Whether you like it or not, ’tis the season for exchanging gifts with friends and family. Rather than impulse/panic buying something silly that they neither want or need at the last minute, consider the slightly more thoughtful DIY route. Even better, create consumable zero waste gifts tailored to their tastes that won’t take up shelf space after their use runs out.

DIY is a great option since you have more control over ingredients and packaging, making it pretty simple to sneakily pass on zero waste gifts without anyone even realizing it!

Ingredients: most if not all of these items can be found with minimal packaging either locally or online. The big exception is beeswax, which is almost exclusively sold wrapped or bagged in plastic. I’d suggest buying in large quantities and storing to reduce multiple plastic bags or buying in these resealable ziploc bags which can be reused for bulk.

Packaging: All of these consumable zero waste gifts can be placed in reusable containers so that even after the zero waste gifts have been used, there’s still value in the packaging. Source some beautiful second hand tins or vintage glass containers to house your gifts. (See my tips for effective zero waste thrift shopping in this post.)

NB: if under time, it states ‘mostly non-active’, it means most of the time will be spent steeping/mixing/chilling, etc.

Put it on your body

Herbal Healing Salve
You’ll need: oil, herbs of your choice, beeswax, essential oils (optional)
Time: approximately 2 hours, mostly non-active

Winter-Fighting Lip Scrub
You’ll need: coffee grounds, coconut oil, essential oils (optional)
Time: about 5 minutes

Vegan Lip Balm
You’ll need: cocoa butter, olive oil
Time: 8 hours, mostly non-active

Zero Waste Perfume
You’ll need: vodka, flowers
Time: 2-6 weeks, non-active

Scented Bath Salts
You’ll need: epsom salts, baking soda, essential oils, oil of choice
Time: 5 minutes

Easy consumable zero waste gifts - Green Indy Blog

Put it in your house

Simple Candles
You’ll need: wax, cotton wick, fragrance, container for candle
Time: approximately 1 hour

Assorted Herb Garden
You’ll need: herbs of choice, soil, container
Time: 10-15 minutes

Homemade Hand Soap
You’ll need: soap base, olive oil, essential oils, herbs, rubbing alcohol, molds
Time: 2-4 hours, mostly non-active

Put it in your stomach

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
You’ll need: powdered creamer or milk, cocoa, sugar, peppermint candy, marshmallows
Time: about 10 minutes

Chai Tea Mix
You’ll need: various spices, black tea
Time: 15 minutes

Infused Oils
You’ll need: olive oil, flavor (herbs, garlic, lemon, etc.)
Time: 2-3 weeks, non-active

Vanilla Extract
You’ll need: vanilla beans, cheap vodka
Time: about 6 weeks, non-active

Peppermint Bark
You’ll need: white chocolate, dark chocolate, heavy cream, peppermint
Time: about 90 minutes

You’ll need: kombucha SCOBY*, black tea, sugar
Time: 1-3 weeks, non-active

*Want a kombucha SCOBY to make your own? Shoot me an email – polly@greenindyblog.com!

What else could you add to this list of consumable zero waste gifts? What’s gone over well in holidays past? Share in the comments, please!


An online resource here to help you break down the complex issue of zero waste into simple, actionable steps.


Gillian · November 30, 2017 at 12:34 pm

These are amazing ideas!!! Thank you!

    Polly · December 2, 2017 at 11:10 am

    You’re welcome! I hope you’ll find something to toy around with for the holidays!

ClassyAshli · December 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

A few of years ago before I knew zero waste was a thing, I made everyone bath bombs. Someone thought one was a cookie and was very confused when she tried to bite into it 😂😂😂

One of these days I’m gonna get around to making candles. I don’t know why the idea freaks me out, but for some reason I just feel like I’m gonna mess it up lol

    Polly · December 5, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    omg that’s hilarious/tragic!

    I have the same weird fear re: candles. Like, I know it’s essentially just wax and string but I haven’t gotten there yet! Plus, I haven’t yet sourced a good spot for bulk beeswax, but someday!

Celia | Litterless · December 6, 2017 at 12:40 pm

I gave homemade vanilla extract earlier this year for birthdays and Valentine’s Day – so much fun to make!

AJ · May 30, 2018 at 5:15 am

Some very cool ideas here, and not just for gifts but for everyday use. Thanks!

    Polly · May 30, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Great! Enjoy creating, AJ!

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