laundry Bar, 500g of borax, 500g of baking soda, 2 packs of laundry starch, and 1 coconut fiber scrubber)
Another hyper-practical gift for young (or progressive) eco-moms, dads, and basically anyone who has their own space! Check out these other green home cleaning tips from Ritual’s Bea Misa Crisostomo at our recent MUNI Meetup on Zero Waste Ways at Home.
* Order via www.ritual.ph, the specific product links above, or drop by their store at 2/F Languages International Building, 926 Arnaiz Avenue, Makati, Metro Manila. Call them at (+632) 734 5486 or email them at email@example.com.
#14 Reusable beeswax wraps
- NatuWrap Beeswax food wraps by Milea All Organics (P395/set of 3 – 1 6.5″x6.5″, 1 10″x10″, and 1 14″x14″ wrap)
Plastic wrap / seran wrap / cling wrap is one of my pet peeves, and is unsustainable, single-use, petroleum-based, and insidious af. Because it’s so thin, it deceivingly feels like it’s “not wasteful”!
Not all beeswax wraps are made equal, and this one right here is made with beeswax and tree resin harvested straight from their organic farm, and muslin fabric vs. colorful, printed fabrics that may likely have polyester or other mixes that may make them non-biodegradable (which some sellers claim). Ask about the textile too when buying your beeswax wraps. 🙂
* Order via www.milea.ph or catch them at Legazpi Sunday Market.
#15-16 Zero waste feminine hygiene
For gift recipients you know have been considering it, but haven’t taken the leap just yet! Disposable sanitary napkins, like diapers last 100-200 years, and one of the unfortunately popular items that are collected from cleanup dives or coastal cleanups. Plastic tampon applicators don’t help either. Here are some possible alternatives:
- Reusable cloth pads by Ka Nami Cloth Pads (P120/pad)
Haven’t used these myself, but Angel of Ka Nami swears they’re absorbent! They’re also a fraction of the price I bought my Charlie Banana cloth pads years ago at P900 for a box of 3.
It takes a certain level of commitment to wash the pads though, so make sure your recipient is open to it. It’s a great first step before moving them onto the next, more zero waste option.
* Order via Ka Nami’s Facebook, or their partner Hamsa Earth-conscious Collections. They’re based in Bacolod, in case that’s relevant to you. 🙂
- Menstrual cups by Sinaya Cup (P1,199/cup)
Yes, I’ve had mine for nearly two years, but I still alternate this with cloth pads. 😀 Nonetheless, it’s a great option for active days when I go swimming or diving, or am traveling and washing cloth pads is out of the question.
This requires a certain level of commitment from the recipient though, and I won’t deny that it takes getting used to. Ultimately, once you get used to it, it’s a more convenient, zero waste option than the cloth pads as it also requires less water and soap to clean!
* Order via www.sinayacup.com, Sinaya Cup’s Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org.
#17 Zero Waste kit organizer
- Zero Waste kit burrito by Sip PH (P180/canvas wrap, P500/set with bamboo utensils, chopsticks, bent and milk tea metal straws and cleaner, and canvas wrap)
I want to disclaimer that I’m more advocating for the cloth wrap than the entire set, as people may usually have their own utensils at home anyway.
Furthermore, I’ve noticed that several folks who buy metal straws find it more to be a symbolic vs. functional item, reminding them that they don’t need the plastic straw, but often too lazy to bust it out and have to wash it, so they just refuse the plastic straw. Straws, whether plastic, metal or bamboo, are not essential items to drink any beverage, but if you had to choose one, a bamboo straw is compostable and more renewable. 🙂 In any case, this entire set would still make for a great gift alternative to jumpstart your recipient’s zero waste journey.
* Order via www.sip.ph.
FOR TRAVELERS, LEARNERS & DOERS
In my mind, nothing beats the gift of experience and shared memories. <3
Naturally, there are many more experiences that could have made this list, but, Here are just a few ideas from things I’ve tried myself and would love to do again and again!
