2020 More Thought, Less Waste Gift Guide (5)

There are a lot of potential minimum-waste gifts that can brighten the recipient’s day and be used around the house or garden. Keep reading to check them out, and don’t forget to drop me a line if there are other products you think should be included.


I love the idea behind Seedball: native wildflower seeds are wrapped up in a bit of clay, chilli powder is used to keep the insects away, and compost to give the seeds a head start. They come packaged in a lovely tin that is perfect for a stocking or buy one of the sets to give as a main present. Simply sow the seeds on the ground or stick a few balls in a pot to enjoy flowers throughout the year.

You can also package up seeds from your own garden; Burgon and Ball do seed envelopes, but you can also save a few pounds and just pop them into your own envelope with a few details on the back about what they are and the date collected.

One of my favourite go-to gifts for office workers (and those who are now working from home) is a mug with a potted plant popped inside. Mugs can often be found for a pound or less at charity shops, and a small succulent or cactus is a low-maintenance addition that is small enough not to take up too much room on a desk. Bonus: plants have been scientifically proven to help inspire creativity.

This next gift suggestion is a bit unusual but bear with me: a compost bin. If your recipient’s garden has the space and it’s something they’ve shown an interest in but haven’t gotten around to getting yet themselves, a basic Dalek-style compost bin could be the solution. Bow or ribbon optional.

Still looking for something green? A voucher to a local garden centre, box of spring bulbs, or houseplant may be just the ticket.


Gifts for the garden are the type that keep giving: bee houses*, bat housesbird feeders, and nest boxes help provide wildlife habitat and give the recipient something to watch out for during the year. Bonus points: help them install it! 

There’s also adopting an animal. Not for real of course (dogs, cats, and guinea pigs are for life, not just Christmas), but through a charity such as the Wildlife Trusts. Sealspuffins, and red squirrels are all up for grabs, and most wildlife charities will offer something similar.


I was introduced to Weaver Green’s products a few years ago and absolutely love that they have managed to turn recycled plastic bottles into stunning and stylish rugscushionsblankets, and handbags. The colours and designs are easy on the eyes, and despite being made from plastic the rugs are soft under foot. I can also vouch that the rugs clean up easy so they’re ideal in a kitchen or bathroom, and while I haven’t tried them outside, they are advertised as being versatile.


I debated about whether to include this in the plastic-free section but it grew so long that I thought it deserved its own place on the list, especially as bath sets tend to be a popular Christmas gift (in the UK at least). Check out my bathroom (here, here, and here) to see some of the products that can be replaced with plastic-free versions, and here are a few shops to get you started on standard bathroom lotions and potions.

    • Friendly Soap: This has come highly recommended by readers of the Off the Ground blog, and, based on their website, their products seem to be the ultimate in free from (vegan, cruelty free, and free from various chemicals that can cause skin irritation). Their packaging is recyclable too.
    • Funky Soap: I have a friend to thank for making me aware of the Funky Soap Shop, a London-based company that produces various lotions and potions in mostly plastic-free and refillable containers. Their olive oil and moringa moisturiser has become a fast favourite, and I love that they offer an eco-checkout option: the packaging is all recyclable.
    • Herbfarmacy: This homegrown company make an incredible collection of products that are organic, vegan, and cruelty free. I’m a fan of their mallow beauty balm, but everything I’ve tried from them has been lovely (bonus: you end up smelling like a summer meadow).
    • The Natural Spa: The shop Just because … you love it! in Chippenham introduced me to this Devon-based company who do a range of great smelling shampoo and conditioner bars.
    • A High Street staple in the UK, most of Lush’s products are in their distinctive black pots that can be returned to the shop for recycling. They also carry a selection of “naked” (i.e. packaging-free products) as well as offer knot wraps: scarf gift wrapping. And gift cards are also available if you can’t decide what your recipient will want (or what scents they can tolerate).

In past years, I’ve including toilet paper in the gift guide almost as a joke. This year, empty shelves showed it’s no laughing matter.

We’ve been customers of Who Gives a Crap for several years and have been very happy with their service. They produce a range of forest-friendly toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels, and it’s a simple way to cut down on plastic while also supporting a company that’s trying to improve the world one loo at a time.

One of the most eye-opening books I’ve ever read was Rose George’s The Big Necessity. Quite simply it’s a book about toilets … and how nearly half of the world doesn’t have proper sanitation. The health and social problems this causes cannot be understated, which is why Who Gives a Crap and their promise to use half their profits build loos in developing countries caught my eye. As an extra bit of reusability, each roll comes wrapped in brightly coloured paper that can be used to wrap gifts (provided your recipient doesn’t mind a bit of WGAC branding).

I received quite an education about proper bee houses on Twitter; make sure to check out guidelines before purchasing because many commercially available houses are not actually good for bees.

Where to shop: How to avoid Christmas Buying Panic by supporting local or independent retailers offline and on.

Wrapping it all up: Suggestions for how to cut back on wrapping paper waste (and don’t forget the scrunch test!).

Be a PALL: Help friends and family plastic a lot less.

For who they are … or want to be: Personality-based gifts for adults and children.

Around the house: Practical gifts that never go out of style.

Bits and bobs: A final collection of everything that doesn’t fit into one of these other categories.

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