Low Waste Mother's Day Gifts A child's hand between white flowers and a handmade Mother's Day card

Low Waste Mother’s Day Gifts

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Reminder: This Sunday is Mother’s Day! Struggling with finding the perfect gift for her? Don’t want to give something that just ends up in the trash? Want to make sure it’s meaningful? I’ve compiled a huge list of low waste Mother’s Day gift ideas that range from physical objects to experiences and activities so you can bet there’s something here your mom will love.

Coronavirus Caveats

Sadly, this weekend is going to be a bit different than usual due to the virus. Many of us may not even see our moms in person, but thanks to technology we can still call, text, and videochat. I know some of these gifts ideas are not necessarily possible this year, but I hope you’ll be able to use some of them in the future.

Physical Gifts

Physical gifts don’t always need to be wasteful. There are plenty of low waste Mother’s Day gifts that can be tailored to your mom and show her how much you care.

Potted Flowers and Plants

Flowers are usually the go-to gift for Mother’s Day, but a fresh-cut bouquet doesn’t last very long. In the US, most flowers are grown internationally and shipped. That’s a lot of emissions for a few days of color.

Give her a gift that lasts instead. Buy her a potted plant, herbs, succulents, or flowers she can keep for months or years. You could also buy her seeds or bulbs you can plant together.

Zero Waste Makeup

Surprise your mom with some ethical, zero waste makeup. Lots of makeup contains ingredients that actually aren’t great for your skin. Check out this list from Going Zero Waste to find something she’ll love that’s more natural and not in a plastic compact!

Food and Drink

This low waste Mother’s Day gift kind of straddles the line between physical and experience, but I’ll put it here. Cook up your mom’s favorite meal or bake something sweet for her. Cookies, cupcakes, a cake, banana bread, whatever! You can decorate the treats too to make them special for your mom. If your mom herself likes to cook/bake, do it together to create a fun memory.

If she’s a big tea or coffee drinker, why not get her some of her favorite blends in loose leaf? When I was at college, the city had a loose leaf tea and coffee shop. I asked if I could use my own container, and they agreed. It made a wonderful gift for my mom. In addition to the actual tea or coffee, you could buy her a little infuser (that replaces tea bags) or a French press coffee maker.

Hobby Supplies

What does you mom like to do? Garden? Read? Sew? Workout? Get her something you know she will use and love by honing in on her interests. If she likes reading a specific magazine, buy her an electronic subscription. You can likely find supplies secondhand either in a local thrift shop or online. If not, try your best to reduce the waste involved and/or buy from responsible companies.

Secondhand Gifts

Speaking of secondhand, peruse the aisles of your thrift shop to find something unique for your mom. You can find jewelry, clothing, cookware, books, decor, and more!

I’ve bought plenty of gifts secondhand for others. Remember the tea I bought my mom? I put it in a sealable flip-top jar I thrifted that came with a little wooden spoon for scooping. Last year, I bought my mother-in-law a cute cat mug.

Handmade Gifts

Moms love handmade gifts no matter what age her children are. Handmade gifts are a labor of love, which is why they are so appreciated. For smaller children, have them draw pictures or make an art project for Mother’s Day.

For older children/adult children, you can still put art skills to work. If you’re good at drawing or paint, create a portrait of the family. If you have woodworking skills, perhaps construct her a rocking chair or stool. Last year, I gave my mom embroidery piece I sewed and framed.

Zero Waste Gear

If you’re still stuck for ideas, gift your mom some zero waste gear. I recently posted a list of 15 zero waste online shops which are full of great finds! My local store, the Boston General Store, has a specific Mother’s Day section with a variety of different options which might match your mom’s style.

A list of low waste Mother's Day gift ideas


The best low waste Mother’s Day gifts are experiences. Memories last a lifetime, and many of them can create little to no waste. Because of the pandemic, it may not be possible to do some of these just yet, but you can promise or buy tickets for more in the future.

Breakfast In Bed

This one is really only possible if you still live with your mom. Cook up a delicious breakfast for her and surprise her with breakfast in bed. You could even get creative and, say, shape the pancakes into hearts.

