Sustainable Kids’ Gifts: 16 Non-Plastic Alternatives (Consumables)

What do we often give our kids? Too many unnecessary plastic toys.

We love to give our son stuff for crafting. Consumables rather than more stuff for the shelves:

  • Crayons
  • Clay
  • Beads
  • etc. (lots of ideas below)

It’s a great way to spark creativity!

Everyone wins. Even the environment!

(Over 70% of toys are estimated to end up in landfills or the ocean!)

Here are some ideas most kids will love:

17 Non-Plastic Gift Ideas for Kids

1) Paint and Crayons

We LOVE to fill the kitchen table with paper, cardboard, paint, markers, etc.

These are great weekend activities!

But having this crafting gear easily accessible encourages on-the-go creativity.

  • Water-based paint or paint-markers
  • Cardboard
  • Colored Markers
  • Wax Crayons
  • Ribbon
  • Glue
  • Etc.

2) Beads! (Boys Love Them Too When Motivated)

Beads are great too.

Many of us think they’re only for girls, but that’s not true.

To be sustainable, you can reuse old jewelry from your older kids or family members. Repackage them so they look kid-gift worthy 😉

Thrift stores also have really interesting and unusual:

  • Wooden or metal beads
  • Buttons
  • Charms and pendants

You can probably also give kids over eight years a pair of kids’ jewelry pliers, crimp beads, and jewelry wire.

Kids can make jewelry, treasure, and different engineering projects like machines and robots.

3) Playdough

Playdough is great for getting little imaginations going!

And developing fine motor skills (the small muscle movements in our hands and fingers).

Playdough can be made into anything from pizza to animals.

You can give interesting playdough tools:

  • chopsticks
  • scrubbing brush
  • bottle cap
  • small baking sieve

Playdough activities are a simple way of practicing counting, shapes, and cutting.

4) Wooden Toys

Wooden toys are far better for the environment. Being made from wood means that they are biodegradable.

Some of our favorite brands are:

  • Hape
  • Lovevery
  • Melissa and Doug

Pro-Dad Tip: Wooden toys are also more durable than plastic toys – they will last much longer.

And can be passed down to younger siblings (ka-ching!).


5) Preloved Toys & Games

But, buying new wooden toys can be pricey.

And, when we buy cheaper plastic toys, they can become more “stuff”.

There’s nothing wrong with regifting a gently used, preloved toy.

In fact, it’s becoming more popular as people try to choose gifts more sustainably.

Take a look at your local thrift stores and online second-hand stores.

Some towns even have “Buy Nothing” groups where members trade and swap. Search for “Buy Nothing Project” on your search engine to see if a group is in your area.

If not, start one!

6) Experiences

This is probably the best non-consumable gift you can give kids.

Memories last a lifetime!

Experiences don’t have to be expensive – a trip to the ice cream store is great!

7) Busy Bag

This one is for toddlers.

You might have heard of a busy book or a busy board.

But let me present to you “The Busy Bag”!

When our kid turned one, a friend gave him a busy bag – a simple pencil bag filled with goodies to fiddle with.

Most of the items were second-hand or simple reusable objects, like:

  • Mini scrubbing brush
  • Wooden peg
  • Folding hair brush
  • Bamboo compact mirror
  • Bamboo toothbrush
  • Lock and large key

It fits easily into any diaper bag.

Pro-Dad Tip: This is perfect for a small activity to keep your kid busy on car trips.

8) Wooden Play Kitchen

This is an investment piece – but it doesn’t have been bought brand new.

You can even make it yourself.

If you can handle some mess – why not even give your kid a mud kitchen?

This one is for outdoor muddy play – rocks, sticks, and mud pies!

9) Mini Garden

There are quite a lot of options for a mini-garden.

  • Herbs
  • Vegetables like carrots or tomatoes
  • Flowers
  • Succulents

It’s also really fun to paint and decorate the mini-garden box or crate!

10) Clay

Clay has many of the same educational benefits as playdough.

But, clay is more about design than it is about play.

So it’s perfect for older kids who want to design a beautiful ornament or design a practical object.

You can buy air-drying clay or oven-bake clay.

11) Scavenger Hunt Activity

These can be homemade or store-bought.

This is also a scalable gift idea.

From small, where kids individually collect items with a “bingo-like” card. Good for indoor or outdoor play.

Melissa and Doug make a really cool pack called “Let’s Explore”!

To BIG – like a well-planned Amazing Race game! (This might be a combo kid’s party and gift idea).

12) Second-Hand books

We love buying second-hand books because we can give a large bundle of books!

When we give books as gifts, we like to follow a “get one, give one” principle.

13) Sustainably Sourced Clothing

Fast fashion is killing our planet. And the industry doesn’t treat workers well.

“Slow” clothing is often more expensive.

But it will usually last longer, is ethically made, and won’t damage the environment (like synthetic clothes do).

Here are some excellent quality brands:

  • Crann Organic
  • Pact
  • Ten Little
  • Lucy Lue Organics

14) Buy Local

Whenever possible, buy local.

This supports your local economy – from the craftsmen and women to the shop assistants.

And the families behind these people.

15) KiwiCo Science Experiments

If you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you know we love KiwiCo!

(If you haven’t yet, you can join the mailing list at the end of this blog).

They have all kinds of kids’ activities – for all ages.

Here we want to highlight their motion and mechanic kits.

They are beautifully designed kits based on real-world engineering. 

Any kid would have a super time getting stuck into one of these.

The motion and mechanic kits are generally around $30-$40.

16) Made With Love

If you’re a crafty kind of person, you can make your kid (or their friends) a DIY gift.

  • Soft toys
  • Tote book bags
  • Climbing frame
  • Knitted sweater
  • Wooden blocks
  • Go-Kart
  • Puppets
  • Mud Kitchen (from earlier in the blog)
  • Etc.

If you’re not crafty, hopefully, an aunt or uncle is 😉

Thanks for reading!

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