Plastic Free Gifts

Written by Sophie Leeming

Looking for plastic free gifts? There’s no time like the present.

With Christmas seemingly always around the corner and a continuous list of birthdays, weddings, and ‘Treat Tuesdays’ on the go, there’s no better time to think about eco-gifting and how our buying habits impact the planet. But, if you’re struggling to know where to start, luckily, we’ve done the leg work for you with our starter guide to plastic free gifts. And before you say anything. Yes, ‘Treat Tuesdays’ are absolutely a thing.

What is Eco-Friendly Gifting?

Without even thinking about sustainability, buying the right present for the right person is, well, a gift. So, if you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘it’s the thought that counts’ after handing over one of your ‘treats’, the same mantra applies to eco-friendly gifting. It can include anything from buying 100% plastic free gifts to using recyclable wrapping paper. Simply by keeping the environment and your carbon footprint in mind, you’ll be doing your bit.

Plastic Free Gifts for Eco Loving Friends and Family

Throughout Christmas, it is estimated that UK residents send around 114,000 tonnes of plastic to landfill. Not festive music to anyone’s ears. But, with plenty of sustainably safe brands appearing every single day, choosing a plastic free gift for your eco-friendly friend is easier than you might think. So, just in case you find yourself looking at your gift list wondering, ‘if I write the ideas in green pen, does that count?’, help is at hand. Let us present to you the presents. Or, in other words, a couple of eco-conscious and plastic free gift ideas for the greenies in our lives.

Share an Experience

Gifting an experience is a plastic free gift that can pack a real punch. Especially if that experience is a round of boxing classes.

Experiences replace long-lasting plastic with long-lasting memories. And there are plenty of e-vouchers to choose from, too, with anything from weekends away to gourmet meals, and pet psychology courses. E-gifting is both thoughtful and convenient. Perfect for sustainably-minded pals.

Think carefully about those plus-one invites though – just in case tobogganing in the Swiss Alps isn’t your thing. We won’t be making that mistake again.

Homemade Plastic Free Gifts

Handmade sweets, freshly baked cakes, bath salts. There’s no end to the amount of plastic free gifts that can be made at home. You could even make a batch of our easy zero-waste cocktails. Thankfully, most DIY presents don’t require a lot of artistic ability. And if the creation process goes terribly wrong, there are plenty of tutorial videos online to help you turn out something presentable. It’s the thought that counts, remember.

Choose the Right Materials

Plastic free gifts can be made from eco-friendly, recycled, or biodegradable materials. Over time, these materials break down naturally, and therein lies the beauty. They leave little to no trace at all. A lot like the approach we all take to midnight snacking.

Natural textiles are a perfect example of green goods, so be on the hunt for gifts made from cotton, wool, bamboo, hemp, linen, and cashmere if you’re feeling fancy. Alternatively, look for presents made from recycled materials such as paper, wood, glass, or metal. These are the kind of gifts that just keep giving again, and again, and again, and again. You get the gist.

Buy Second-Hand Plastic Free Gifts

We should probably set a few ground rules on this one. A used toothbrush from the lost and found box? No, no, no. Preloved vintage jewellery? Yes, yes, yes.

Between books, clothing, and antiques (if you have an eye for hidden gems) there’s a lot to love about buying second-hand gifts. Not only are you transforming another person’s trash into someone else’s treasure, but you’re also buying a piece of history – part of a stranger’s story and keeping it alive. And that’s so much more beautiful than a plastic-laden package.

The Great Outdoors

We all know somebody who just can’t get enough of the outdoors. And what is the one gift that will always bring them a ray of sunshine? More reasons to go outdoors. Although, it could bring them a flash of rain too. But we won’t think about that.

A membership to the National Trust, RHS, or English Heritage gives eco-friends the possibility to explore the world around them as much or as little as they choose. And the great thing about this present is that it won’t just make their day once, it will make plenty more throughout the year. Perhaps on the Heysham Coast, or at Wellington Monument in Somerset, maybe even in the gardens of Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire. The list is endless.

Batteries Not Included

Wander down the children’s toy aisle, and a lot of the time, you’ll feel as though we live on planet plastic. Which perhaps is true at the moment. But thankfully, more and more wooden toys are finding their way to the shelves.

Yes, it’s great when kids can play outside, but on rainy days, wooden toys can help us to bring nature into our homes and into our children’s hands too. By swapping one plastic gift for a wooden alternative, we could cut back on the 28% of plastic toys discarded every year. And no need to remember batteries with these. Win-win!

An Evening With Attenborough

Although our planet-saving hero Sir David Attenborough has held audience talks in the past, there are none in the sustainable pipeline just yet. Instead, we can offer the next best thing, a night in with his book, ‘A life on our planet’, where he shares a lifetime of experience and natural world knowledge. It’s even printed on certified paper, using AZO-free inks with zero plastic packaging. Classic Sir David.

