A Sustainable Holiday Season

By Melanie Stewart

Americans continue to say they would prefer to reduce the focus on gifts during the holidays, with a recent survey showing 69% would agree to forgo gifts entirely so they could save money and spend more time with loved ones.   Even if that’s the desire, the reality is that consumption is still a focus, and this causes waste to increase by 25% (1 million tons/week more to landfills) between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  Not really surprising when you starting thinking about all the shopping, eating, and traveling.

Seemingly little actions add up and there are lots of things you can do to reduce your waste and have a happier, healthier holiday season:

  • Reduce the focus on gifts and concentrate on the things that really matter, especially your sanity.
  • If you exchange gifts, consider buying experiences, like museum/zoo membership, or donations instead of stuff. Consolidate your shopping trips to save gas, take reusable bags, consolidate online shopping to save on shipping, and look for products that contain recycled content and responsibly sourced materials.
  • Wrap gifts in reused materials; if every American household wrapped 3 gifts in reused materials (brown paper packages tied up in strings…maps, Sunday comics, cloth bags) enough paper would be saved to cover 45,000 football fields! For everything else, use recycled content paper and reusable gift-bags, boxes, and bows.
  • Recycling old lights helps local groups now or recycle them any time of year, and replace with new, efficient, LED lights…which use 70% less
  • Hosting? Buy food in bulk to reduce packaging waste, but menu plan to reduce food waste, and serve with reusable plates/cups/utensils/napkins.
  • Make it easy for guests to recycle, and recycle everything you can’t reuse.
  • Consider sending E-cards; saving trees, your time, and money. Recycle or reuse (for decoration, future gift tags, or craft projects) any cards you receive.
  • If batteries are needed, buy rechargeable—they’ll save you money and trips to the store in the long run. Recycle single use batteries.
  • Check your thermostat: more people and more cooking means the temp can be lowered. Every 2 degrees lower saves $100 a year, saves the equivalent carbon emissions as driving a car 3,000 miles, and people get to be comfortable in their (reused) ugly Christmas sweaters.
  • Reduce junk mail by contacting Catalog Choice to remove your name from marketers’ databases.
  • As soon as it’s available, LiveGreen will provide information on recycling trees. Stay tuned!

 

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