melbourne vegan

Jaclyn McCosker

2017 Conscious Christmas Gift Ideas: Vegan, minimalist & eco-friendly

2017 Conscious Christmas Gift Ideas: Vegan, minimalist & eco-friendly

It's December 11 and you're just now reading a list of gift ideas? I'm going to assume you need this list.

There's so much to love about Christmas, and the gift-giving is just one small part to consider. What really matters is the time we carve out of our year to come together and reflect on the people we love and the things we have to be grateful for. This makes it the perfect time for giving back to charity and being mindful of the ways our consumerism affects the lives of others.

However, giving each other physical gifts is still well-entrenched part of the Christmas tradition. And while many minimalists may try to opt-out of the tradition altogether because they find unwanted presents draining, gifting somebody something they will genuinely love and value is such a rewarding experience. Below are just some ideas for more thoughtful, sustainable gifts.

Zero Waste Gifts

For those who don't need any "thing"

For that eco-hearted person in your life, that values experiences over things. This is a list of ideas to create memories, not trash!

Animal sanctuary sponsorship

PigPig at Peanuts Funny Farm @jaclynmccosker

PigPig at Peanuts Funny Farm

Who doesn't love saving animals? It's not just for vegans, even meat eaters love a good story of a miracle survival against the odds. My sanctuaries of choice are Lefty's Place because Tamara does incredible advocacy work, and Peanuts Funny Farm because I know Tracey personally and can vouch for their family's efforts in educating children around compassion for animals.

Audible gift membership

Audible is a subscription website where for $15/mth you can receive one free audiobook and other titles at a flat-rate of $15 per book. A membership is a perfect zero-waste gift for people from all walks of life, as it just requires a smartphone to download the free Audible app. Audible offer gift cards starting from three-month subscriptions, which is the equivalent of buying three books for under $50.

To keep my list from being repetitive, I'll quickly mention you can also gift Spotify Premium. Spotify is free to access but for free adds and an unlimited ability to skip songs, Premium is around $12/mth. You can give the gift of a free month to a year here.

Concert tickets

Seriously, what's better? Tickets to a festival, concert or musical are ultimate gifts because they can be tailored perfectly to your giftee's interests and while always memorable experiences, live music is the first thing that gets cut when budgets are tight. You can check what's coming up in your recipients' region on Bandsintown or Ticketek.

DIY beauty products

DIY gifts are a popular eco option for so many reasons. We all have glass jars sitting around home just waiting to be repurposed, and beauty products don't have to be complicated. Often, we have the ingredients already, or if purchased new they're "normal" enough to be used up without being wasteful! A body scrub can be as simple as an oil of your choice, some sugar, and your scent of choice (lemon zest or an essential oil). Scent them nicely, package them with some lovely twine and a cute note, and you have yourself a thoughtful gift that everyone can use and won't result in unnecessary landfill. There are so many other options such as homemade lip balms, deodorants, toothpaste, dry shampoo, and Trash Is For Tosser's zero waste lotion linked above. (Full credit for her recipe to Lauren, you can follow her account for more gems.)


Time spent together is the best gift of all. My favourite idea of a birthday or Christmas gift is travel, and it's something I've always prioritised over physical gifts. And if you're worried about the emissions of flying, no worries! A long weekend road trip is one of the most special ways to create lifelong memories. Jump on, find a deal in a location near you, and book you and your loved one a small getaway - even if it's just that nice hotel downtown you've been meaning to try!

Home cooking

Along the lines with my DIY point, home cooking. And it doesn't technically have to be "cooked"! But what shows more thoughtfulness or care then time spent lovingly preparing something you know they'll love. Plus you get bonus points for knowing and respecting their dietary requirements! Brownies. Muesli. Fudge. Cashew cheese. Peanut butter cups. Pre-measured curries in a jar. Trail mix. Sauces. There are so many things you can whip up that can be served in glass containers that either your giftee keeps for reuse, or that can be returned to you! Make it an opportunity to explore your culinary talents and show people how amazing healthy plantbased alternatives are.

Oxfam Unwrapped

My gift cards + vegan chocolate from the Oxfam store @jaclynmccosker

My gift cards + vegan chocolate from the Oxfam store

Oxfam Unwrapped cards are great options for minimalist, low-waste charitable gifts because they're easily accessible and easy to ship. Your card is your whole gift! And it's one that's heart-warming for all involved. Each card provides a value equal to one of the life-changing services Oxfam offer in resource scarce regions. While famously offering animals as gifts, I strongly encourage opting for the vegan-friendly options because nothing more valuable than public health, so why not purchase a community a clean water drinking well?


Vouchers to businesses they already frequent

My suggestions are not the be-all and end-all of vouchers you can buy. Other suggestions include beauty salons for services they use, their favourite restaurant, nearby grocery stores or even vouchers to somewhere like Flight Centre for someone that travels a lot. Any gifts that shows you know them well and want to treat them to something you know they already like will always go down a treat.


Physical Gifts

For those people in your life you want to give something for keeps

Some people insist on buying you something nice, and they expect something in reciprocation. This list is for thoughtful, eco products that don't cost the Earth, but give your loved one something to unwrap and hold onto for longer than a meal.

