Having an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

Hannah Olah, Staff Writer

According to a Stanford University study, “Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving and New Years holiday period than any other time of year.  The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!”  So, while the holiday season may bring about lots of cheer, it also brings lots of waste to landfills, which can pollute the environment.  Not to mention, all of the excess shopping during the holiday season adds some excess debt to the average American family.  Here are some tips to help you have an environmentally friendly holiday season:

When it comes to buying gifts try to stay away from the trends, instead, give gifts that will benefit the environment.  There are plenty of options including reusable water bottles, canvas tote bags, solar powered battery products, ethically sourced clothing items, or items made out of recycled materials.  Other environmentally friendly gifts include homemade items such as baked goods like cookies, breads, and jams.  You can also consider giving a gift that won’t create any waste: tickets to concerts, movies, sports events, theme parks, and restaurants are all fantastic gifts! Finally, if you want to send holiday cards, look for cards made out of recycled materials, make a card out of recycled materials yourself, or send virtual cards!  

Wrapping paper significantly contributes to the amount of waste produced each holiday season.  Many rolls of wrapping paper cannot be recycled due to glitter or foil elements, piling up in landfills across the country.  To reduce waste, wrap gifts with newspaper or colorful magazine pages.  If you want to continue using festive wrapping paper, you can buy rolls of recycled wrapping paper online.  Another option, you can also have festive wrapping by using fabric to wrap gifts.  Fabric is relatively cheap and durable, and there are thousands of festive designs to choose from.  Not to mention, you can reuse the fabric as wrapping “paper” for years to come!

Food waste is another major problem during the holiday season.  However, it does not mean that you have to cut back on the amount of Christmas cookies that you bake!  Instead of being stuck with stale dessert leftovers at the end of the season, share your Christmas desserts with friends while they are fresh.  That way, you reduce the amount of food waste that you are stuck with by the end of the season.  Some leftovers are difficult to share, so if possible compost them instead of throwing them in the trash.  When buying food, try to buy only what you need to reduce packaging waste, and shop from companies that source their food ethically. 

Switch to LED lights to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  LED lights will also reduce your electric bill, as they use 80% less energy than incandescent lights.  If possible, look for solar powered Christmas lights, and use a timer for your outdoor lights to reduce your energy consumption even more.   

“If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields,” according to Stanford University.  This goes to show that we do not have to make major changes to benefit the environment.  Stanford University also concluded that “if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.”  Look for simple ways to switch from nonrenewable to sustainable options, and you’ll make a big difference.  Happy holidays!