With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are busy brainstorming gift ideas for family members and friends. As college students, we often hunt for gifts that are affordable, chasing different sales and deals. But have you ever thought about giving gifts that are eco-friendly?
Here are a few gift ideas that can have long-term positive impact on the environment and well-being:
Reusable, portable utensils
When we eat at a restaurant, especially those that provide a quick service, it is not uncommon to find plastic utensils. They may enhance convenience, but they are detrimental to our environment.
According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 8 million tons of plastic trash leak into ocean annually, and that amount is continuously increasing.
As a consequence, an increasing number of fish are consuming microplastic particles. This recent study found that when larval perch have access to microplastic particles, they only eat plastic and ignored their natural food source of free-swimming zooplankton. As a result, larval perch display abnormal behavior and stunted growth.
The negative consequences of plastic waste do not stop in the marine ecosystem. Plastic waste also has the potential to negatively affect human health through consumption of seafood .
So consider giving reusable utensils to your family and friends. It may seem like an small gift or small step forward, but it will be a step to the right direction in fighting the battle with increasing plastic particles in our ocean today.
Reusable shopping bags
Another common source of plastic waste comes from plastic grocery bags. However, with the passage of Proposition 67, it is the perfect time to give a reusable shopping bag as a gift. As this LA Times article points out, the proposition will not be effective unless we take an action to be conscious about using a reusable shopping bag.
Finally, consider giving a gift that can grow whether it is a potted plant, tree planting kit, or seed paper. It could be an excellent gift for a wide range of people in your network, from your friend living on the Hill, to your parents working in the office, to grandparents who may simply enjoy gardening at home. Growing plants not only supports the ecosystem but also benefits human health, as a study found that the presence of plants in the office setting and workers’ tension were negatively associated. In other words, giving a growable gift will positively change the built-environment for our family and friends in such a way that promotes both a greener planet and better health.
So, this holiday season, express your love and gratitude while also doing good for the environment! If you have any other eco-friendly gift ideas, please let us know via comments and social media platforms.
Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.