Zero Waste Gifts for Kids (86 Ideas That Parents Will Also Like!)

Are you considering zero waste gifts for kids who seemed to have it all?

You know the type. Those children that have more clothes and toys than they possibly need.

Of course, you still want to give them a gift they can open on their birthday, Christmas, or any special day. 

But maybe their family (or your family?) is getting sick of all the clutter at home and wants something that would reduce the waste.

If you’re looking for zero-waste gifts for babies, younger kids, or even parents, then this article is for you.

I’ve researched and collected information from various resources, particularly from online parenting groups, and came up with these pretty awesome zero waste gift ideas.

I’ve grouped them into different categories so it’ll be easier for you to look and choose which gift seems more appealing to your audience.

I’ve also included some quick tips on giving zero waste gifts to kids.

But first, let’s discuss first what exactly is zero waste and what makes something a zero-waste gift?

What Does Zero Waste Mean?

The US Environmental Protection Agency defines zero waste as “The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

Simply put, it aligns with the philosophy of zero waste living, which consists of:

  • Limiting consumption levels
  • Recycling/ reusing items as much as possible
  • Saying no to things that can harm any living things and the environment

Qualities of a Zero Waste Gifts for Kids

Its meaning tends to be subjective, based on what I’ve researched so far. It depends on how the giver sees it as a zero waste gift or useful the item is for the gift receiver..

But in general, a zero-waste gift should have one or more of the following qualities:

  • Consumable, won’t leave any waste to be thrown away
  • Can be used for a long time
  • Can be reused in a variety of ways
  • Eco-friendly 

So if you’re looking for zero waste gifts for babies, toddlers, or kids in general, think of items that they can immediately consume.

Or things that they can use for a long time or in various ways. Items that are also biodegradable or compostable are ideal to have.

It should also go without saying that it should be things that people want or need.

Giving them a sustainable item that they don’t have a need for or that they don’t want to use is far from a zero-waste gift.

Now let’s go to the meat of this article – the zero waste gift ideas for younger kids (and even parents!).

Zero Waste Gifts for Kids (86 Ideas)

Books

It’s always a good idea to give anyone a book. 

And don’t worry if your kids are not interested in it yet. 

You can just read aloud to them in a very funny way. That’s a sure way to catch their interest and get them interested in stories and books.

Here are some zero waste book gift ideas:

  • Board books
  • Used books on environmentalism
  • Classic kids books 
  • Series books
  • Activity books
  • Indestructible books

Experience Gifts

These are zero-waste gifts for kids where you spend most of your time (and some money), bonding with them!

It could be as simple as watching a movie with them or going on a hot air balloon ride! 

Check out some zero waste experience gifts for kids below:

  • Movie with a favorite snack
  • A day trip to the beach or harbor
  • Dine out at their favorite restaurant
  • Ice cream shop visit
  • Nature walk
  • Rock climbing (applicable already to 4 years old!)
  • A visit to a petting farm
  • Skiing
  • Riding/ feeding horses
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • DIY home activities – create slime, teach them how to cartwheel, make ice cream, etc.

Food

A way to someone’s heart is through the stomach, no matter how small the stomach is! 

Brainstorm some of your kids’ favorite snacks, desserts, and food in general, and start prepping them in your kitchen.

Here are some zero waste food ideas for kids:

  • Cake
  • Ice cream
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate
  • Cupcakes
  • Candies
  • Cookies
  • Doughnuts
  • Fruit basket – if they love fruits!

Memberships

These can be a little bit pricey but so worth it as zero waste gifts for kids.

Your kids will not only be bonding with you and making memories, but they will also learn from these zero waste membership gifts too!

  • Theme park
  • Zoo
  • Indoor playground
  • Baby or Toddler developmental program
  • Trampoline park
  • Children’s museum
  • Art Museum
  • Science Museum
  • State parks
  • National parks
  • Library

Classes

If memberships or annual passes are a little too much, then just go for individual classes. 

Check out some zero waste classes gifts for kids:

  • Swimming 
  • Skating 
  • Rollerblading 
  • Ballet
  • Baking
  • Sports
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Robotics 
  • Dancing
  • Music

Non-food items

These are practical, useful consumables and non-consumable gifts that the whole family can benefit from. 

It might be fun and educational for the kid while providing parents some savings or rest at the same time.

Or it’s just purely useful and functional.

