The most wonderful time of the year is unfortunately also the most wasteful. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans generate an extra 1 million tons of trash — 25% more than the rest of the year! People throw away everything from uneaten food, unwanted presents, wrapping, and packaging, to TVs, laptops, and cells phones to make room for the new ones. The number of tossed greeting cards could build a mountain ten stories high with the area of a football field. It’s a similar story around the world, with the UK throwing away enough wrapping paper to cover the equator nine times, along with 4.2 million discarded Christmas dinners! Our holiday tale doesn’t need to be one of stress, consumption, and waste. With a few small changes, you can enjoy an eco-friendlier holiday season.
Create your own wrapping paper, or go without
Store-bought wrapping paper can’t be recycled because of its glossy sheen, and the amount of natural resources that goes into making something that’s designed to be thrown away is mind-boggling. You likely already have enough unique material around your home to do the job in a way that will impress your family. Try newspaper comics, children’s artwork, old maps, a bandana, or piece of cloth that tells a story. You could even turn Christmas morning into a scavenger hunt and hide unwrapped gifts around the home to be found by the kids. Fun and clever ideas make the holiday that much more special.
Massive holiday consumerism has a huge impact on the environment, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a whole world of DIY gift ideas on the internet that are fun to make, easier on your wallet, are more meaningful, and aren’t made in an overseas sweatshop. You can also purchase gifts that have a lower environmental impact by choosing locally made products, or gifts made from renewable or recycled materials. The gift of an experience needs no wrapping and can’t be thrown away. Tickets to an interesting place, a show, a ball game, or even dance lessons will delight the receiver and create memories that last forever.
Energy saving LED lights
Festive lights are treasured part of the holiday experience, but use a lot of energy and can rack up your light bill. Decorate your home with LED lights and use 90% less energy than the old ones. They also release less heat and are safer. They last 200,000 hours, and if one burns out you don’t need to replace the whole strand!
Less meat, more local
Meat has a huge impact on water, land, and the climate. Reducing the amount of meat in your holiday feasts will reduce your environmental footprint more than any other action you take. If you don’t want to forgo the holiday turkey or ham, buy one from your local farmers who grow sustainable meat and produce. Local food is much better for the planet, tastes better, and you’ll be doing your part to support your community.
Small changes can have a big positive impact on our planet. Enjoy the season, and may all of your holidays be a little greener.