6 Waste Free Gifts for Kids

zero waste free gifts for kids
zero waste free gifts for kids made in BC Canada

Why do I prefer giving and receiving waste-free gifts for kids? If you just want to get to the suggestions, scroll on down to catch the easy-find headings for ideas for waste free kids gifts.

There can be a lot of waste involved in raising babies and young children.

One of the things that has made a big impact on me over the course of having a baby and parenting for the past eight years is the intense amount of waste created. Diapers, wipes, and single-serve food pouches fill up landfills at alarming rates. Don’t get me wrong, these saved us on many occasions. But there’s no denying the damage to the environment from the waste-forward culture of early childhood.

Gifts that keep on living in the landfill.

Then come the toys and clothes and unending supply of cheap plastic gizmos being handed to our littles to keep them “happy”. Most of which won’t last long enough to provide much of any fun. Even if they do last for more than an hour or two, the kind of play that comes out of media-based figurines and many flashy toys is far from creative or developmentally enriching.

Not only that, but beyond supporting the increase of waste to landfills, these types of gifts for kids are typically made overseas. Built from questionable materials, and not doing much to support the real people living and working in our own communities.

zero waste free gifts for kids made in BC Canada

So what are the alternatives to potentially toxic, environmentally damaging, wasteful, and imagination-stunting gifts for kids? Here are ideas for mindful and waste-free kids gifts in Canada.

6 Mindful & Waste-Free Gifts for Kids in Canada

As I am based on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, some of these ideas for kids gifts might be especially interesting for those of you also in BC, Canada. I also want to point out that this is not a sponsored post, and I have not been compensated by any of the businesses or websites I’m linking to. However, I am linking to two businesses that are my own, for complete clarity.

Adventure passes – Experience Gifts for Kids

One of the most recognized ways of waste-free gift giving has become the experience gift. This is a great idea for a kids’ gift as spending time together is often the very best thing you could do for them, anyways. Spending quality time with someone you love doing something fun together is a fabulous way to get to know each other better, forming stronger bonds. Even if you can’t go with them to redeem their gift pass, they can still enjoy it with a friend or another family member. This is a gift that won’t soon be forgotten on a shelf!

Here are a couple of ideas for passes you could pre-purchase as experience gifts for kids. (Links are to local Salt Spring Island, BC, and Vancouver Island businesses):
Swimming pool gift passes
WildPlay treetop adventure gift passes
Horseback riding lessons
– Night Away to stay at a vacation rental (I’m looking for an environmentally-friendly local Salt Spring Island vacation rental for families to link to here. Let me know if you have one for me to recommend, as I have no personal experiences to share.)

Free experiences make great kids gifts, too!

You absolutely do not have to spend money on an experience gift to make it valuable. A handmade coupon for a hike to a special spot, a day at their favourite beach, or a “yes day” can be free fun. A trip to a free outdoor water park or skating rink, and many other meaningful and fun experiences cost nothing. If you need help coming up with something, shoot me a message somewhere and I will help you brainstorm. 🙂

Local baked goods make sweet waste free gifts for kids

If your child is anything like mine, the way to her heart is through her taste buds. There have been multiple gift wish lists she’s written up that included specifics like “a whole bag of cookies”. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with giving a gift that can be eaten! It may not last very long, but it will be appreciated, it won’t take up space, and it won’t end up in the landfill!

baked goods and treats for mindful zero waste kids gifts in Salt Spring Island BC Canada

Here are a few of our favourite edible businesses we recommend for waste-free kids gifts you can eat:

A Memorable Waste Free Gift for Kids: Fun Photosessions

Does your child shine in front of the camera? Or love the idea of getting dressed up and followed around by someone eager to watch what they are doing? Maybe they would love a photo book of themselves and their puppy, family, or best buddy playing or doing what they love best. Of course, you could always make a story book of your own out of a session based on a costumed play theme. Many incredible gifts can be made out of carefully crafted images captured by a professional photographer!

waste free kids gifts for young children in BC, Canada zero waste mindful gifts
This photo by Hannah Spray Photography

If you’re on or around Salt Spring Island, BC or Southern Vancouver Island, get in touch. I absolutely relish the chance to work with children and humans of all ages, to create lasting visual memories of what’s meaningful to them. You can check out HannahSprayPhotography.com for some of my work as a photographer on Salt Spring Island, BC.

