"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Sleigh the holidays, give the gift of sustainability

A gift-giving guide to make this holiday season eco-friendly and bright
On average, Americans produce 25% more waste, or one million tons of extra waste, each week during the holiday season. (Courtesy of Shutterstock)

Winter is upon us. Car heaters are turned to their highest blast. Fall cardigans stay hidden beneath winter parkas and gloves. The jing-a-ling of the Salvation Army volunteers standing outside of Trader Joe’s gives a merry backdrop to the hordes of shoppers clambering to get their mittened hands on the sweet seasonal peppermint Joe-Joes. String lights twinkle above the pine-smelling Christmas tree pop-up stands on the side of the road. The aesthetic excitement of the holidays dazzles and brightens Winston-Salem’s bustling streets and storefronts. 

The stresses of holiday gift shopping, however, can make that cheer feel more malicious than merry. The holidays are also notorious for encouraging people to buy and consume more than they normally would throughout the year. On average, Americans produce 25% more waste, or one million tons of extra waste, each week during the holiday season. This holiday season, show your friends and family you care about them (and also the planet). 

If you’re feeling worried about overconsumption spoiling your holiday fun, fear not! We have compiled a guide to sustainable gift-giving to ensure your presents warm the hearts of your loved ones and keep the Grinch — also known as climate change — away from your hearth. 

  • Regift what you already have

Sometimes, the best place to shop for gifts is in the aisles of your own home! Gifting personal items that you no longer use, such as hand-me-down clothing items or jewelry, not only saves you money but adds a personal touch to your presents. 

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  • Homemade gifts show them you care 

The recent popularity of bunting made of dried oranges and foraged christmas wreaths have put sustainability-centered holiday decor and gifts on the map. Many DIY projects  are easier than one might think — like making homemade vanilla extract or hot-cocoa premixes in cute mason jars you can decorate with all your holiday cheer. 

  • Make a donation in someone else’s name

Giving money to a foundation or nonprofit that does work for a cause of personal meaning to you or your loved one can be a way to direct your financial resources to places where they are most needed. Most foundations will allow you to make the donation in the name of another person, which allows you to recognize and celebrate your loved one for the holiday season while placing your cash in hands that will use it for change. There are hundreds of nonprofit organizations on the local, statewide and national level accepting donations year-round — only a click away. Local environmental-focused organizations, like Piedmont Environmental Alliance, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Yadkin River Keeper, deserve some holiday generosity. 

  • Shop local!

Winston-Salem is home to many thriving local businesses, all with stunning holiday gifts 

to give your loved ones. Shopping locally not only reduces carbon emissions that come from shipping and travel but supports your community and local economy. 

 Local shops like The Green House located on Poplar Street or Remedy Apothecary in Pfafftown make in-house balms, salves, candles and tinctures, all which are perfect for the winter season. Piedmont Environmental Alliance, a local environmental non-profit, even has a useful list of Green Business Members that have a pledge to sustainability, including A/perture Cinema, Camino Bakery and Village Fabric Shop. 

  • Wrap your gifts sustainably

An estimated 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper gets produced in the U.S. annually — nearly half of which ends up in landfills, according to a study at Sundale Research. To cut down on waste and retain the fun of unwrapping a surprise gift, opt for used cloths or scarves to wrap your presents instead of paper. Brown paper from old grocery bags can also be used to cover your presents without consuming plastic-coated, store bought wrapping paper. Brown paper biodegrades quickly and requires fewer resources to produce, as well. You can even use newspapers like this one — after you’ve read it of course. Saving your wrapping paper is also a great way to cut back on paper-related waste.

Small changes can add up to make a large impact on the wellbeing of the planet this gift-giving season. We hope this gift guide will help you jingle all the way to sustainable holidays ahead!

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About the Contributors
Una Wilson
Una Wilson, Environment Editor
Una is a senior from Winston-Salem, North Carolina who is majoring in Biology with minors in environmental studies and journalism. Outside of the OGB, she is either in the woods studying mushrooms, teaching herself how to juggle, or corralling people to come hang out at her weekly radio show (7 p.m. on Tuesdays).
Ella Klein
Ella Klein, Environment Editor
Ella is a sophomore from Winston-Salem, N.C. majoring in environmental studies and minoring in anthropology. Outside of the OGB, she is the creative director of The Magnolia, a member of Wake Radio and an intern with the Office of Sustainability. In her free time, you can find her kayaking, gardening, listening to music and drinking celery soda.

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