'Tis the Season to Buy Nothing graphic

Let’s embrace consuming less during the holidays and beyond.

As the holiday season is upon us, people are consuming more, whether that be from purchasing new gifts for loved ones or finding deals for yourself. This time of year is filled with the idea of "more." However, with increased consumption comes increased waste. Here are some ways that you can lessen your impact on your wallet and the environment on and off campus.

On Campus

Consider joining the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Office of Sustainability UMBuy Nothing Microsoft Team. You may have heard about the Buy Nothing movement recently in the Sustainability Champions series with Becky Ceraul. This new Microsoft Team adopts the philosophy of a gift-economy and is a space for UMB members to come together and gift, request, or lend items and services. Items can be in new or used condition. You can join the team here or by searching for “UMBuy Nothing” on your Microsoft Teams app. Please note: If you are from the School of Medicine, send a request to join this team to sustainability@umaryland.edu.

Interested in getting rid of new or like-new office supplies like binders, pens, and folders? The UMB Office Supply Swap is going digital and merging with UMBuy Nothing! Please use the Office Swap channel in the new UMBuy Nothing Team to coordinate supply swapping, gifting, or requests.

UMB’s Office of Sustainability has also launched a LabShare Program to reduce waste in your lab. If you have extra lab supplies or equipment, consider participating in this new program. The LabShare Program allows labs to post items they would like to give away by filling out a Google form, which populates into a spreadsheet that labs searching for items can access. More information and resources on how to operate a greener lab on campus can be found on UMB’s Green Labs page.

In the giving spirit? Look for and spread the word on various drives on campus, like the Staff Senate's Misfit Mugs Program. They're looking for mugs to be used in their upcoming Staff Senate Retreat in January. If you have any one-off mugs gathering dust, know that your mug will be going to good use as a misfit mug! Contact Shawnta Privette to donate.

Off Campus

Gifting experiences like trips, concerts, or a dinner can be more meaningful and welcome than an item. Shared experiences with your giftee can be even more significant. Plan out a day with a loved one to visit an area you’ve been meaning to explore.

Donating to a local charity on behalf of your gift recipient is another alternative where a physical item is not given, but a lasting impact is made. Many nonprofits send a certificate of donation if you are donating on behalf of someone.

Make a gift instead of purchasing something. Things like a knitted scarf, tasty food, or a personalized decoration can be a great way to let your recipient know you’re thinking of them this holiday season.

If buying a new item is something you must do, consider in-person purchases if you can to avoid unnecessary shipping from multiple companies. Support local farmers markets, artisans, and small businesses to find unique Made in Maryland items. These practices uplift the local economy while minimizing packaging waste and the carbon footprint of transportation!

Consider purchasing gifts secondhand. Gifting gently used items used to be viewed in a negative light, but shopping at thrift stores can allow for some truly unique finds or vintage throwbacks. Don’t just browse thrift stores; check out items offered in a local Buy Nothing group (like the new UMBuy Nothing Team).

Invest in durable items that will last. Instead of gifting single-use or novelty items, focus on quality. This will reduce the need to trash items that break easily or are difficult to repair.

Check out the website Simplify the Holidays from the Center for Biological Diversity for more resources, like a gift giving guide, and for tips on how to reduce holiday consumption. Intentional consumer practices can help lighten our environmental impact. We hope these tips allow you to foster a fresh perspective on buying less during the holidays and beyond.

Don’t forget to follow UMB’s Office of Sustainability on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also stay in the know by signing up for our monthly newsletter. If you have any questions, or additional ideas, please email sustainability@umaryland.edu.

Students, faculty, and staff, let your voice be heard!
Submit Your Story.