Bokashi bin*

An apartment-friendly, bench-top contained composting system. Bokashi bins are designed to be fully enclosed to avoid any of the unpleasant smells or hygiene issues associated with composting. Over time, your food scraps break down. You can use a tap at the bottom of the Bokashi bin to use the juices on your house plants, and once the bin is completely full your compost can be buried in an established garden or transferred to a small compost pile in your garden, to be used in your top soil. A great gift for the type of person that's always trying to up their sustainability game. (Speaking from experience.) 

Coconut bowls*



Where sustainability meets foodie trends. I've been following Aussie brands Coconut Bowls for two years now, and thanks to Biome I've finally got my filthy mits on a set for my breakfasts. To save coconut shells from being burned as waste, this company are salvaging and up-cycling the discarded shell into bowls perfect for your vegan smoothie. Everything is completely natural, including the organic coconut oil lacquer, making them safe to eat from so light on the environment. Pictured to the right are two Coconut Bowls + accompanying coconut palm spoons, handcarved from reclaimed coconut palms.

iBark phone cases

iBark are the most sustainable phone cases I could find in my research, and as a bonus they're also beautiful. Made in Byron Bay from eco-certified Australian wood, bamboo, and corn starch plastics, the case is biodegradable. Once it's lived it's life, you remove the tape that binds the wood to the plastic to be decomposed in a standard household composting unit. The cases are only for iPhones, but they offer a gorgeous range with the ability to engrave your own text, making them amazing gifts for an affordable price.


While KeepCup's have firmly been entrenched in the sustainability scene for longer than I have been, the popularity of ABC's War on Waste saw an initial 690% spike in KeepCup sales, crashing their website and causing mass sell-outs at stockists. The revelation that disposable cups are non-recyclable has made KeepCup's now a non-negotiable daily necessity, and living without one would be a serious faux pas. A thoughtful Christmas gift would be to make sure everyone in your life has a beautiful cup they'll feel stylish using, so reusables don't have to seem like an ugly or expensive burden in anybody's life. An alternative brand is The Source's new reusable coffee cup for just $18.

Saheli Designs

Image from @sahelidesigns

Image from

Well, I'm not going to do a gift list without a little self-promo. Saheli Designs is my brain child, handmade accessories that came to life in a women's centre in rural India. Each was embroidered by a woman I personally employed as a means of providing a fair income, to elevate their position in the household and the broader community. The clutch on the right is all vegan, and was hand embroidered by Mamta Sharma, a mother of two. To celebrate the regular readers of my blog, I've added an exclusive coupon code "CHRISTMAS15" for 15% off any purchase.

Solar jar lantern*

A solar-powered glass jar lantern. If this isn't the perfect intersection of the things your hipster friend loves, what is? Perfect for a reading in your bedroom, a Christmas table setting, or a deck lighting at a party. It's a great gift for something someone can hold onto and cherish as it's eco, multi-purpose and frankly just really cute. At the time of writing, the solar jar is on sale for just $22.

Stainless steel straws*

Reusable straws are a great present! They're cute, they're trendy, they're incredibly sustainable and they're probably the most affordable gift item on this list. Coming in a range of colours and shapes, nobody can feel guilty about receiving this gift. They'll always look cute in a picture, are small and easily portable, suit everyone's lifestyles, and nobody can ever really have enough!

Stamped silver vintage spoon

Image from

Image from

Ya girl's favourite zero waste store The Source are selling unique vintage spoons hand stamped with beautiful messages like the one pictured. These make a perfect gift for anyone that values something unique or sustainable, and would especially suit a foodie or avid Instagrammer! And even better while you're in the store, you can grab some packaging-free vegan chocolate or coffee beans and make it a full gift for someone you love.

S'well Insulated Bottle*

Everyone needs a reusable water bottle. Everyone. And S'well are amazing for high quality bottles that keep water cold for 24 hours, even in extreme temperatures, and they come in a huge range of colours and designs for people of all walks of life. This means you can find something for everyone and be confident your gift will be used and appreciated.

Synergy Organic Cotton*

Synergy Organic Clothing sweatshirt dress

Synergy Organic Clothing sweatshirt dress

I'm only featuring two fashion labels in this gift lit, my own and Synergy. An environmentally and socially responsible label, Synergy use GOTS certified organic cotton and ensure sustainability and transparency along their Nepal-based production line. Pictured, I'm wearing the black sweatshirt dress is a size medium, and I have it on record that my boyfriend said it's now his favourite piece of clothing I own. Silky smooth, so comfy, able to be dressed up and down, and perfect even on a 33 degree Queensland summer day. Next in my line of fire are the Athleisure leggings and the Flax Circle Top. They do have applicable shipping fees for Australia, but that can be overcome when first-time shoppers get 15% off their first order. Read more about their principles here.

Windowsill garden*

UrbanGreen Microgreens Windowsill Kit is an amazing gift, and I wouldn't be too surprised if you got one from me. Suitable for anyone with a permanent address, it's a beautiful, thoughtful, sustainable addition to any home. You can't have enough houseplants! The kit comes complete with everything you need to grow broccoli, radish and rocket microgreens for only $50, and can brighten a home for such a long time.

Above are just a sample of low waste, sustainable and ethically source gift ideas. The list could not be further from exhaustive, and there are amazing DIY ideas and social enterprises to support. What's on your minimalist wish list for 2017?

If you're interested in gifting something else somebody can wear, read my ethical undies guide here.

Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk. Some items may have been gifted to me for free.
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