Clean Conscience

Ok, so this one might not be on many people’s lists for Father Christmas. But, as far as green gifts go, a plastic free cleaning hamper is a great way to gift some sparkle without messing up the planet. If you’re part of our milkround already, you could add our Seep Cleaning bundle to your order to get you started. Environmentally friendly and chemical-free, it’s a present so useful it will be polished off in no time.

Sock It To Waste

Let’s be honest, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a pair of socks. WWF’s ‘Socks Save Species’ collection is, as it says in the product description, ‘sustainable to the very last stitch.’ Sounds good to us! All made from GOTS-certified cotton and packaged in a cardboard box, you can choose from giant pandas, snow leopards and Borneo orangutans. A gift that can knock people’s socks off. Literally.

Beyond the Gifts, Pick Your Packaging Well

You’ve got your green gifts ready. You know your bamboo fabric from your cashmere. You’re riding a plastic free, pleased-as-punch wave. There’s just one more job on the to-do list – the wrapping.

Over the Christmas period, the UK throws away an estimated 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year. That is enough to wrap around the entire planet’s circumference more than nine times and one heck of a game of pass the parcel.

But you might be thinking, we’re all good – it’s paper, it even says it in the name, surely that means it can be recycled, right? Well, it turns out this isn’t always the case, and our wrapping paper go-to, could be telling a little packaging porky.

The Recycling Association points out that “not all wrapping paper is paper” but can be plastic based instead. Add in the foil, glitter, and extra sparkle, and you’ll soon find that not much of what you’ve wrapped your gifts in can be recycled. So, if you’re looking for some plastic free alternatives to wrap your plastic free gifts, we’ve got you covered.

From tips on recycling to the Japanese art of Furoshiki, here are a few ways to wrap presents the eco-friendly way.

Scrunch It Up

If you are using wrapping paper, pick a roll that’s made from sustainable materials. You can always look out for the FSC-certified marker as a guide. Chances are that if you’ve bought recyclable wrapping paper, to begin with, it can be recycled again once the plastic free gift has been unveiled. To double-check, though, scrunch up a tiny amount into a ball. If it stays scrunched, you’re good to go green.

Reuse and Recycle

It’s obvious from our milkround that we’re big fans of reusing and recycling as much as we can get our hands on. So, if you’re feeling crafty, grab your scissors and set your sights on the pile of old magazines, newspapers, and comic books sitting under the coffee table. Right under our noses are potential ribbons, bows, gift wraps – even snowflakes in a throwback to our primary school days. They can be bright, colourful, and every single one will be unique. As the saying goes, ‘yesterday’s news, tomorrow’s gift wrap.’

Ditch the Sellotape

Nothing says single-use plastic than a roll of Sellotape. It could even be considered zero-use plastic if the tape ends up sticking to itself. Or your hand. Or your pet. Or anything that isn’t the intended target. When attached to wrapping paper, it can cause a sticky situation recycling-wise. You could have the most recycling-friendly paper in the world, but it will still end up in a landfill if sneaky Sellotape is attached.  So, for more than a one-stick-wonder, try using ribbon, string, or cord to wrap your plastic free gifts.


To avoid using wrapping paper, Sellotape, and ribbons on your plastic free gifts, take a peek at Furoshiki. This traditional Japanese way of wrapping gifts uses colourful fabrics or offcuts, meaning the material can be used multiple times. It looks impressive, is affordable and is great for any origami fans already. It’s also pretty relaxing to watch too.

Learn More About Green Giving and Plastic Free Gifts

Sending 100% plastic free gifts isn’t easy, especially with little ‘uns eyeing up the latest toy trends. But we know that even the smallest changes to our shopping habits are a step in the right direction. In fact, we see it every day as part of our eco-friendly milkround.

So, if you like the sound of The Full Monty – stripping back plastic, that is, not the other one – there are plenty of ways to cut down how much we use. For green living learners, check out WWF’s, Ten tips to reduce your plastic waste. Or take a look at our very own no-fuss guide to recycling and our single-use plastic 101. Because when it comes to putting our planet first, there’s no time like the present. 

Join Our Milkround

Your local milkie may not have a big white beard or a belly full of biscuits, but they work just as hard to make your Christmas special! Get started now by signing up, placing at least one repeat order and choosing your delivery days! We drop our range of deliciously fresh groceries and household essentials on your doorstep up to three times a week. Whether you’re relying on our coffee subscription to keep you warm on the cold winter mornings or need a veg delivery just in time for the big day, we make every delivery day feel like Christmas.

Share the love...