Want low-waste holiday gift ideas this season? There’s an app for that

Nov 27 2018, 6:46 pm

We’ve all looked around at the post-present aftermath on Christmas morning — mangled ribbons and bows scattered amongst shredded piles of shiny wrapping paper — and thought, “Wow, did I do that?”

Do you love the gift-giving tradition, but wish there were more planet-friendly ways to do it?

Enter the Merry Memory Maker app. Launched by Metro Vancouver, this online app is part of a region-wide goal to make holiday gift-giving easier and reduce waste this season. You simply go to the website and punch in your dollar range, and it gives you a ton of bright ideas for products or experiences that are both low-waste and eco-conscious — and you don’t even have to get out of your fuzzy pajamas!

From spending quality time together to crafting one-of-a-kind gifts, here’s a round-up of low-waste presents to shower your loved ones with this season.


Give the gift of your time

Think about it: this idea is gold. You could dream up something specific to offer as a gift, like taking down the Christmas lights, painting the deck, or babysitting for your brother so he and your sister-in-law can go on a much-needed date night. And if selfless chores don’t appeal, no worries! Visiting with family is always a great idea. Pop over for some tea, bake (or just eat) some cookies, and spend some real time catching up.

Make a coffee date

Tim Wright/Unsplash

Even if you’re getting the fancy stuff that comes topped with a milk-foam illustration of the Mona Lisa, a coffee date is a relatively inexpensive way to show someone you care. From big chains to mom-and-pop cafés, our region is home to a whole host of amazing spots. Meet up with a good friend you haven’t seen in ages and let the bonding begin.

Create a treasure hunt

This is a genius way to push a $5 gift from thoughtful to priceless. Design a series of clues that lead to a hidden gift and let the adventuring begin. If you make the clues creative or filled with inside jokes, it won’t even matter what’s waiting for the recipient at the end — they’ll be having too much fun along the way.


Rad Pozniakov/Unsplash

Buy a star

Does your loved one like diamonds? Why not give them one of the largest, most ostentatious diamonds around? Search for an observatory or space centre near you and look for their “adopt a star” program online. It’s a gift they can keep an eye on all year long and for decades to come.

Invest in long-lasting leather gloves

Not only are genuine leather products well-priced investment pieces you can hang onto for generations, but these style staples are also recyclable. The trick is to find a pair that’s made from vegetable-tanned leather (as opposed to chromium tanned) to reduce the impact on the environment.

Build a photo book

Jon Tyson/Unsplash

These days, people take more photos than ever — but they’re all buried in digital archives or locked up in internet clouds. Remember having printed photos of your backpacking trip to Greece in an album that you could whip out for quick reference? It sure beats scrolling through endless pictures on your phone before getting to the right one. Pro eco-tip: Look for acid-free paper and museum-quality binding for a gift that’ll last.

To keep that element of surprise going in a way that the environment will appreciate (we’re picturing a leafy green fist bump), try one of these wrap-wise ideas: newspaper, fabric, calendars, boxes, old maps, clay flower pots, or Mason jars are all fab alternatives to single-use wrapping paper. You can also skip the tape and wrap it up in festive yarn or twine instead.

Now you’ve got every tool you need to be your inner circle’s eco-friendly Santa. With so many unique experiences and gift ideas at your fingertips, there’s no need to empty your wallet just to stuff more things into a landfill. And that’s a wrap!

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