#18-20 Travel Experiences
- Skin-diving Day Trip with Reef Nomads (P3,000/person inclusive of guide and lessons, transpo, meals, sanctuary fees; +P300 for equipment rental)
The Philippines is the center of the center of marine biodiversity, and it’s ironic that not more Filipinos take to the water! I believe that reconnecting people to nature and seeing both the beauty, and also the human-induced degradation of resources can compel people to take on more pro-environmental behavior.
* Check out trip schedules via Reef Nomads’ Facebook page.
- Overnight stay at Sonya’s Garden (P3,000/person on weekdays, P3,400/person on weekends, inclusive of 1 lunch or dinner, breakfast, and “art of doing nothing” activities including gardening and composting)
Perfect for your mom, tita, tumitita friends, or partner. Fell in love with it when I first stayed over, and it’s a place I’d love to be able to regularly go to because of the serenity and warm, familial staff. Food is veg-friendly and organically grown on site, and you may request for certain food items according to your dietary preferences. When I’m here, I feel like a queen / haciendera of sorts, but of the just, wholesome, organic, fair trade kind, because of the community that Sonya’s Garden has been able to help. 🙂
* Book via www.sonyasgarden.com/bed-breakfast.
- 6D/5N Zero Waste-themed trip throughout Negros Occidental with MUNI (P21,500/person for applications sent by November 30, inclusive of activities like farm tours, snorkeling, a customized MUNI Meetup, etc., accommodations, meals, transportation, guide fees and zero waste essentials)
Didn’t plan on including this in the list, but hey, might as well. 🙂
Naturally, this would be for a more special person in your life who you feel could use more than just a day trip, and could use the boost of inspiration + community support from MUNI and its partners in organic farming, marine conservation, sustainable tourism, and social enterprise.
Here, travelers can learn about integrated, zero waste farming practices, the impact of plastics on our oceans, sustainable sourcing and production in business, and discover how they can contribute in their own way.
* View trip details here, and e-mail inquiries to email@example.com.
BONUS! FOR THE DIY GIFT-GIVERS: Labor of love ideas
These are relatively simple, inexpensive, but some more time-intensive ideas that I’m just throwing out there, but you’ll have to put in the work / time for yourself. 😉
- Cook a healthy meal (or plan a cookout) with your loved ones using plant-based, package-free food items
Nothing says I love you, I care about your health, and “hey, it’s doable!” more than taking the time to make a meal from scratch. You can get organic produce from Good Food Community, cool salts from Ritual, and experiment with hearty veg stews or simple one-pot meals.
- Make your own personal care products for them
A simple recipe is the toothpaste one I mentioned above, but you can also make other personal care products like salves / balms or yoga mat sprays with kitchen ingredients like baking soda, virgin coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and various essential oils. Avoid giving folks anything for their face or underarms if you’re new to the world of personal care DIY and are unsure of their skin’s reaction to those ingredients.
- Plan a wholesome Netflix documentary binge with them
Provided that they have open minds (because you don’t want to be forcing them to sit through these documentaries), check out In Defense of Food, The C Word, Cooked, Chasing Coral, A Plastic Ocean, Mission Blue, and True Cost to name a few. Sometimes, people need the extra encouragement by having someone to watch these things with and become more mindful of the impact of mindless consumption on our own health and that of the planet. Couple it with wholesome snacks mentioned earlier in this list!
- Take the time to hear them out and give long, warm hugs
Sometimes the only thing our family and friends really need from us are undivided attention and an un-judgmental ear. 🙂
Editor’s note: There are a lot more options that could be added to this list, but it’s a hefty list for now! What other options would you recommend? We’d love to know your ideas! Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 🙂
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jen Horn is the founder of MUNI, an advocate of responsible travel & consumption, and a communications and community engagement consultant. She enjoys being in, on, under, or near the water, eating veggies, witty remarks and sarcasm, and learning about link between psychology and pro-environmental behavior. She works to use jedi mind tricks to help the world triumph over apathy, single-use plastic, among other things we don’t need in the world. Follow her at @nomadmanager.