Zero Waste Souvenirs

Zero Waste Souvenirs

Souvenirs have a bad rep for being tacky fridge magnets and ugly ornaments no one wants or needs. That doesn't have to be the case. Souvenirs can be beautiful, useful, and thoughtful, if you follow a few simple rules: only buy things that are useful, consumable, second-hand, or a local specialty (that's also useful or consumable!) Oh and plants.

Zero waste souvenirs are essentially just zero waste gifts, for us and other people. If you follow the same principles of choosing things that can be eaten, used, or experienced, you can't really go wrong. These are my go-to ideas when shopping for souvenirs to bring home with me after a trip somewhere.

Useful Souvenirs

Tote bags, kitchen towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, wooden spoons. Not particularly thrilling to buy or receive but they are undoubtedly useful - if you need them. These are things I loathe buying at home and wait until they are literally falling apart before replacing them. My new approach is to buy them on holiday to replace the ones at home that have seen better days. It's a nice reminder of where I've been and a thoughtful gift to pass on. I've received serving bowls and incense sticks from family members, and they've always been well received gifts that prove their usefulness.

Consumable Souvenirs

Anything you can eat or use up serves as a great souvenir. Wine, chocolate, pastries, teas, oils, spices and even soap, candles, or incense. Bring a few treats home to cook with, maybe replicate a dish you tried, or pass on to loved ones as a gift for house or pet sitting. We bought home pasties from Cornwall for my parents, and anise cookies back from Italy; purchased packaging-free from a local market. These are the kinds of souvenirs I find are the easiest to buy and the most well received. Tasty treats are welcomed by everyone whether it's marinaded olives, artisan chocolate, flavoured olive oil, or local beer and wine.

Zero Waste Souvenirs

Local Specialties

Locally made consumables make for great souvenirs. Bread, coffee, and sweet treats are the obvious choice but you could also opt for (useful) handmade items. Jam in pretty jars or sweets in beautiful tins, both of which can be reused when the contents have been eaten; art or hand crafted homewares are a lovely reminder of the places you've visited. Little luxuries (think scented candles or sugar scrubs), cooking ingredients (like spice rubs or blended teas), and homeware items (art, pottery, or rugs) are thoughtful gifts.

Second-hand Souvenirs

It might be rare to find an appropriate second-hand souvenir but it's worth trying, especially if you have something specific you need in mind for yourself or someone else. Even if you leave empty-handed, the memories of exploring foreign second-hand shops can be looked back on with fondness. I'm always keen to drop in to second-hand stores when I spot them, whether at home in the UK or abroad. I rarely pick anything up (a downfall of travelling with a backpack!) but browsing local thrift stores is always a pleasure.

House Plants

If you like plants or know someone who does, bring back a plant (or several!) It makes a wonderful souvenir that keeps on giving. I'm sure it surprises no one to learn I like to buy houseplants when I'm on holiday. I've picked them up from all over the UK from Kent to Cornwall. For me, they're the perfect souvenir; they're a lovely reminder of the places I've visited. It depends on the person (not everyone wants the responsibility of a plant) although it's a gift idea to keep in mind when considering souvenirs to bring home.

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