As fun and joyous as the holidays are, they are also responsible for a huge surge in hard waste. In fact, waste generated by Americans in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s increases 25%, amounting to a staggering 1 million pounds of extra waste per week!
Fortunately, there are many simple ways that you can reduce your family’s environmental footprint this season without sacrificing!
Check out these top tips to reduce family holiday waste:
- Bring reusable bags when shopping for the holidays. Whether you’re shopping for presents or a festive dinner, avoid paper and plastic shopping bags by bringing your own. Bonus points for opting for low-impact bags like those made from fabric or recycled/upcycled materials. Keep several in the trunk of your car so they’re accessible even if you only remember last minute.
- Wrap gifts in reusable or recyclable materials. Shiny wrapping paper and plastic ribbons/bows may look pretty under the tree but they’re terrible for the environment. America’s appetite for wrapping paper is responsible for the cutting of approximately 100,000 trees annually. Worse, much of this paper isn’t recyclable due to the chemicals and dyes used to create it. Better, choose alternative wrapping materials like fabric bags, recycled wrapping paper, or even brown paper bags with raffia ribbon for a rustic look. Instead of plastic ribbon and bows, wrap presents in bright yarn or paper ribbon and top presents with sprigs of holly, mistletoe or another festive décor.
- Switch to reusable batteries. A small investment in a battery recharging station and high-quality rechargeable batteries will save our landfills from a lot of toxins! All types of batteries contain harmful materials but by buying fewer (which is also cost effective) and reusing them many times, ultimately fewer batteries end up there. This is a great investment for large families. Selecting gifts that use solar or better, no batteries at all help too!
- Give thoughtful, durable gifts. What use are presents that end up in the garage or closet never to be enjoyed? By purchasing long-lasting gifts that speak to the recipient’s interests and lifestyle, you’ll ensure they’re well-loved and used again and again. Buying quality gifts that don’t wear out or need to be replaced frequently will lessen the impact on overflowing landfills. Skip fad gifts and dust collectors.
- Choose gifts with low- or no impact on the environment. Many of us have more stuff than we need, complete with bursting garages and closets. Why not give an experience instead of material goods? Things like concert tickets, spa treatments, or a restaurant gift certificate with an offer of babysitting can be very much appreciated. There are options for every budget and lifestyle from hot air ballooning and bike tours to weekend crafting classes and matinee live theatre shows.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on greener holidays. Do you have eco-tips of your own to share? Leave a comment below.