Zero Waste Ambassador Blog: Low Waste Gift Ideas During a Pandemic

Low Waste Gift Ideas during a Pandemic

By: Esha Babu, First year in Emory College, Natural Sciences major

The Holiday season normally serves as a time to reconnect and spend time with loved ones. My extended family and friends would often spend Winter Breaks escaping the bitter cold with my family in Florida. However, this COVID-19 pandemic has defied all expectations in unexpected ways. Although this time has been stressful and isolating for many of us, I hope we can still make the most of the holidays, even if it will be celebrated virtually. I recommend that you visit this link to learn more about the CDC’s regulations with regards to celebrating the holidays safely. 

While we may not be able to replicate previous holiday traditions with our families and friends, there are still many meaningful ways to show others you care about them. Rather than shipping gifts through large corporations such as Amazon, try considering a low- or zero-waste route instead. I hope that being more conscious about reducing waste and usage will help teach us to value the intentions behind our gestures more than the material gifts we receive. 

To further highlight this, I’ve put together a list of unique zero- or low- waste gift ideas for the holiday season:

  • Make a music playlist for your friend or family member! This gift is especially for the friend (like me) who loves listening to new music or podcasts. Take some time to compile some of your favorite songs into a playlist on a music or podcast app and send them the link! To make it even more meaningful, you can send them an email detailing why you chose each song in the playlist. I love this gift idea because it can really be applied to any form of media/entertainment you both appreciate- TV shows, books, movies, helpful resource guides, articles, social media posts, etc.
  • Write them a song or poem! Although this gift may not cost much, it is not every day that a song is written about/for you. This is one that shows how much you mean to someone in a truly unique way. 
  • Make a meaningful video for them! If you have many memories with a friend or family member, record a video talking to that person about some memories or inside jokes you have shared. If you can, maybe even go one step further and add in some pictures/clips of these memories. Simply talking about the cherished parts of your relationship can go a long way in showing you truly value this person.
  • Make a digital photo collage or scrapbook! Similar to the video idea, this gift is perfect to reminisce on memories you shared with each other. This is a great alternative to a physical collage or scrapbook and there are many sites to help you compile photos online. The possibilities with customizing this gift are endless!
  • Send them an eGift card! This probably goes without saying, but an eGift card is a gift anyone can appreciate.
  • Bonus: Attend a (virtual) event together! If some of your in-person holiday traditions are on hold, see if you can host them virtually. Some examples are watching a holiday movie through Netflix party or Disney +’s Group Watch feature, attending a fun workout/yoga class, baking holiday treats through video chat, or hosting a virtual video game tournament with a large group of people, to name a few.

    My friends and I held a virtual get-together to play Among Us!

While there are many more gift ideas that are low- or zero-waste, I wanted to show that can you can demonstrate gratitude for one another without having to ship physical objects. These ideas are also great if your given circumstances limit the amount of money you can spend on friends and family members. However, if you are able to spend money for gifts, this is my favorite gift guide that will come in handy year-long.

In the end, this time of year is really about showing our gratitude for one another. The ideas listed above are simply some suggestions to consider, but ultimately, do what makes the most sense for your given circumstances! I hope these ideas have helped inspire you to get a bit more inventive with celebrating the holidays!

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