After having read books like Zero Waste Home, Plastic Free, Garbology, and Overdressed, it's hard to go back to shopping carelessly for holiday gifts. This year I'm doing little themed gifts with the over arching theme of being crafted in the USA or at least thoughtfully designed and purchased through small businesses (it's hard to be perfect). Zero Waste is a great theme to build around and a subtle, but fun way to introduce the idea to your friends and relatives. I've curated a small list below, for more ideas check out the Conscious by Chloé shop and the Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home shop.
For the ladies in your life, give the gift of a happy period. I bought mine back in college and I'm still using them eight years later. Quality product for the price and a money saver overtime. There are many different types of reusable cotton pads out there, but only Gladrags are designed with a little pocket to hold the liners in place so they don't move around and you can adjust the amount of coverage according to your flow. Made from a soft flannel, you can feel the difference when you switch from synthetic pads to natural ones.
This nifty invention is a great alternative to plastic wrap. Made with four simple ingredients: organic cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin, these wraps can be used to wrap anything from bread to vegetables to cheeses. Beeswax has a heavenly smell and natural antibacterial properties to keep your food fresh. Create a seal by using the heat from your hands to warm the wax. To reuse, simply wash with cold water and mild soap.
You've probably already made the switch to reusable grocery bags, but what about those pesky plastic produce bags? I still find myself feeling guilty about using them to hall my produce home and then immediately discarding them in the trash. That's why these are on my holiday wish list this year. They are a great alternative to plastic produce bags. Cotton pillow cases work great too, but these cuties make a much nicer gift for friends and family. This starter pack comes in three convenient sizes and can be used for produce or for dry goods like beans and rice. No special cleaning instructions, just throw in the wash to launder.
"In her first book, Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson shares the story of how she and her family have dramatically improved their lives by reducing their waste. Not only do they now have more time together as a family now, but they’ve also cut their annual spending by a remarkable 40 percent, and they are healthier than they've ever been, both emotionally and physically. Packed with easy, sustainable tips that even the busiest people can adopt, the book also offers practical guidance that will give readers the tools they need to simplify their own lives, from bringing jars to the store to stock up on bulk items to exfoliating with oatmeal and to cleaning mildew with hydrogen peroxide rather than toxic store-bought cleansers."
"Like many people, Beth Terry didn’t think an individual could have much impact on the environment. But while laid up after surgery, she read an article about the staggering amount of plastic polluting the oceans and decided then and there to kick her plastic habit. Now she wants to teach you how you can too. In her quirky and humorous style—well known to the readers of her popular blog, My Plastic-Free Life—Terry provides personal anecdotes, stats about the environmental and health problems related to plastic, and personal solutions and tips on how to limit your plastic footprint."
Mesh bags are great for winter produce like apples and squash. What I love about this bag is the long strap that leaves your hands free to do your shopping. It would make a great farmer's market tote as it stretches to fit bulkier items like ears of corn or bunches of herbs and greens. This one is handmade in California from 100% cotton yarn. If you're looking for a more traditional style check out the ones available online from Zero Waste Market in Denver, CO.
Ditch the dryer sheets and fabric softeners for Woolzies. Made from 100% New Zealand wool, simply throw them in the dryer with your clothes like you would a dryer sheet. These fuzzy little guys are good for a thousand loads and can be composted at the end of their life. They help save time and energy by reducing drying time by 25%. Spend less time doing laundry and more time having fun (though I think laundry is kinda fun)!