By Cristian DeRusha
December is the time to get cozy, give presents to your loved ones, and prepare your home with twinkling lights and pine trees for the holidays. But it’s also the time where our plastic footprints go through the roof, whether that is with the use of shiny gift-wrapping paper, trendy gifts, or just single-use home decorations you repurchase each year. As a matter of fact, Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving to New Year’s than any other time of the year. That’s about 25 million tons of garbage in just five weeks.
So, while ‘tis the season to celebrate and reconnect with our loved ones, it is also the season to try new ways of being more conscious about our environmental footprint. Here are a few of my personal tips for avoiding excess waste during the holidays.
Switch Up Your Christmas Lights
One way to make a major impact on your energy usage this holiday season is to make the switch to LED lights. Holiday lights don’t use a ton of electricity, but this small switch can save you almost $50 on your energy bill. Not to mention that LED lights shine brighter to bring that much more holiday cheer to your home!
Sustainable Wrapping Paper
If you look forward to the excitement of ripping wrapping paper off a present on Christmas morning, there is an abundance of options allowing you to do so guilt free! Wrapping paper is typically only used once before it’s thrown away. Using sustainable wrapping paper is essential for an eco-friendly approach to the holidays. I recommend using pages from old magazines or newspapers to wrap your gifts. You can also avoid using paper altogether by using reusable fabric gift bags. And if you just can’t do without traditional wrapping paper, make sure to check your local store for paper that comes from recycled materials.
Zero Waste Gifts
Finding zero waste gifts is not always easy, but it’s not impossible. If you’re looking to buy new, look for long-lasting, reusable items instead of “trendy” things that will probably end up in the garbage very quickly. Think about gifting experiences over items, like seats to a concert, dinner at a nice restaurant, gift cards to a store, or tickets to a holiday light show. Some of the most environmentally friendly gifts you can give are the ones you make yourself. Consider baking fresh cookies or pies for your friends, soaps, candles, or even better (in my opinion), seeds to help kickstart their backyard garden!
Getting creative with festive decorations is a fun way to get the whole family involved. Start decorating sustainably by making your own with items you probably already have in your home! Whether you save up your wine corks for a garland, or use dried fruits, pinecones, and foliage for ornaments, there are endless options to bring nature into your holiday celebrations.
Cook Farm to Table
There isn’t much to celebrate this season without food! When shopping for your holiday menu, stop by local farmers markets to get fresh produce and other ingredients straight from the farm. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint and enjoying a great meal at the same time!
No matter the occasion this festive season, there are always sustainable options to spice up any holiday! Keep the planet in mind during the holidays and enjoy feeling good while giving back to our environment with sustainable options and avoiding plastic. Happy holidays!