The holiday season is a time of giving, but in recent years, it’s become a season of wasting too. Americans throw away 25% more trash during the period from Thanksgiving to New Years than they do during the rest of the year. And the United States isn’t alone. In the UK, the amount of rubbish produced during the holidays spikes 30% compared to the rest of the year!
The holidays don’t have to be as wasteful as they are. We wanted to hear some fresh ideas about how to reduce waste this holiday season, so we turned to our amazing ambassadors for some of their ideas. Here are 10 ways to stay eco friendly while you shop.
Fact: If every family in the US refused two feet of holiday ribbon, we’d save enough ribbon to tie a bow around the Earth. If every family wrapped just 3 gifts in reused materials, we could cover 45,000 football fields with the paper we’d save. Of course, we don’t want to do either of those things! But it goes to show just how much of a positive impact that reusing gift wrapping can have.
2. Buy better cards
Every year, 2.65 billion are sold in the United States alone. That could fill a football field 10 stories high! Many of these cards are recycled, but some are not. While many are made of paper, they do often contain plastic coating, glitter, and other non-biodegradable materials.
If you’re sending cards this year, check out our greeting cards. Not only are they biodegradable, but they have seeds in them. So when you’re done with your card, plant it and it’ll grow!
3. Buy items that will last
Especially when shopping for children, it can be tempting to pick up a cheap plastic toy that will keep them entertained for a bit. But it’s better to give one solid, long-lasting gift than a bunch that might not last. Avoid single-use gifts if you can.
4. Bring your own bag
This one is super easy! Avoid plastic bags when shopping in stores by bringing your own bag. If you do find yourself walking out with a single-use bag, consider using it as gift wrapping to cut down on waste!
5. Shop for households, not individuals
Another way to cut down on the waste of the holiday season is to shop for entire families instead of the individuals therein. Ask if there’s anything the household really needs, like a new kitchen appliance, instead of purchasing something for everyone in the house.
6. Recycle broken, tangled Christmas lights.
The average Christmas tree has around 300 lights on it, and with as many as 30 million trees sold in the United States each holiday season, well, that’s a lot of Christmas lights! Often times, when the lights get too tangled to bother with or burn out, they get thrown in the trash. But did you know that Christmas lights can be recycled? Learn more about how to recycle Christmas lights on our blog.
7. Use up your leftovers
There is a truly shocking amount of food waste that happens during the holiday season. Keep close tabs on who you expect for big family dinners and try to cook appropriately. If you have leftovers, be sure to send them home with those who are visiting! And if all else fails, make a good faith effort to eat those leftovers in the subsequent days.
8. Don’t use excess packaging
If you’re shipping something to a loved one far away, choose appropriate packaging. Select a box that is appropriately sized for the item containing it and try to avoid plastic insulation and protection inside. Use shredded paper or other eco-friendly packaging instead of bubble wrap if you can.
9. Use LED lights
The most eco-friendly thing you can do vis-a-vis Christmas lights is to use the lights you already have, but if you’re in the market for some new string lights, pick out LED lights. They use 70-90% less energy than regular lights and last considerably longer. You can really amp up the savings by putting them on a timer and a dimmer switch so they’re only on when you need them and as bright as you want them.
10. Recycle your tree
One of the final eco friendly acts of the holiday season is properly disposing of your tree. Many locations have free drop off locations for old trees where they are mulched or used for other environmental reasons. Some areas use Christmas trees as fish habitat in local lakes. You can also hang onto your Christmas tree for a few months, allowing it to fully dry, then use it as wood for your fireplace!