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Local Guide to Zero-waste Gifting

The holiday season is here, which means shopping, spending, gifting, and unfortunately, contributing to the single-use waste crisis.

Of the $1,048 the average person will spend during the 2019 holiday shopping season, $659 of that will be spent on gifts for family, friends or co-workers, according to the National Retail Federation report. This holiday let’s change the game and consider spending money on locally-made, secondhand, and experiential gifts to reduce our community’s waste footprint in the landfill, streets, and waterways.

Below are several examples of how you can support a reuse and repair economy and environmentally-friendly business practices in Allen County during the holidays (and save money too!).

Give Second-hand Items

Home decor

Check out your local second-hand stores like Goodwill for gifting home decor that is timeless and trendy. Shopping vintage is also an environmentally sustainable and (sometimes) affordable option.

Goodwill Industries of Northeast Indiana


High-quality clothing can be expensive. Visit your local second-hand stores or online stores like Poshmark for gently-used clothing. You might be surprised by what you find!

Goodwill Industries of Northeast Indiana

Give an Experience

Gift certificates

From maker spaces like The Build Guild that provide spaces to craft and repair items to the Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot that encourage residents to get outside, giving gift certificates that support a reuse culture is a more environmentally-friendly option.

The Build Guild

Need a gift for a book lover? Give the gift of wonder and knowledge at a locally-owned book store like Hyde Brothers Booksellers. Gifting gently-used books will save you money and millions of trees–it’s a win-win for all!

Hyde Brothers Booksellers

Other Ideas:

  • Farm-to-table restaurant gift certificate
  • Farmers Market gift certificate
  • Local concert tickets
  • Annual pass to Allen County Parks
  • Museum and zoo pass

Eco-friendly & Reusable Items

House plants

Shopping for the green thumb in your life? Consider gifting a house plant that will last them for months or years to come! Buy from a locally-owned plant shop like Honey Plant for all your house plant needs. Many plant shops like Honey Plant and other garden centers will take back your plastic containers to be reused.

On a tight budget? You can propagate a plant you already own.

Honey Plant

Reusable water bottles

Humans buy approximately 20,000 plastic bottles every second, according to Euromonitor. Recycling single-use water bottles is a great practice, but it’s not the best option for conserving resources, preventing waste from entering the environment, and protecting our health.

Research released in 2018 found that more than 90 percent of bottled water from the world’s leading brands was contaminated with microplastics. If plastic water bottles don’t get recycled, they end up in landfills, oceans, or rivers and sidewalks, slowly turning into microplastics which can have detrimental effects on wildlife and human health.

Solution: Use a reusable–preferably stainless steel or glass–water bottle! Reusable water bottles save energy and money and reduce single-use plastic waste. You can purchase a reusable water bottle at most local grocery stores, but if you’re looking for something more unique, check out a locally-owned boutique like The Find.

The Find

Reusable food containers

Many disposable takeout containers made of polystyrene are not accepted in curbside recycling bins or ACDEM’s Community Recycling Drop-off Sites. Disposable containers that are lined with plastic can also leech chemicals into your food if hot, which has been proven to be linked to a variety of health issues. Gross.

Solution: Give the gift of health by buying a set of reusable, plastic-free food containers for the foodies in your life.

The Find

Reusable straws

According to the Trash Free Seas Alliance, the average American uses 1.6 straws per day. In the U.S. alone, that’s enough to circle the equator two and a half times. Plus, plastic straws are not recyclable locally and they will never biodegrade.

Solution: Say “No straw, please” when you go out or bring your own reusable straw with you on the go! Stainless steel, glass, silicone, and disability-friendly straws can be purchased locally at some grocery stores and boutiques.

The Find

Eco-friendly notebooks

Looking for a gift for the writer in your life? Give a unique journal or notebook made from recycled materials from a locally-owned store like Creative Women of The World.

Creative Women of the World

Other Ideas:

  • Beer growlers from a local brewery
  • Honey, jams, syrups, mustards, and kimchi from local producers

Reusable Gift Packaging

Once you’ve finished shopping for gifts plan out the kind of gift packaging you will need. Choose reusable or eco-friendly gift packaging.

You can find eco-friendly packaging that is reusable at locally-owned stores like Creative Women of the World. Reuse gift bags, scarves, T-shirts, magazines and newspapers for wrapping and packaging presents.

Here are some examples for inspiration:

Creative Women of the World
Creative Women of the World