Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans throw away one million extra tons of trash every week. As we become more mindful of our impact on the environment, here are seven ways you can play a part in preserving our winter wonderlands.
1. Eco-friendly gifts
Items that are responsibly sourced, packaged, and can be reused over and over are the gifts that keep on giving. Gifts like cork yoga mats, post-consumer waste notebooks, bar soaps, or reusable produce bags all contribute toward renewability and waste reduction. Buying your gifts from businesses that aim to make their packaging paper-based or fully recyclable is another way to support sustainability efforts.
2. Wrapping paper alternatives
Did you know most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable? Wrapping containing glitter, metallic foil, or plastic coatings cannot be recycled, which leads to about 2.3 million pounds heading to U.S. landfills each Christmas. Instead, repurpose your stash of old newspapers, posters, fabric scraps, or scarves into this year’s gift wrap. For a biodegradable and decorative alternative to sellotape, look no further than Washi tape, made from natural fibers.
3. Shop local
Looking close to home for holiday goods not only supports the health of your local economy, but also the health of our environment. Seeking out food and gifts that are grown, made, or stocked locally reduces emissions produced from shipping items to that storefront or your home. Plus, that’s one less bubble mailer or packing peanut that will show up on your doorstep!
4. Reusable dinnerware
The EPA estimated that 1.4 million tons of single-use plates and cups were generated in 2018, and the vast majority were sent to landfills or burned. Opting for your usual reusable dinnerware during holiday gatherings is an easy way to keep unnecessary trash out of the environment. If you simply cannot stand the thought of washing all those dishes, seek out biodegradable or compostable cutlery, plates, and cups.
5. Vintage/thrifted goods
Almost anything you can think of can be found at a thrift store—from holiday décor to extra dinnerware and even gifts. Thrifting decreases the demand for manufacturing brand new products, and therefore reduces the strain on our resources (and even our wallets). And for that one friend who’s a challenge to shop for, you’re sure to find some unique gems that you can’t find anywhere else!
6. Live Christmas trees
If you’re trying to decide between a real tree and a fake tree, the Carbon Trust recommends you go real. When a tree is properly farmed and recycled at the end of a season, their carbon footprint is far less than a fake tree. The Carbon Trust reports that a real 6.5-foot tree produces a carbon footprint of 35 pounds of CO2. A fake tree produces 88 lbs., in addition to staying in landfill for much longer than the average family keeps it in their home.
Real trees are renewable, biodegradable, and important for healthy air. Sustainable farms plant more trees than they cut down, meaning forests and ecosystems are constantly replenished. You can even go the extra mile and get a tree with roots that you can plant in the off season and transport inside during the holidays, which reduces your carbon footprint even further and saves money in the long run.
If you already have a fake tree, the best recommendation is to keep using it! It takes 7-10 years for a fake tree to balance out its carbon footprint. The longer you use it, the better!
7. LED lights
LED lights are kinder to the earth and your bank account. They last up to 25 times longer and use up to 80% less energy than other bulb varieties, which is a double whammy of energy conservation. With that decrease in material production and electricity consumption, LED lights result in less waste and carbon emissions.
How are you striving to make your holidays more sustainable? Share your solutions and tag Walker Edison on social media so we can applaud your effort!