The Day Off

Moms are busy people and usually have a lot of housework to do. Lighten the load for her and do the chores around the house like dishes, laundry, or sweeping the floors. Have younger children clean their rooms and pitch in where they can.

Coffee Or Dinner Date

Take a few hours to just sit and talk with your mom over coffee or a meal. Like I mentioned in the section above, you could cook the dinner together at home, but you could also go to a restaurant (post-pandemic) or order in.

Spa Or Massage

Moms are busy, and they do a lot. She deserves a day of relaxation and pampering. Book her an appointment for a spa day or a massage, or buy her an e-gift card. I did that for my mom this past Christmas, and she was overjoyed.

Hair Or Nail Salon

To continue the pampering ideas, take her to get her hair or nails done. Better yet, do it together and make a day of it. My mom and mother-in-law both love having pretty nails to show off to people.


If your mom’s a movie buff, spring for a pair of tickets and see the latest flick together. My mom and I like seeing scary movies together and then discussing afterwards how lame they were or pointing out plot holes. It’s just something fun we enjoy doing.


Some people think museums are boring, but others disagree. This experience works best if the museum has an exhibit of a particular interest to your mom. Perhaps her favorite artist or maybe she loves women’s history and there’s an exhibit on women’s suffrage.

Concert Or Sporting Event

Both my mom and my mother-in-law love going to their favorite bands’ concerts. My mom absolutely loves 80s hair bands and will see a couple concerts a year. If your mom’s into sports, get her some tickets to see her favorite team. Concerts and sports games are really fun because each one is a unique experience.

Scavenger Hunt

I’m not talking about the game you played in scouts. ScavengerHunt.com lets you do fun scavenger hunts using your phone. My mom actually discovered this herself, and she and my dad have done a few of them together. They bought one for me and my husband, which we were planning to use on our vacation this month, but we obviously aren’t going anywhere for a while now.

ScavengerHunt.com has scavenger hunts all over the globe. There’s even one you can do at home! You just find the requested item and take a picture of it. The app determines if you’ve collected the correct thing and will give you the next item if you’re right. Sometimes the pictures are funny things, like “someone’s fancy socks”, but other times it’s more normal things like particular iconic buildings and places around the city. It may also ask you trivia questions or a riddle!


Celebrate your other mother on Sunday with a picnic out in Mother Nature. Enjoy the weather and share a meal and conversation together. Being outside, especially during this time, does so much good for our mental health. The fresh air and sun really helps us relax and get away from our day to day lives. If in the evening, light a fire outside and listen to the crickets. Be sure to pack reusable utensils!

Outdoor Activities

If your mom is an active mom, don’t just sit around. We do enough of that in quarantine. Get up and get moving. Take a long walk, a hike, a bike ride, or kayak in the local pond. Spend the day hanging out outside together. She’ll really appreciate the time together.

A list of low waste Mother's Day experiences

Express Thanks

Mother’s Day is all about giving thanks to your mom for raising you so be sure to actually thank her! Instead of buying a $4 card at the drugstore and signing your name, sit down and write a heartfelt letter acknowledging the things she has done for you.

One year, I wrote a bunch of little poems for my mom that she really loved. If you have the talent, write and perform a song for her. Mention a specific memory or thing she has done for you. Let her know how much you appreciate and love her.

Gift Wrapping

We waste a lot of wrapping paper and gift bags and bows and ribbons just to not spoil the surprise. Go a step further and make sure not only your gift is low waste but its wrapping is as well. Here’s a list of options:

  • No wrapping at all!
  • Reuse a gift bag
  • Reuse wrapping paper
  • Color a pattern on a paper grocery bag and cut it to use as wrapping paper (especially good for a gift from children!)
  • Furoshiki (wrapping with fabric)

Instead of ribbon, try natural twine or yarn. Utilize natural items like leaves or dried flowers in place of plastic bows. If wrapping with paper, you can use paper tape to avoid plastic scotch tape.


Second reminder: Mother’s Day is Sunday! I hope these low waste Mother’s Day gift ideas will come in handy for finding the perfect way to say thanks. Be sure to pin this post so you have it for next year!

Low Waste Mother's Day Gifts A child's hand between white flowers and a handmade Mother's Day card

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