It’s the holiday season! I don’t know about you, but I for one LOVE the holidays. Admittedly saying I like wearing big sweaters, drinking warm drinks, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying holiday lights isn’t anything abnormal. However, no matter how much I love them, the holidays can’t just be about the fun. Amidst all the twinkling and cheer, there is an environmental cost that is often forgotten but significant. Back in 2010 the EPA reported that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Americans create 25% more trash than any other period. While that number is 8 years old, the reality is American waste around the holidays – in both trash and energy – is still bleak.
Rather than miring the holidays in can’t and waste, though, here are some ways to redirect the traditions we love into greener holiday practices.
1. Reuse gift wrap and packaging
This is a no brainer to start with. Single use gift wrap is a huge source of waste during the holiday. Luckily many places are wising up to the benefits of multi-use or recyclable gift wrap. With the variety of cool bags, boxes, recyclable and natural papers, and creative ways to make your own, there’s really no excuse not to start converting to more sustainable methods of wrapping presents. In fact, by reusing two feet of ribbon, we could save enough ribbon to tie a bow around Earth..
2. DIY natural decorations
Festive holly, wreaths, and trees don’t have to be store-bought or fake. There are so many ways to create naturally beautiful decorations out of the winter trees and plants in your own yard. If you don’t have an evergreen handy, you can always see what your local nursery to build your own. A simple search on Pinterest or Google will give you a flood of creative ideas, or you can just build straight out of your own imagination. And just think, this could be the start of beautiful and green new family tradition.
3. LED all the way
Everyone has heard this by now, but it’s true: LED is better for the environment, cheaper for your electric bill, and safer to leave on. If you haven’t switched yet, go do it.
4. Share the food, not the trash
Holiday parties and dinners are super fun, but they can also be a big source of waste. Even if disposable cups and plates make for easier cleanup, it’s not really worth the environmental impact. Consider putting in the extra work to use the real stuff, or at least buy disposables that are recyclable or compostable and put out bins accordingly.
Another no-brainer is recycling. The thing is, people don’t realize how many things can and should be recycled. Lights? Yep. Trees? For sure. Wrapping paper? Yes (but confirm it’s the right kind!). A little focus and research on recycling this year will go a long way.
And of course, as we always like to tell you, shopping locally is a great way to reduce environmental impact. Shopping locally reduces travel emissions, plus it introduces you to the amazing creativity and quality in your own town. Consider making your holidays a little brighter and greener this year and share the local love.
For other eco-friendly holiday suggestions, check out:
“10 Ways to Have a GREENER Christmas This Year” from Botanical Paperworks
“How to Have a ‘Green’ Christmas” by Eartheasy