34 Free and Sustainable Hangout Ideas

July 18, 2021

So many hangout ideas rely on consumption or spending money. Growing up, the go-to activity in my Midwestern hometown was shopping or going to the mall. As an adult, the classic hangout suggestion is getting food. And while I love a good restaurant, sometimes you want to save a little money, have a little variety, or make an impact.

In this post, you’ll find a bunch of free and eco-minded hangout ideas across different interests. I’ll continue to add to the list as I think of more, and feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

The starred ideas were suggested by followers and commenters on TikTok. I’ll list their accounts below!

Free and Sustainable Hangout Ideas

Some Favorites

  • Have a clothes mending party
  • Pick a friend’s house/room/car to clean*
  • Foraging for wild berries and greens (*especially invasive species!)
  • Cook with random leftover ingredients or have a potluck*
  • Have each friend teach a workshop on a useful skill they know
  • Go to the museum on a free day* or using a free pass from your local library

a wineberry bush with several clusters of berries, and some already picked
Wineberries are an invasive species in the US and they taste kind of like raspberries

Active/Outdoors

  • Go plogging (jogging and picking up litter—you can also walk haha)
  • Go dumpster diving or look for trash/free stuff on the sidewalks
  • Build a compost bin by upcycling materials you have (like a plastic bin or trash can)
  • Plant vegetables from the seeds in your produce and upcycle plastic containers as planters
  • Go geocaching using the free app* (you look for containers hidden around the world)
  • Take a dip in a swimming hole or at the beach
  • Do a beach or park cleanup*
  • Go stargazing
  • Go on a sunrise or sunset hike
  • Do a workout video together (I love doing ab workouts and yoga with others)

a handful of soft plastics and wrappers on the beach

Creative

  • Upcycle old containers, clothes, or other discarded items
  • Create art using the supplies you already have (like melted crayon art)
  • Have a photoshoot for yourselves, or go on a walk to take photos of landscapes
  • Use old newspapers to create origami or papier-mâché (paper mache)
  • Learn a dance from YouTube or using the Just Dance Now app
  • Sing karaoke at home using YouTube videos
  • Learn a new card game or trick
  • Make music together*
  • Shoot a vlog or educational YouTube video
  • Start a blog teaching people about important issues (I’ve linked my guide on how to do it for free)

Community

  • Volunteer or fundraise for a good cause
  • Start a Little Free Library or free pantry by repurposing materials and seeking donations
  • Set up a free market event with usable stuff you no longer need
  • Practice a language or organize a language exchange*
  • Organize a clothing swap (or books or plants*)
  • Start a book club and borrow books from the library
  • Start a donation drive for high-need items like menstrual products
  • Write to brands to demand more sustainable and ethical practices

Free pantry in a construction zone

Thank you to the following accounts for suggesting the starred ideas in my TikTok comments (some overlapping): @ien.4, @ansleighjoyce, @hotgirlsolipsist, @pick.ell, @twinkietonk, @leachespeaches, @emmavdart, @pinkfiddleleaf, @lalo_lauralove, @sgtkarenbear, @oatpulp, @shabshake, @jablaeza.

It is highly possible that more people recommended the same activities, but there were a ton of suggestions, so I wanted to acknowledge the ones I saw first and used in this post.

Where to Find People to Do These With

Not everyone’s friends care about sustainability, so it may be hard to find people who are up for these activities.

If you don’t know anyone interested, I recommend checking your local Buy Nothing Group. These are local Facebook groups for giving and getting stuff for free, but since the members care about reducing waste, you’d likely find people willing to hang out and do these activities. If you’re not on Facebook, Buy Nothing is in the process of developing an app.

Not every city has a Buy Nothing Group, but there are usually local interest-based Facebook groups for things like hiking and running. If you’d like to start a community initiative, a mutual aid group may be good place to look. Do a search and see what you can find!

Otherwise, you could consider explaining to your friends why you’d like to do something else. It could be as simple as saving money or trying something new.

You could also share your passion for environmentalism if you haven’t yet. It’s not easy to broach that topic, especially if your friends are big shoppers, but you could frame it around your own journey. For example, you might say “Hey, I’m actually trying to shop less because I just watched a documentary about fast fashion. Would you be up for trying something else, like doing a clothing swap or mending our clothes together?” They’re your friends, after all, and should be willing to at least hear your perspective.


 

If you have more suggestions you’re willing to have added to the post, feel free to leave them in the comments. Let me know if you ended up trying any of these!

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4 Comments

  • Nina | Lemons and Luggage July 19, 2021 at 5:18 am

    I love these. There’s really something for everyone in there, and I love that you also include tips for if our friends don’t share the same interests. We all change so much during our lifetimes, and at some point, it can seem almost like you have nothing in common with your friends anymore. I like the tips for meeting new people but also trying to get friends involved without being too preachy about it.

    • Lily July 19, 2021 at 4:39 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it, Nina! It is true that people change a lot over time. Which also means they could get interested in sustainability even if they aren’t currently into it 🙂

  • Cathy July 20, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    We get together for a pot luck and crafting night. It started when everyone was into scrapbooking. We’d all work on our photo albums, share materials, etc, but now some people knit, others paint, some work on photo albums. We take turns hosting and get together every few weeks. Great suggestions in the post, thank you for writing!

    • Lily July 20, 2021 at 7:56 pm

      That sounds like so much fun! I’m glad you liked the post – thank you for sharing your ideas!

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    I'm Lily, and I run races and go places (& blog about it). I also try to advocate for the planet & its people.
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