By Olivia Montes
For the next few weeks, the Washington College Student Government Association Environmental Committee and Center for Environment & Society will be hosting the second annual Upcycled Holiday Gift Exchange.
With registration ending on Nov. 21, participants will have the opportunity to “make something cool and unique from items you already own and don’t use” to give to their assigned partners, according to the flyer sent by SGA.
According to SGA Secretary of the Environment and senior Alexa Venturato, the practice of upcycling involves taking items individuals already have and/or no longer use and ultimately “either turning it into something new or repurposing it.” With this practice at the core of this initiative, Venturato said that by refurbishing items, participants will help “reduce the amount of consumerism” plaguing many people during the holiday season.
“A lot of stuff that we have can be used again and again — we don’t always constantly need to be buying new things,” Venturato said. “So, the idea is to…take things we already have and give them new life by giving them to someone else.”
According to CES Center Coordinator Jamie Frees Miller, the exchange began in 2020 with the intention of helping to “bring the [WC] community back together” during uncertain times.
“[Last year] the idea was to not have to spend any money except shipping, so by upcycling or regifting, you’d be reducing waste, or if you were crafty, you could make something,” Miller said. “Participants could anonymously communicate with their draw to learn more about them and send a gift with more meaning that way.”
“Since we are all back on campus [this year], we can even avoid shipping costs and any waste that might have resulted because of shipping because now we can all exchange gifts through [WC] Central Services on campus,” she said.
According to Venturato, after registration, participants are randomly assigned the recipients of their gifts via Elfster. During finals week, WC students, staff, and faculty will take their upcycled gifts to Central Services to exchange on Dec. 13.
Venturato said that being in-person this semester allows for participants to not only be creative and unique through gift-giving, but also foster a further sense of community.
“[As] this is our first semester officially back, I’m hoping that this will help give faculty and staff a way to connect with students and connect more students with [their peers],” Venturato said. “[It] will also emphasize that the holiday season doesn’t have to be all about…how much money you spend on an item; it’s about the thought, being together, [and] sustainability is the bottom line.”
Miller said that she hopes that this program not only becomes an annual tradition on the College campus, but also allows faculty, staff, and students to be more conscious of their gift-giving practices during the holiday season.
“I think regifting shouldn’t be something we look down on. After all, something that you don’t find useful, someone else might really enjoy,” Miller said. “I think as society looks for more ways to be environmentally friendly, this type of upcycled gift giving might become a newer normal…[and] I think becoming more environmentally conscious during the holidays will make us more conscious consumers and gift givers.”