Your comprehensive guide to sustainable holiday gift ideas

Gift giving season is fast approaching. Plastic-Free YYC and Reworks teamed up to offer our best gift ideas to help you be kind to the environment, your wallet, and the local economy this holiday season!


Look for gently used items or gifts in your home you never bothered to use. As the old adage goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” There is no shame in re-gifting if a loved one can put it to better use.

Try puzzles, novels or recipe books, children’s toys, jewelry, furniture, or kitchen gadgets.

Make your own

Giving homemade gifts is also about giving the attention and care you put into creating it. Plus, you won’t break the bank.

Harness your skills – knit, paint, or woodwork to impress. Print a favourite picture and frame it, create a playlist of meaningful songs, or repair a coveted broken item and wrap it back up. Or, bake a homemade loaf or cookies and include the handwritten recipe. Deliver gifts like a pro by wrapping in a decorated, recycled or repurposed container to add flair. If you’re feeling creative, make your own gift wrap from scrap fabric or newspaper with handcut potato prints.

Brainstorm good gift ideas to make yourself, like this baked good wrapped in a bow
Deliver homemade gifts in repurposed materials

Buy local

Buying local is a great way to support the economy, and you don’t need to travel far or pay for shipping costs.

  • Invest in a shared experience, like a massage or music lesson.
  • Check out the Zero Waste Directory, or Calgary Dollars for more ideas in the Calgary area.
  • Help promote businesses by sharing and tagging posts on social media.
  • Bag made of old seatbelts
  • Cookies made from spent grains
  • Glasses made of old beer bottles
  • Game made of old skateboard
  • Pump of soap with mason jar

All products available online at Reworks

Give “green” gifts

Give gifts that make it easy for the recipient to live a low-waste lifestyle. Think of sustainable items that you can use and reuse often, like beeswax food wraps, unpackaged locally made bar soap, or cloth produce bags. Items upcycled into new stuff or made from recycled materials are also a great option.

Recycled, or zero waste and more – Canada

Can’t find your gift in Calgary? Look for items and experiences available across Canada. Shop Local Canada is a great place to start looking!

  • Music from Canadian artists.
  • Memberships or donations in friend or family members name for a Canadian charity or club.
  • Canadian wine and beer (most liquor stores mark where items are from).
Wine made in Canada overlooking vineyard
Wine is produced in Canada from regions like the Okanagan and Niagara. Smaller producing areas include Vancouver Island, Quebec, and Nova Scotia.

Fair trade gifts – Global

  • Coffee, tea and chocolate don’t grow in Canada, so look for fair trade and shade-grown varieties. Many local coffee shops source fair trade – just ask!
  • Ask if foreign-made crafts or art are fair trade. Look for importers that specialize in women-operated collectives.
  • Spices and oils are lovely, but check if contents are pure and from reputable manufacturers.

We hope with these great gift ideas, you are ready to take on this holiday season!