Here are some ideas for zero waste non-food gifts for kids:

  • Piggy bank with some coins
  • Art supplies including sidewalk chalks
  • Painting or sketch of the whole family
  • Clothes that can grow with your child like petit pli
  • Blanket – can also be used as a nursing cover, as a picnic blanket, seat cover, etc.
  • Wet bags – can also be used for swimming, packing shoes or separating dirty clothes in suitcases
  • Eco-friendly diaper bag – can be used as a regular bag
  • Convex car mirror 
  • Bath products
  • Bamboo toothbrush set
  • Cutlery set
  • Mattress sheets
  • Pillowcases
  • Wooden toys
  • Tripp Trapp high chair

Subscriptions

Any entertaining subscriptions that you know the kids will enjoy is always worth it. 

You can choose to gift them the following zero waste subscription items:

Vouchers/ Digital Gifts

If you’d like the parents to have the freedom of choosing a gift for their child, then just get them some vouchers or gift cards to their favorite stores or services! 

Here are some zero-waste voucher/ digital gift ideas that the whole family might like:

Services

Let’s not forget the parents, especially if they have a baby and/or toddlers.

Moms and dads with younger tots actually need more pampering and gift-giving. As that would give them strength and save their sanity, making them ever present to take care of their kids.

Here are some zero waste service gift ideas you can provide to sleep-deprived and overwhelmed new parents:

  • Babysitting
  • House cleaning services
  • Do chores and/or errand services, like grocery shopping, fixing the toilet, etc.
  • Professional organizer
  • Drop off meals/ Freezer meals
  • Healthy snacks for a breastfeeding mama
  • Massage
  • Yard Service
  • Date night out
  • Pet care
  • Manicure/ Pedicure
  • Oil change
  • Car wash

Buying Guide on Zero Waste Gifts for Kids 

Ask yourself these questions before deciding on a zero-waste gift:

  • Is it a fun/ interesting/ useful gift?

It can be the best zero waste gift in the world but if it’s not relatable to the child or to their parents, then it’s just a waste. 

So make sure to consider something that the kids and/or the parents would appreciate.

  • Can it be used for a long time?

Some baby or toddler gifts, like clothes, baby food makers, etc., can only last for a few months and would end up being discarded or just wasting away in a shelf or cabinet.

So consider items that are long-lasting and can grow with the kid or family.

  • Is it reusable?

If you’ve gifted a physical object and it’s already been used for its intended purpose, can it still be used in a different way? 

For eg., burp cloths are well, for burping babies. Or for wiping spit-ups and vomit. 

But once the kids are all grown, they can still be used as blankets for your kid’s dolls, rags, quilts, travel napkins, dog towels, etc.

  • Is it easy to dispose of?

Is it biodegradable? Is it friendly to the environment? Does it use less resources upon disposal?

FAQ on Zero Waste Gifts for Kids 

How do you wrap presents with zero waste?

Instead of buying new gift wrappers, you can use newspapers, old magazines, used packaging that you can decorate, grocery paper bags, or a decent-looking cloth with a ribbon. (They can use the cloth for cleaning.)

What do you give kids who don’t need toys?

You can give them “experience” gifts, memberships to classes or playgrounds, swimming classes, books, etc.

How do you ask for zero waste gifts?

You can be subtle about it by including a short note on your wedding/ baby shower/ holiday cards. 

Try casually talking about how you like the idea of zero-waste gifts over dinner.
 
Or be direct and just send in the family chat that you’d prefer zero-waste gifts for your kids.

How do you teach kids about zero waste?

Make them watch that turtle that was tangled with some plastic.

Kidding aside, read to them books about the environment and how to take care of it.
 
Go on nature trips and explain to them the importance of trees, the ocean, the sky, etc, and how they’re getting polluted and how to avoid adding more to that pollution.

You can also watch shows together that discuss recycling, taking care of nature, and such.

Helpful Tips on Zero Waste Gifts for Kids 

  • Always include the receipt

What’s useful or zero waste for you might not feel that way for the gift receiver. 

So always include the receipt if you’re giving a physical gift, so they can return it, instead of it being wasted.

  • Stick to specifically requested items

If it’s for a baby or wedding registry and the items are clearly specified, then don’t give them something else!

Respect their decision by getting them what they really need or want, so they would be more likely to put that into use.

  • Know your audience

Think carefully about what you’re getting them. Consider their personalities, their finances (if you know them personally), their available space, etc.

For eg., you might think that a cloth diaper is a good idea, especially if the parents are eco-conscious. 

But they might opt for a disposable diaper, as it’s much more convenient to use one.

  • Ask them

Be straightforward and just ask them what they want. 

It would make things so much easier plus, you know your gift is really needed or wanted.

Takeaway on Zero Waste Gifts for Kids 

Kids would mostly enjoy “experience” gifts, as these give them the opportunity to connect with you. Time spent bonding with them, laughing, and connecting with them would trump any physical gift that you can give them.

And that’s the best gift you can give your children – a happy, physically and mindfully present parent.