Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans pile up a whopping 25% more trash than they do at any other time of the year. This extra waste—ribbon, trees, wrapping paper, etc.—equals about 25 million tons of garbage. Something needs to change! We’ve compiled a list of tips to reduce waste over the holiday season so that you can help reduce this statistic.
Wrapping paper is one of the biggest waste factors during the holiday season. We like to make gifts look pretty, wrapping them up with shiny paper, ribbons, and tags—but reusable gift wrap is both pretty and eco-friendly. Use colorful fabric, reuse old bags, and invest in some reusable wrap.
Living trees are an incredible way to help the environment—ask for trees that can be planted after the Christmas season. They offer eco-friendly options for those who want to reduce waste. If you don’t have space to plant the tree again, you can either go to a local nursery and see if they will plant it, compost the tree, or see if your town picks up trees after the holiday season. Fake trees are great if you don’t toss them out at the end of the season.
They’re absolutely stunning at night, but don’t leave your holiday lights on during the day. Not only can you not see them, but they use plenty of energy, too. Leaving lights on too long also will also lead to frequent light bulb replacements. Buy parallel circuit strands so that you don’t toss out an entire strand of lights when one bulb isn’t working.
There are enough Christmas cards sold and sent each year to fill up a football field 10 stories high. If we all sent one card less, we’d save thousands of yards of paper; if we sent electronic holiday cards, we could remove that statistic all together.
Before Christmas and New Year’s, try to eat everything sitting in your freezer—don’t just toss it out. This way, you don’t have to toss a bunch out to make room when your leftovers are packed up. You should also try composting! On Thanksgiving alone, the average family tosses out 25% of the food made. Since food during the holidays is so delicious, why not make some delicious leftovers instead of throwing it out? Plan out recipes that include some of the items from your holiday meals. Soups and pastas are an easy way to reuse a lot of the cuisine!
Whether it’s movie tickets or a night filled with ice skating and lights, there are so many things out there for you and your loved ones to experience. Children and adults love to do things with their family. Yes, presents are fun, and sometimes they’re what we need. But experiences last forever; the memories created are what we talk about and are the traditions we carry on. This year, take the time to talk to your friends and family about what they would want to do, then see if you can gift them that experience.