How to Have a More Sustainable Holiday Season
During the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, Americans throw away 25% more trash than at any other time of the year. The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year for some, but they are the most wasteful time of the year for us collectively.
Most importantly the holidays are for spending time with family, showing appreciation for each other, and maybe buying a few gifts for the people we love. From holiday cards to food, there is waste in almost every part of the holidays, so here are some of the things I do and some general tips for having a more sustainable holiday. Reducing your waste doesn’t have to reduce the fun!
If you’re sending cards this holiday, consider sending e-cards to reduce potential waste, paper use, and the carbon footprint of mail. If e-cards aren’t your thing (they definitely aren’t mine!), there are tons of beautiful cards printed on recycled paper and even some you can plant to grow flowers!
Most holiday shopping will be done online this year, which will have a huge carbon footprint. So where you can, try to shop locally and/or buy multiple gifts from one online retailer to have a lower transportation impact. Hand making gifts is a great, but also a time-consuming option. I like to do most of my shopping on Etsy for the holidays. I highly recommend this option because of the awesome, unique products but also because Etsy carbon-offsets all orders!
Sometimes all people need is a little nudge in the eco-friendly direction, and a small holiday gift can be a great way to do that. Un-sponges, un-paper towels, a reusable straw, dryer ball, or microfiber catching washing bag are all great places to start.
If you are giving a gift from a company you are proud to support, such as Inclusivi-Tee (shameless plug!) make sure to tell the recipient about the brand. If you’re mailing most of your gifts this year, you could include a little print out about the company. It will make the gift more special and also spark great conversations.
For sustainable gift ideas, stay tuned as Inclusivi-Tee will be posting one next week!
My family has always been very into saving wrapping paper that is in pretty good shape, so now I purposefully unwrap my gifts carefully to preserve the sheet for gift wrapping next year. Saving wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, and ribbons in a specific place is a great way to reduce your waste this year and in the years to come. You’ll also save money, as you won’t have to purchase many, if any, wrapping supplies in the future.
If you do need to purchase wrapping materials this year, opting for recycled and recyclable wrapping paper (aka skipping the shiny stuff) helps a lot since it won’t go straight into the trash. If you need other wrapping ideas that aren’t as wasteful as the traditional ones, check out this clever article: I Tested These 15 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Ideas. Here Are My Favorites!
Skipping decorations like tinsel, using 100% beeswax or coconut wax candles, and skipping single-use plastic items like noisemakers and 2020 glasses are some easy ways to reduce waste, many of which will save you money as well! For the most sustainable holiday, simply use what you already have this year.
Making biodegradable decorations like popcorn chains and citrus garlands can also be fun and beautiful.
FOR CHRISTMAS CELEBRATORS: TREES
If you celebrate Christmas or, like my family, just love having a wintry tree in the house, make sure you dispose of it consciously when the time comes.
Many cities have pick-up programs where you can put the tree out by the curb and the city will pick it up to dispose of it properly, often for mulching or composting.
For even more ideas, especially if your city has no programs in place, here is a list of 8 ways you can recycle your Christmas tree.
This holiday, consider purchasing ‘ugly’ produce. Lots of food, especially produce doesn’t make it to any consumers because it isn’t pretty enough. By this, I mean carrots with ‘legs’, misshapen peppers, and lumpy tomatoes. Many ‘ugly’ foods are perfectly safe and delicious to eat, they just don’t fit our idea of what that food should look like, so usually, they don’t get sold at grocery stores.
To keep these foods out of the landfill, consider purchasing from Imperfect Foods or Misfits Market, sites that sell the ‘imperfect’, ‘misfit’ foods at a much lower price than products you find in your local stores. However, you can also just make a conscious decision to purchase the funnier looking produce you may see at the store since those items are usually avoided and end up in the trash.
As this is going to be a very strange holiday season, we can’t really predict what our waste as a country will be like. This year has been really hard on people and families, so make sure to be gentle with yourself. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments, sustainability-wise or other-, rather than focusing on goals you may not have met.
The holidays are not the only time we need to be more sustainable! You Can Save the World is a book written by the founder of Inclusivi-Tee, Lori Myren-Manbeck, with some help from me, that includes tons of practical and easy tips to start living a more sustainable lifestyle. The book is available for pre-order now (and would make a great gift!).
Finally, here are some of my favorite resources about having a sustainable holiday:
35 BEST tips for an eco-friendly HOLIDAY Season by Shelbizzle
Sustainable Holiday Decor by My Green Closet
11 Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Season by Earth Hero
Have a lovely wintry season everyone!
Take care and stay safe,
P.S. I have loved writing the blog for Inclusivi-Tee these past few months, but here I am, posting my last one! I can’t believe the time to sign off entirely has come, already. Wow. Thank you so much to anyone who has read my posts.