Have a zero waste Mother's Day without having to sacrifice Mom feeling extra special

Mother’s Day is coming up fast, and with that the endless questions of what to buy, what to do for Mom that will make her feel special and appreciated, what to cook, etc. If you are planning on spoiling Mom this Mother’s Day, then here are our ideas on how to do it well, without creating unwanted and unnecessary waste. But first, where did it all begin?

History of Mother’s Day

The celebration of mothers and motherhood has been practised since the ancient Greeks and Romans. They held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The modern precedent for Mother’s Day can be found in the early Christian festival of “Mothering Sunday”. A major tradition in parts of Europe and the United Kingdom, the celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and the original purpose was to allow the faithful to return to their “mother church’ – the main church in their home town or area – for a special service.

Over time Mothering Sunday changed into a more secular holiday where children would give their moms flowers and other gifts as tokens of their love and appreciation. Today, Mother’s Day is an annual holiday celebrated on the second Sunday of May, and the aim is to show your mom how much you appreciate all that she has done for you, all of the sacrifices she has made and all that she will still do for you.

Although the holiday has become much commercialized, and many people (such as myself) refuse to partake because we feel that our love is being belittled, the symbolic meaning behind the day is beautiful. You should show Mom how much you care every single day, but if you live far from her, or for whatever reason cannot get to her as often as you would like, please use Mother’s day to show her how much you care.

Because of the commercialization, Mother’s Day can be associated with, or at least make it easier, to make excess waste. The endless supply of plastic flowers, cards, and other small single-use items all add up and inevitably end up on a landfill. If the environment, and the amount of waste that you generate, is important to you, then try your hand at having a zero waste Mother’s Day celebration.

Here are our tips.


1. Use what you already have.

Many ordinary household items can be repurposed to fulfil a decorative goal. Our favourite ideas? Here are a few:

2. Opt out of flowers, and into pot plants.

If you really want to use flowers, then choose bulbs that can be replanted or flowers that will keep for longer than others. In South Africa, Proteas and other fynbos are great examples.

3. Go with cloth.

4. If you make use of candles, choose soy.

5. Have an outdoor party if possible.

6. Skip the single-use and disposable plastic. Use real crockery, cutlery, serving ware and glassware.


1. Keep it simple.

The more variety we give, the more opportunity to waste we create. Opt for a simple menu of a small starter, a main course consisting of 1 protein, a side or two and maybe a salad, and a small dessert.

2. For dessert, go for a cake.

This way it forms part of the décor, and everyone can have a slice for dessert.


3. Food scraps

Keep food scraps to a minimum by using everything. If you are using fresh vegetables, then utilize the stems, stalks, leaves and other off-cuts in salads, soups, pestos and stir-fries. Onion skins, small bits of carrots, celery and other non-starchy veg can be frozen for use in stocks. If you do end up with scraps that you cannot use, then compost them.

4. Fruit off-cuts

All fruit off-cuts can be added to filtered water to make gorgeously flavoured water. You can even freeze them in ice cubes to make beautiful ice.

5. Keep the produce local and seasonal.

Buy in as little packaging as possible, and prepare the produce immediately. This way you can freeze or store any extra ingredients before they have the chance to go bad.


If you want to ensure everyone is kept busy and entertained, then you do have a few zero waste options, such as:

1. Board games

2. Outdoor sports equipment, such as a cricket kit, hoop and ball, swingball, etc.

3. Online music subscription services – for mood-setting background music. We love Spotify, but there are numerous other options available as well.

4. Conversation starter cards, like these dinner conversation sets available from Table topics or Skiptomylou.org



1. Give the gift of time

Most Moms never have time to spend on themselves. Give her the chance to take a long bath, enjoy a bottle of wine by candlelight, or whatever makes her truly happy. For great self-care ideas, see our online shop. We deliver throughout South Africa!

2. Give an experience

Tickets to a show, an annual subscription, a photo shoot. Give her something that will give her joy for many moments to come, and something that will ensure she has happy memories to look back on.

3. Choose local

Support local, smaller businesses. Chances are much better that they will be using more earth-friendly materials, processes and packaging, and if not at least you are not buying extra green miles. Plus supporting local means you are circulating your money locally, which in turn strengthens the economy. Win win win.

4. Choose package free

Obviously, choose items that come in as little packaging as possible. And when you wrap the gift, go for reusable options such as gift bags, cloth bags, or cloth wraps.


5. Choose second hand or vintage

Be part of the circular economy by buying preloved. This is perfect for gifts such as jewellery, records, accessories, furniture and décor items, as well as clothing.

6. Choose reusable

Treats in glass jars, books, any gift that will continue giving long after the day has passed. If your mom has started on her own zero waste journey you can gift her something that will make the transition easier, or something that she will need, such as produce bags, glass water bottle, tea infuser, etc. Some of our favourites include

7. Choose natural materials

Go for bamboo, hemp, cotton, metal, or any other material that is not plastic, or plastic-derived such as nylon, polyester or PVC. If you are vegan or follow the vegan principles, then also ignore leather, anything coated with beeswax, and anything containing feathers.

8. Make it yourself

There are endless options of things that you can make for Mom. From bakes and treats to spa products. You can spoil her with home-made drinks, décor items or even food products. Our favourite ideas:

Bath products



9. Take over her responsibilities for a day, or a specific time

Clean the house, do the laundry, wash the dishes, take her car for a valet, do those tasks that very few people like doing, but that must be done.

10. Treat her

Take her to a movie, give her ethically-made and wrapped chocolates, a great bottle of wine, special bath products. Anything that will make her feel as special as she is.

We still believe that Mother’s Day should be every day, but if you want to make mom feel extra special on this one day of the year, then do so! Just try and waste as little as possible. If you have any other ideas or things to add, please leave us a comment!

Moms – may you know how awesome you are. You are the gears that make society run, you are the backbone of our conscience, you are the guide that leads us, and you are the home that will always make us feel safe.

Follow me! A life lead simply, www.alifeleadsimply.com (2).png