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Tips for Practicing Sustainability This Holiday Season

Posted by: Jennifer Stevens | December 18, 2014 | No Comment |

The Office of Sustainability shares a few ways to practice sustainability throughout the holiday season.


  • Consider giving gifts from companies that give back to communities and the environment. Check out this list of options for the 2014 holiday season.
  • Kelsea Sears, garden coordinator and biology major, suggests cleaning out your closet before the holiday season and giving extra clothes away to a shelter before opening new gifts.
  • Take advantage of Charleston’s great independent business community and purchase gifts from a local retailer. Look for the “LowCountry Local First” sticker or search for a locally owned retailer here.
  • Create your own sustainable gifts: Cara Lauria, a senior geology major, says how-to guides on YouTube cover everything from learning to knit and creating coin necklaces to pickling vegetables and making candles from bee wax over paraffin.
  • Give experiences: “Give tickets to a show or game, or a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant,” says Sylvie Baele, a senior international studies major. “The gift of an experience is often far more memorable than a scarf or tie.”


From Thanksgiving to New Years Day, one million tons of additional waste (including food, packaging, wrapping paper, shopping bags) are added to landfills each week.

  • Reduce your use of wrapping paper by reusing newspaper, suggests Lauria. “I made my mom cry on Christmas Eve two years ago when she saw I wrapped all the gifts in the comics section of the newspaper. Apparently my late grandfather always wrapped gifts for her and her sisters that way (I had no idea!).”
  • Gift wrap and shopping bags alone generate four million tons of waste each holiday season, so don’t forget to bring reusable bags when shopping.
  • Compost your Christmas tree: Charleston residents can drop off their trees at Bees Ferry Landfill (1344 Bees Ferry Road, West Ashley) and receive a free bag of compost in exchange. You can also place your tree with your yard debris for curbside pickup.
  • Consider purchasing a potted tree that can be planted at the end of the season.


There are many ways to incorporate sustainability into your holiday meals.

  • Reduce food waste by creating menus around the number of people attending your event (Use RSVPs), compost leftovers, and donate leftover food to a shelter. List of Food Donation Centers in Charleston.
  • Buy local ingredients: Charleston farmers are still growing winter crops such as greens, sweet potatoes and root vegetables. Consider visiting a local farm, sign up for a Community Sponsored Agriculture share, and look for GrowFood Carolina certified local ingredients. “I even urge people to adjust their recipes to local foods and see how this holiday meal might become just that much better through experimentation with new dishes,” says Tennenbaum, a senior political science major.
  • Sea Island Local Outlet (SILO) offers a program that allows residents to order local and regional produce, meats, and other items weekly to be picked up at GrowFood Carolina (990 Morrison Drive). http://www.silo-beaufort.com

Use less meat: One of the greatest ways to reduce your overall impact this holiday is to use less meat in your dishes. If your recipe calls for meat, consider purchasing locally sourced meat or Humane Certified beef, chicken, and pork.

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