Zero Waste Gift Ideas for Kids

zero waste gifts for kids

Spread the Sustainable Gospel!

Zero Waste Gifts For Kids | Despite what all of those toy commercials tell us, we can still have a magical holiday without contributing to the overwhelming plastic waste problem. In 2014, we generated 33 million tons of plastic. Yes, most kid toys are made using virgin plastic.

What I think is the saddest part of the holidays is we only associate a “good” Christmas morning when there are presents stacked to the ceiling. Abundance = joy. As parents, we have to break this cycle.

We have to start showing and teaching our children that “stuff” doesn’t equal happiness. I know it’s so much fun watching our little loves open gifts and smile from ear to ear, but think of the long term.

Related: What is Zero Waste?

There is a happy balance.

If we replace cheap, plastic abundance with meaningful gifts (that are even better for the planet), holiday memories will start replacing that “joy” instead of the toys that will lose their luster within an hour.

I’ve been apart of WAY too many family holiday get-togethers where I’ve witnessed the younger kids pouting that they didn’t get very much. Just completely ungrateful. It was disgusting.

I’m not saying that is the case for everyone because, good grief, I’d hope not, but this has been my life experience and will work VERY hard to teach a better approach.

Related: How Zero Waste Improved my Holiday Spirit

This simple list of Zero Waste Gifts for Kids is something I hope helps you this holiday season to create some wonderful memories for years to come. If you have any additional ideas you’d like to add, put them in the comments below!!

And let’s not forget about the gift wrapping, too! 

Related: Zero Waste Alternatives to Holiday Wrapping

Zero Waste Gift Ideas for Kids


Board Games

Bonus if you get them secondhand. I have already gotten 2 board games from the thrift store that I will be gifting my little guy on Christmas morning. He’s going to love Ants in the Pants.

What I love about board games is that they are fun and they promote togetherness. We just spend so much time on screens, apart from one another that I think it’s important to bring family time back and make it a priority. 


I think we all should read more, so to instill that in our children at a young age will set them up for literary success as they grow up. Again, bonus if you get them secondhand. 

Library Card

Since we are on the topic of books, what better gift than to get them their own library card? Besides having nearly any book they could ever imagine, libraries are wonderful for having other events.

My local library hosted a space camp-themed day where kids could learn about space, run through an astronaut training course, and make rocket ships out of recycled materials. It was a blast!

National Parks Passport

Go from national park to national park being sure to get a stamp in our passport for each visit. I have one with my son and we have a blast getting our stamps at the visitor centers. I had no idea that there were so many national parks and landmarks until I got this.

Movie Passes

These are great gifts especially when it’s cold outside. Who doesn’t love going to the movies?

Special Coupons

Create a special coupon book that gives your children options for “Dessert First”, or “Stay Up until 9”, or “Dinner of Your Choice”. You can customize them to your choosing.

Sustainable Toys

Support companies that prioritize minimizing their impact. There are several sustainable toy companies that make great toys for kids of all age groups. Some of my favorites are:

And a few more ideas…
  • Passes to a theme park
  • Homemade playdough
  • Chalk
  • Tickets to Live Shows
  • Buy the latest “fad” toy secondhand (Your Choice)
  • Coloring Books and Crayons
  • A Used Bike
  • A Summer Pool Pass
  • Secondhand Clothes from ThredUp
  • Naked Bath Bubbles from Lush
  • Bulk Candy
  • Fruit
  • A Used Musical Instrument (Maybe some earmuffs for you)
  • Their Own Zero Waste Kit
Related: My Zero Waste Kit
  • Riding Lessons
  • Cooking Classes – do it with your kids to make a special memory
  • Vintage toys from an Antique Store – I got Oliver a fire engine from an antique store that is probably one of his favorite toys
  • Bowling
  • A used tent to go camping  – check out: The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Camping
  • A water bottle – only if they don’t have one
  • Museum Tickets

With Oliver, my son, I keep gifts very minimum, and stick to the following rules:

  1. 1 gift he needs
  2. 1 gift he wants
  3. 1 gift for learning
  4. 1 gift to enjoy as a family

I want him to understand that the holidays go beyond getting things and are about a time to have fun and cherish the time we have with each other.

For more Christmas related posts, check out:

Related: 101 Zero Waste Gift Ideas
Related: 50 Zero Waste Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Happy Gifting!!

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