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Campus sustainability director: Maybe don’t buy a gift for Christmas. If you do, maybe don’t wrap it.

Instead of a card, consider ‘a small donation to a charity’

The “sustainability director” at a Virginia university has some novel advice for students heading home for Christmas: consider not actually purchasing a gift for someone in order to lessen your greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’re trying to keep in mind that our carbon footprint is something that can expand during the holidays,” Calandra Waters Lake, Director of Sustainability at the College of William & Mary, told the school’s news service.

Waters Lake offered students several tips for how to “be wise…through our purchases, through food that we eat, through the activities that we’re doing” over the winter break. Among those? Consider not actually buying someone a Christmas gift.

“First, step back and remember that the reason for the gift is to show someone you care. So, is buying a gift the best way to do that?” she asked.

“Going out and doing something with the recipient to spend time with them may be a better option,” she added.

If a student does indeed end up purchasing a gift, Waters Lake said, then it’s an open question whether the gift-giver should even wrap it up.

“Think first does the item even need to be wrapped? One suggestion is a scavenger hunt to find gifts hidden around the house,” she said.

The director also suggested foregoing Christmas cards as well, suggesting instead that “a small donation to a charity in the recipient’s name may work just as well and have a longer lasting impact for the expense.” If you must send cards, however, then “possibly send paper holiday cards only to those who really appreciate receiving them, and go with e-cards for everybody else,” she said.

Read the tips here.

MORE: Take cold showers for the planet, new ‘sustainability’ department urges

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