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Blue and gold gifts with green background
Blue and gold wrapped gifts

UNC Greensboro is known for its sustainability practices on campus and is one of the most environmentally friendly universities in the nation, according to the Princeton Review and Sierra Club Cool Schools.

And this holiday season, UNCG Sustainability has some tips to help environmentally-savvy Spartans reduce environmental impact as they celebrate with friends and family.

We can help save the planet by making homemade gifts, giving sustainable gifts, or by shopping for gifts at local, small businesses. In Greensboro, for example, check out alumni-owned The Tiny Greenhouse, a gift shop that specializes in plants, cards, and “quirky vintage finds.” Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags!

In planning for holiday meals, reduce your consumption of things that need to be thrown away such as styrofoam, straws, plasticware, paper products (plates, towels, cups), and wax paper cartons. Consider using (festive) cloth napkins instead of paper, and plan to compost excess food. (You do not need a composter to compost; you only need a secure, outdoor place undisturbed by animals where you can turn the soil from time to time).

For fresh, locally grown food and homemade items from sustainability-promoting businesses, check out local farmers markets, like The Corner Market right near UNCG’s campus.

When you start wrapping, remember that most holiday wrapping paper is not recyclable. Use the brown paper from your deliveries to wrap presents whenever you can. Brown paper packages tied up with string is one of our favorite things! A simple sprig of evergreen completes the package. You can also use reusable gift bags or other vessels such as glass containers, scarves, or festive fabric to present your gifts.

And once the holidays have come to an end, know what can be recycled and where. UNCG Sustainability Specialist Sean MacInnes recommends everyone view UNCG’s recycling guide – it’s available online and in the sustainability tile on the UNCG Mobile App. He also recommends downloading the GSO Collects app (available on Android and Apple) and taking advantage of the app’s Waste Wizard. “Our recycling goes to the same place as the City’s, but there are a few differences in what we collect – just remember plastics with a 1, 2, or 5 can be recycled on campus.” 

Big Belly solar-powered waste and recycling receptacles can be found on College and Sterling Avenues, and there are drop-off locations for electronic waste (batteries, ink toner cartridges, and cell phones) and plastic bags on the second floor of the EUC and in the lobbies of the Kaplan Center, Moran Commons, and the Mossman administrative building. 

Donate or repurpose unneeded clothing, glass containers, and furniture. Some things that can’t be re-used as they are may be acceptable for donation for an art space or creative supply hub like Reconsidered Goods. 

Do you have an idea of a sustainability initiative? Proposals for the Green Fund are due on the 1st of every month during the academic year. Project proposals requesting $1,000 or more in funding are only accepted on November 1 and April 1. More information and the application can be found here

If you have questions about recycling on campus, please contact Ben Kunka: recycle@uncg.edu.

Story by Dana Broadus, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

 
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