For many, the holidays are a time to come together, share gifts and good food and celebrate with family. However, with the holidays comes a lot of extra waste. From bags and wrapping paper to unwanted gifts and food waste, the holidays can be hard on the environment. According to Brightly, Americans toss out 25% more trash during the holidays, up to 6.25 lbs per day each. Use the tips below to try to curtail your waste this season and help lessen your impact on the planet.
Tip #1: Be Sure to Compost Your Tree
Consider buying a live potted tree and planting it after the holidays. If you do decide to get a real tree this year, make sure you compost it when the holidays are over. If you don't have the ability to compost, many organizations like the Boy Scouts pickup trees after the holidays and turn them into mulch as a fundraiser. According to the Nature Conservancy, real trees are better than fake ones because they help fight climate change.
Tip #2: Make Your Own Decorations
It’s easy to make your own holiday decorations- paper chains, clementine wreaths, pine cones, and paper snowflakes will add festive cheer without heading for the landfill. Check out The Spruce for more ideas.
Gifting an experience, like tickets to a museum or dinner reservations, reduces packaging waste and often makes for a more memorable gift, too. If you have to gift something tangible this year, vote with your dollar by purchasing from a B Corp - these are companies that commit to social and environmental change.
Tip #5: Reduce Food Waste at Holiday Parties and Dinners
Americans waste an extra 5 million pounds of uneaten food each year from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. That’s enough food to feed over 500 people throughout an entire year. To prevent food waste, and to save money, spend time carefully planning your recipes and grocery shopping lists this year. You can also use the Guestimator, an online tool that will help you estimate exactly what you’ll need. In addition, be sure to offer guests containers to take home, freeze leftovers that can be used in other recipes, and compost any unwanted leftovers.
Tip #6: Rethink Wrapping Paper & Ribbon
If every family in the US wrapped just three gifts in reusable materials, we could save enough paper to cover45,000 football fields. Most store-bought wrapping paper is not recyclable because of its shiny coating. Instead of wrapping paper, wrap presents in old maps, newspaper, or catalogues. Or use reusable materials like a scarf, dish towel, or blanket - these things all make gifts as well!
Tip #7: Slow Down On Fast Fashion
According to an article in Greenpeace, the unnecessary overproduction of clothing is a leading cause of climate change and plastic pollution. If you’re buying any clothing gifts this year, choose to shop from fair trade and ethical “slow fashion” clothing brands, or shop second-hand vintage. Find more info at Good On You.
Tip #8: Find a Home for Unwanted Gifts
According to a study by Finder, 8% of Americans admit to throwing away unwanted gifts. If you receive gifts you weren’t wishing for this year, don’t just toss them into the trash. Instead, give them to a friend or donate them to a local charity.
Tip #9: Give Rechargeable Batteries With Gifts
Approximately 40% of all battery sales happen during the holidays. If these batteries are not rechargeable, they will likely end up in a landfill once they run out of power.
Tip #10: Buy Cards That Can Be Recycled
With billions of cards sold each year, it's more important than ever to choose cards that are 100% recyclable. Recycle the cards you receive, or choose to send digital cards instead through websites like paperlesspost.com. Read more about what the Greeting Card Association is doing to combat waste in the industry.