How to have a happy sustainable holiday season

The holiday season is upon us, which means gift-giving and holiday parties are in full swing. Throughout this joyous season of gifting and spending time with family, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, Americans also generate large amounts of waste – more specifically,  an additional 1 million tons of waste per week. This increased waste during the holidays comes from items such as wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, broken lights, decorations, cards and even food. 

If every American household reused just two feet of ribbon when wrapping gifts, 38,000 miles of ribbon would be saved. That amount of ribbon could tie a bow around the entire planet! Additionally, if every family wrapped just three presents in reusable materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. 

Here are some ways in which you, your families and friends can cut down on your holiday season waste:

  • Take only what you need
  • At holiday dinners and family gatherings, only take what you know you can eat to minimize food waste
  • If you’re hosting a holiday party with food involved, send leftovers home with guests
  • Minimize the use of wasteful packaging
  • Minimize the use of wrapping paper and tape
  • Wrap multiple presents in the same box 
  • Reuse your wrapping materials
      1. Save your bags, ribbons and bows for next year
      2. Open gifts carefully so you can save the wrapping paper
  • Try reusable wrapping materials 
      1. Fabric, old newspapers, and blankets work just as well as wrapping paper
      2. Instead of ribbons, try using twine or fabric strips to tie up your gifts
      3. Things like glass mason jars and reusable shopping bags can work as gift wrap or even part of the gift itself
  • Look for wrapping items made with recycled material
      1. This includes boxes for shipping, cards, and wrapping paper
  • Give gifts with an environmental message
      1. Look for products that are made from recycled materials 
      2. Invest in gifts that will last a long time like a reusable thermos or waterbottle
      3. Buy from fair-trade companies that promote sustainable practices
  • Don’t forget the value of a homemade gift
    1. Homemade cookies, breads, jams are lovely gifts that can be made and enjoyed with minimal waste
    2. Giving experiences such as dinner reservations, movie tickets, or IOU’s to help with chores have no waste and are equally (if not more) appreciated
    3. Try giving gifts that are going to be “used up,” like soap, candles, or even plant seeds