Giving green made easy

ASU graduate students release fourth Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide

snow globe with a snowman inside

This holiday season, give gifts from the heart — to loved ones and the planet — with a little help from the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences' fourth annual Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide. The 2023 guide from the school's Graduate Sustainability Committee makes giving environmentally friendly gifts easier than ever.

“Shopping can be hard, especially during the holidays, with so many different people and events. It gets difficult to shop for each one when you want gifts to feel personal, and the guide is meant to help alleviate that difficulty,” said Madeline Buhman, doctoral candidate and president of the committee.

snow globe with a snowman inside
The ASU School of Life Sciences' annual Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide helps make environmentally friendly gift-giving easy with thoughtful ideas for everyone. Image courtesy the School of Life Sciences

While the thought of shopping sustainably may be intimidating, the guide provides plenty of ideas and solutions for all gift-giving needs. From holiday cards made of seed paper that can be planted in the ground later to alternative wrapping papers, no detail has been overlooked.

This year's gift guide also includes ideas for donations, experiences, gifts from nonprofit organizations, gifts that promote sustainable living, DIY items, gifts for pets and gifts that keep on giving.

“A national parks pass is a great option for couples because two people can attend at once for up to a year,” Buhman said. “Maybe you wouldn’t think about buying tickets to events or parks because of the temptation of cheap shopping on Black Friday, and while that may be true, these gifts can often last longer than others and create memories to last a lifetime.”

Olivia Davis, doctoral candidate in the School of Life Sciences, put together much of the guide and was interviewed by ABC15 on campus. Davis says she decided to get involved with the guide because “I’m really interested in science communication in general and I’m passionate about making information accessible to the public.”

It also encourages givers to think practically: Would the recipient want or use this gift in five years, or will it live tucked away in a cabinet or closet?

“People often don’t know where to start or it can be really hard to start those new habits, but once you give something sustainable to them, they realize how easy and practical it can be,” Davis said.

The committee started the gift guide during the fall 2020 semester as a way to help bring some joy to people during the holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has evolved each year.

Supporting small and/or sustainable businesses is another way to be planet-friendly when searching for tangible presents. Buying from small Etsy shops or companies such as Patagonia that donate all profits to climate action is a great choice.

The SOLS Graduate Sustainability Committee meets regularly throughout the year to provide the ASU community with information and education about sustainability initiatives and practices. The committee’s goal is “to encourage graduate students to find ways to live more sustainably and to advocate for sustainable practices in the college in general,” Buhman said.

The committee is open to anyone interested in sustainability. For questions or if you're interested in joining the organization, email Buhman at

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