It’s coming up to Christmas and a zero waster will know there’s potentially a lot of waste about to be generated. According to Wildlife and Countryside link, around 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown away and not recycled in the UK this Christmas. 
So let’s imagine you want to put together a hamper for a friend just starting to think about going plastic free. And you’re on a tight budget.
This is one of the questions asked on our very busy Facebook Group.
Louisa wrote “Hello all. What things would you include in a hamper for someone just starting to think about going plastic free? It needs to be on a budget.”
The ideas are too good to keep to ourselves, so without further ado:
Plastic free takeout
If a friend is a foodie, reusable cutlery, chop sticks or metal straw that they can carry around is ideal.
Plastic free in the kitchen
A second hand or local charity shop is ideal for finding old containers. These containers can then be used for someone aspiring to a plastic free pantry. If you’re really strapped for cash, save your own old glass jars, clean them up and give them as gifts for reusing. To help your friend ditch the clingfilm habit, beeswax wraps are easy to make or reasonable to buy.
If you have a teen about to leave home or you know someone who hates food waste, Anna’s book is a must. It includes the history of food waste (plus what we can do about it) and recipes from chefs, campaigners and bloggers. Get your signed copy from our shop.
Most people use kitchen towel or paper towels around the home. After all, they’re handy. Why not wean your friend off the plastic wrapping and make a set of reusable cloths from old flannel sheets or cotton t-shirts. They’ll save money on future purchases too.
Plastic free beauty
A solid shampoo bar can be a thing of beauty and instead of liquid soap, which invariably comes in a plastic bottle, a solid soap bar will last for ages. If your friend is a make up fiend, help them ditch disposable items and give them some washable make up removal pads – you can crotchet these yourself if you’re so inclined. Here’s a tutorial.
Plastic free personal care
One of the simplest swaps is a plastic free toothbrush. Bamboo toothbrushes are all the rage and easy to find. You could also give a pack of toothpaste tabs or make your own homemade toothpaste and present in a small glass jar. Here are a couple of recipes for home made toothpaste. Think about handkerchiefs too – you can make these from squares of cotton and completely personalise them with embroidery. Likewise you could make homemade deodorant and put in a small container. You’ll find a recipe for home made deodorant here.
Plastic free lunch
Many of us go out at lunchtime and buy a ‘meal deal’ which includes a bottle of drink. Buying your friend a reusable bottle means they can say no to that daily plastic bottle and yes to refilling from a tap for free! Find your nearest refill here.
Knowledge is power, right? But it can take so long to scour the internet. Save your friend time by printing off some of the best articles on plastic free living, suited to their own particular lifestyle, and make a personalised book for them.
One of the first things we did was to stop using disposable plastic carrier bags. Why not rustle up a couple of morsbags from scrap fabric for your friend? If you’re not a sewer, then purchase a couple of reusable bags next time you go shopping.
The gift that keeps giving
One of the best ways to reduce plastic packaging on food is to grow your own! Why not give seeds or seedlings for a windowsill herb garden?
A partner in grime
Many people buy disposable scouring sponges for washing up. Loofah or coconut scrubs are an alternative that are very effective and can be composted after use.
A plastic free cuppa
Headlines have been awash with telling us that many teabags contain plastic. Find a tea egg (a stainless steel ball) and a bag of loose tea. If you can find an attractive tin in a charity shop, you have a lovely gift for a friend that can’t do without their daily cuppa.
What about you? I’m sure we’ve only scratched the surface here – what would you put in a plastic free hamper?
 The UK created 1,845,966 tonnes of plastic packaging waste in 2004 (DEFRA table 2) with 344,317 tonnes recovered or recycled – 18.65% (table 7). In 2014 (the most recent DEFRA statistics available – table 7.1) there were 2,200,000 tonnes, with 842,000 recovered or recycled – 37.9%). DEFRA 2004 figures showed 125,000 tonnes of UK plastic waste that Christmas. Annual plastic waste increased 19.2% 2004 – 2014. Assuming the same increase in Christmas waste, and factoring in recycling rates: 125,000/(100-18.65)= 1,536.57 x119.2=183,159.19/100 = 1,831.59 x(100-37.9) = 113,742 tonnes. Emperor penguins weigh between 50-100lb (Wikipedia). Taking 75lb as the average, and 2204.62lbs per tonne, this equates to 3,343,446 Emperor Penguins.