I’m moving into a 1000 square foot, 130-year-old house with nothing but the absolute basics. “How to create a zero waste house” is an ongoing series which will address different parts of the house and the best tips/DIYs/products for going zero waste. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through them, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. 

We recently moved into a new home and I’ve had several people express interest in sending me a housewarming gift.

They’re kind of funny things, housewarming gifts: on the one hand, it’s a very kind way to welcome someone to their new home, but can also be the chance to get something you might honestly not use or get value out of. It’s also often expected and – as someone who is not a big gift giver – I struggle on what to get that would actually be useful.

So as I was moving in to the new house, I considered what kind of items I’d like to get as well as zero waste housewarming gifts eco-conscious folks could give other people without being overtly pushy about an agenda their friends or family might not care about.

These gifts are not only great for people already on a zero waste journey, but a kind gift for someone who may not even have zero waste on their radar! The goal of these zero waste housewarming gifts – specifically the physical ones – are a gentle way to allow someone to create a greener, less single-use dependent habit in their new home.

Physical items

Kitchen linens: you can never go wrong with tea towels or napkins, especially when you’ve refused paper towels and now use cloth for just about everything. I think these colorful cotton napkins would be a great gift, if you’re one of those people – unlike me – who prefer color in their house. This Skoy eco-cleaning cloth is also a cool idea for people who haven’t quite transitioned away from paper towels and they’re 100% biodegradable.

Bulk snacks: disposable and simple, make up a pack of your favorite bulk snacks to stock the pantry during those first few wild days of moving. A little bit of something salty, a little bit of something sweet… you’re set!

Wax wraps: I’ve heard great things about Abeego wax wraps – or you can even make your own like I did with bulk beeswax and any cotton handkerchief you think the new homeowner would like!

Compost pail: obviously this depends on the person, as not everyone will be open to composting. If they are, one of the many adorable ceramic or stainless steel composting pails available online would be a great addition to any kitchen. It’s one of those items I would definitely use, but would not purchase for myself – making it a great housewarming gift!

Houseplants: even the blackest thumb can appreciate a simple houseplant to grace their new home. Difficult to kill succulents are a good choice, as are useful herbs, aloe, and the on-trend air plant. (Speaking of herbs, this is a USA-made herb growing kit housed in an upcycled wine bottle. I’m totally into this!)

Wooden dish scrubbers: not only are these useful gifts, but these wooden scrubbers are far more aesthetically pleasing than the neon non-biodegradable options we’re usually faced with. This scrubber is 100% compostable (but not vegan – most compostable bristles aren’t) and even comes with replaceable heads once your first is done!

Essential oil diffuser: I actually bought the pretty bamboo one pictured above for myself. It’s been great to have it running while we continue to air out our new house (it was vacant for at least 4 months, if not more). I’m not sure I believe all the highly-touted health benefits of diffusing essential oils all over your house, but the bamboo diffuser is discrete and perfect for making your house smell more like home.

Non-physical items

Help moving: perhaps the greatest zero waste housewarming gift of all would be to help pack, move, or unpack items in the new home. If you live nearby and have a truck to help haul bigger items, that’s also far better than any physical gift.

Gift card to restaurant: there is nothing worse than the dread that arises upon realizing – after a long day of moving/unpacking – you’ll have to cook dinner for yourself. Be the greatest pal ever and grab a gift card to a local restaurant and give your friends a break! (Bonus points if you can send it by email and avoid the actual card altogether!)

Passes to a local attraction: this is an especially good idea if your friend is moving to an entirely new area. Scope out what museums/zoos/theaters are around and grab your friend a pass to something that aligns with their interests. What better way to help welcome someone to their new home than by helping them explore the area around it?

Do you have any other ideas for zero waste housewarming gifts? What have you given or received that’s been low-waste and useful?

Zero waste housewarming gifts I wish I'd got - Green Indy Blog


Green Indy is a blog about zero waste, minimalism, and generally being less of an a**hole to our Earth (Indianapolis, specifically) by me, Polly Barks. I’m a writer, teacher, and a natural-born researcher/experimenter.


Kristin | The Grape Soda Club · October 13, 2017 at 6:43 am

Help moving and unpacking is always a great one, but we like bringing over a homecooked meal, too. I miss having real homecooked food when most of my kitchen is still packed up or hasn’t been cleaned yet! I love the idea of an e-gift card to a restaurant, too!

    Polly · October 15, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Homecooked meals are a great idea if you live close by to them! I’d certainly not say no to a few freezer meals!

Cat · October 16, 2017 at 11:36 am

I personally swear by the Skoy cloths so I wouldn’t mind getting a few more of those. I’ve also personally given plants, wine or homemade cookies. Can’t go wrong with those.

    Polly · October 18, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    I’m so glad to hear about the cloths. I’m definitely about to pull the trigger on some and I’m excited to try!

Celia · October 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm

A tea towel around a homemade food is always my go-to gift!

    Polly · October 18, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Yes! (Now if only I had more friends living near me to enjoy this!)

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