The Gift of Knowledge: Magazine Subscription Gifts for Kids

Receiving mail as a youngster is an exciting gift in itself, before you even open it. Turn the pages of a magazine with developmentally appropriate content that’s interesting to your little person. Now this is a fantastic way to encourage them to keep reading and learning.

My daughter’s current magazine subscription has been to Chickadee. It’s an interesting and fun magazine with information about animals and other cool stuff, craft ideas, recipes, jokes, and more. This magazine is put out by Owl Kids for children aged 6-9. They also create magazines for older and younger age ranges.

Natural Modeling Dough: A Creative Waste-free gift for kids

One of my biggest joys these days is seeing the little business that my daughter and I run, Dough n’ Play, take off to encourage more creativity and less waste in childhood. As a preschool teacher, play with dough has been a steadfast tool for my work with children over the past decade. (Note the intentional exclusion of a well-known brand name for modeling dough here.)

Now for sale in Canada, this childhood staple is a premium imagination-propelling gift that’s perfect for conscious consumers. It comes in the cutest waste-free containers that can be reused to store treasures or recycled. Aren’t they adorable?

dough n play natural non-toxic toys for kids zero waste gifts waste free made in BC Canada on Salt Spring Island
While this nontoxic modeling dough is my business, I want to be clear that credit for this photo goes to Myriam Outerbridge Photography, another incredible Salt Spring Island photographer.

You would be hard-pressed to find an Early Childhood centre that doesn’t make use of this simple material for play-based learning. The benefits of playing with dough are plentiful, and the possibilities endless. Honestly, I could go on all day. Fine motor skills, vocabulary development, creativity, and literacy. Numeracy, and attention-span. Scientific concepts, sensory and therapeutic values. These are some of the many benefits of modeling dough.

Less is more, and simple is brilliant.

The best part is that you don’t need anything else but yourself and the dough to create meaningful and enjoyable moments. Simply squish and squash the dough in all kinds of ways with your hands and body.

When you’re ready to add some extra to play with dough, there are many ways of doing this mindfully, without plastic playthings. These accessories could be as simple and accessible as collecting nature items or looting the kitchen for utensils and tools. Or maybe you want to create a loose parts collection of odds and ends. Locally handmade wooden toys and tools also make a fantastic complement to the waste-free and open-ended nature of all-natural modeling dough. It truly is a mindful gift for kids.

dough n play natural non-toxic toys for kids zero waste gifts waste free made in BC Canada on Salt Spring Island modeling dough
Myriam Outerbridge Photography took this photo, too.

Looking for a one-time gift to surprise a child you know? Or do you want to purchase a modeling dough gift subscription that keeps the dough flowing all year? We’ve put together different options for the waste-free kids gift-giving occasions you’re going to love.

Waste Free & Literacy Rich Kids Gift Idea: Online book subscription

Last but certainly not least, consider virtual books as another mindful gift. You can subscribe to a waste-free gift for kids that encourages reading and opens their world up to an abundance of literature. Online reading apps and websites have become popular with home learning and travelling communities. These apps offer a fantastic way for children to read new materials as much as they like, without having to carry around physical books.

One of the reading apps that my daughter loves is Epic. This virtual book app has an incredible library of books on a plethora of subjects and genres. It includes audiobooks and read-to-me books, along with children’s simple picture books, chaptered novels, and non-fiction works. We first discovered Epic on our family travel adventures. Now we love using it again as a resource for home learning.

salt spring island kids reading book literacy

Thank you for reading along, and your interest in mindful gift giving for kids. I truly believe that we can change the world by putting our money where our values are, and for me that means thoughtful and waste-free gifts for kids and adults that add more to the planet and each other than takes away.

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