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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

The art of gift-giving is hard enough without having to come up with the perfect thing to write in a card or celebrate someone’s birthday the day after Christmas. Gift giving is really about being thoughtful, which can also mean thinking about how your gifts will be used. A lot of the time we give gifts that will be tossed away within a year. The key to sustainable gift-giving is giving a gift that will last and, even if it does get thrown out, won’t harm the Earth by taking hundreds of years to decompose. Here are some sustainable gift-giving ideas that can be used for any holiday or occasion.

Everyday items

Let’s talk stocking stuffers and gift bag fillers. A bamboo toothbrush is a great alternative to the usual plastic one. Plastic hair ties and scrunchies may come in all sorts of fun colors, but they take around 500 years to decompose. Plastic-free ones will decompose within a decade of being made. We can’t help if hair ties get lost or damaged, but we can make the eco-friendly choice of choosing plastic-free ones. Reusable dishcloths are another sustainable gift that everyone can use, and you can choose a design that fits the person you’re buying them for. Another small gift that everyone can use is reusable bags for storing food or sandwiches. This is an alternative to plastic bags that take a thousand years to decompose and become microplastics

All of these gifts and many more can be found on Brightly’s online shop.

Personal care

Shampoo, conditioner and body wash are gifts for the practical gift giver. They can be used as part of a self-care package for a friend who’s always trying something new or for someone who loves to travel. The bar versions of shampoo, conditioner and body wash don’t use plastic like traditional bottles; they can last up to three times longer than bottled products. They’re also TSA-approved and don’t count as a liquid when traveling. The website Bars Over Bottles (“B.O.B “) has a free quiz you can send to friends or take yourself to find products for specific hair types and needs.


Succulents are a great sustainable gift idea and are a low-maintenance gift for when you don’t know what to gift someone. Getting people plants as gifts can be hard since it might be seen as just another thing they have to take care of. Succulents are one of the most low-maintenance plants you can buy and only have to be watered every other week. These are a great alternative to buying flowers from the grocery store that are wrapped in plastic. They also make great housewarming gifts or gifts for someone who you don’t know very well. 

One way you can make gift wrapping more sustainable is by choosing paper bags when buying groceries. Paper bags can be used as gift wraps that you can draw on or you can skip the card and write a heartfelt message on the gift wrap itself. You can also buy ribbons, gift bags and nametags at a thrift store instead of buying new ones. Usually, these items are still in the original package and are unused.

Happy gifting!

Sierrah is in her senior year at UCF. She majors in English with a focus in technical communication. She's an Orlando native and can't wait to share must do’s in her hometown! Sierrah loves theme parks and vegan food.