A beginner’s guide to green gift giving

This week, Molly Davis, vice-president of TAMUCC’s Islander Green Team, shares some pro-tips on going green.

The holiday season brings families and friends together to bond over beautiful dinners, gift giving, and other festivities. The holidays also bring about a tidal wave of overconsumption. Between the large family meals and presents for all, food and solid waste runs at an all-time high during this time of year. It’s estimated each person in America produces over an average of 43% more waste than usual within the last three months of the year. In order to protect our environment and be an ally to our Earth, it’s important to practice sustainable living all year round. Normalized overconsumption and premature seasonal marketing have largely contributed to the waste crisis we face today, but the holidays don’t have to be an antithesis to the environmental movement! There are some easy solutions to help you go green this holiday season. 

One of the first steps to green gift-giving is to make the process sustainable from start to finish. Staying green during the holidays isn’t just about purchasing or making an eco-friendly gift. Instead, minimize your carbon footprint by considering the entire gift-giving experience: shopping, wrapping, and disposal. For instance, be conscious when shopping by using reusable bags, ordering/purchasing from sustainable companies, avoiding overly packaged items, and shopping locally, and from small businesses. How you wrap the gift can also play a huge role in holiday waste. A beautifully wrapped gift is thoughtful, but most gift wrap can’t be recycled. According to Earth911, approximately 4.6 million lbs. of wrapping paper are produced in the U.S. each year, and about 2.3 million pounds end up in landfills. Instead, try using gift bags, baskets, newspaper, and cardboard paper. You can also check out these wrapping paper alternatives. Other tips on proper solid/food disposal and holiday sustainability have been listed below.


Gifting eco-friendly products can seem expensive or challenging at first, but the list of ideas is endless! Buying reusable items that are made ethically and with superior quality than single-use items can help encourage your friends and family to live a green lifestyle. For those who like to get creative or are on a budget, try out some DIY gifts this year! You can upcycle materials or even think outside of the box for ideas where no purchase is necessary. If you have a specific gift in mind, purchase from sustainable brands that actively reduce their carbon emissions and ethically source their materials. See our list of ideas below for reusable, DIY, sustainable, and nature-based gifts that you can add to your shopping list this holiday season.

Reusable-

DIY/No Purchase Required-

Sustainable Brands-

See more by visiting this Sustainable Brands Directory.

Gifts of Nature-

Read more about ‘True Blue Gifts’ in our past blog post here!

This year, challenge yourself to produce as little waste as possible, from buying gifts that are eco-friendly (and will actually be used by the recipient!) to eliminate family food waste by eating leftovers and composting acceptable foods. Green gift-giving and holiday living doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive; hopefully the resources we compiled can assist you in your zero-waste festivities. Have a happy Green holiday this year!

Image from Adobe public domain.

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