Updated: Jun 30, 2021
Nothing says holiday season like piles of wrapping paper, serving upon serving of festival foods, and a Christmas tree with branches bending under the weight of numerous ornaments. After the festivities die down, the wrapping paper gets stuffed into trash bags, leftover food gets discarded, and the Christmas tree gets dumped outside. Collectively, this waste we create during the holiday season amounts to 25 million tons of garbage. During a time where we are celebrating our thankfulness, it’s important to consider how we can show our Earth some kindness as well!
First, let’s talk about just how much waste is created during the holidays. It’s estimated that Americans throw away 38,000 miles of ribbon- enough to wrap around the Earth. Americans also discard $11 billion worth of packing material, 15 million Christmas trees and 2.6 billion cards. This waste ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and releases methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas. Now, let’s talk about how to have a more eco-friendly holiday season.
Get creative with your wrapping.
Ditch the wrapping paper and go for a more sustainable option. Wrap your present in a tote bag or reusable shopping bag. It’s eco-friendly, and the person receiving your present will be able to use it! You can also wrap presents in cloth. If you really want to use wrapping paper, use wrapping paper that does NOT have any glitter, velvet, or is metallic, which can’t be recycled. All other wrapping paper is recyclable.
Recycle, recycle, recycle!
Speaking of recycling, there is so much that goes into landfills that doesn’t have to! Remember to recycle any boxes you receive from online shopping, plastic packaging that comes with gifts, and any holiday cards you receive in the mail.
Don’t buy more food than you can eat.
It’s typical to fill an entire table with food to celebrate the holidays. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and dessert; the list goes on and on. Approximately 33% more food is thrown away during the holidays compared to any other time of year. When you buy food, keep in mind how many people you’re serving, and try to buy just the amount you’ll eat. If you have extra, store the leftovers and eat throughout the week. Remember to bring your reusable grocery bags to the store!
Instead of sending physical cards to your friends and family this year, try sending them virtual cards. There are so many fun websites that you can use to create a card and email it to whoever you want. It’s much less expensive, time consuming, and is more environmentally-friendly.
Those of us here at Seaside Sustainability would like to wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday. Try adopting some of these changes in your life to promote a more sustainable holiday season!