10 Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season
The holiday season is here! It’s the season of giving, celebrating, and spending time with our loved ones. It’s also the season of shopping, wrapping, parties, and decorations. If you’re trying to live a lower waste lifestyle, you might be wondering how to make it through this holiday season without contributing to the most wasteful time of the year.
It really is the most wasteful time of the year. During the holidays, Americans produce an additional 5 million tons of waste. That’s on top of all of the regular amount of waste we usually produce. Not to mention that 4 out of the 5 million tons is made up entirely of wrapping paper and shopping bags! And that’s just in the United States.
So what can we do? To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 10 ways to minimize your waste this holiday season:
1. Gift experiences, rather than things
Our first tip to minimize holiday waste is to gift experiences to your loved ones, rather than things. Treat them to a concert, a spa day, a dinner date, or a staycation! The possibilities are endless, and the memories will last forever. You may also consider donating to a non-profit or charity in their honor.
Bonus tip: for other alternative gift ideas, consider giving used, or secondhand gifts this holiday season!
2. Use reusable bags during your holiday shopping
It’s inevitable, we’re all going to end up shopping this holiday season, whether it’s for food, gifts, or all of the above. But while we shop, we can minimize our waste by remembering to bring our reusable bags, including reusable produce bags and bulk food bags as well!
Bonus tip: Shop local to reduce carbon emissions related to shipping. Also, remember to shop for quality, not quantity, when shopping for gifts - items that are made to last, not made from plastic.
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3. Use reusable wrapping
Who says the wrapping can’t be a part of the gift as well? Reusable shopping totes, produce bags, and cotton drawstring bags all make great “wrapping” for your gifts - and even better, the receiver can use them again and again, reducing their own waste as well!
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4. Re-use shipping paper for wrapping
We’re all online shopping these days. You know that brown paper that comes in most of your packages? Set it aside, and re-use it for a great low waste wrapping paper!
5. Re-use gift bags and boxes
Those beautiful, shiny gift bags and boxes - they’re everywhere! They’re festive and fun, but not great for the environment. If you already have some floating around that people have given you, save it and re-use it to gift to someone else. This tip will save you money, too!
Bonus tip: Buy recyclable gift wrap! Okay, maybe you’re in a position where you don’t have anything lying around that you can use for wrapping a gift. If you need to buy wrapping paper, keep in mind that those shiny wrapping papers aren’t recyclable, but kraft paper is! Newspaper is recyclable as well!
6. Save the bows and ribbon for next year
When the gift-unwrapping ensues, make sure you hold onto those bows and ribbons, so you can use them again! And, when shopping for ribbons and bows - think fabric! It will last much longer and can be used over and over again.
7. Use natural elements
This goes for gift wrapping, as well as decorating. Leaves, flowers, pinecones, fruit, and berries - whatever is found naturally in your local area - these things make beautiful additions to the tops of your low-waste-wrapped gifts, or around your house to set the holiday spirit. Bringing a little nature inside is good for the soul, and even better yet - it’s both free, and biodegradable!
8. You don’t necessarily need a ‘new’ outfit for the party season
I know, I know. We all want to look great when we get together with friends and family to celebrate the season. We’re not saying to deprive yourself of adorable clothes, but there are ways to go about it that are much better for the environment and won’t contribute to landfills. Try thrifting, swapping with a friend, or even renting clothing, instead!
9. Oh, Christmas Tree...
Depending on where you live, you might be able to rent a living christmas tree. If you decide to buy a real one, make sure you compost it or recycle it properly. Check with your local authorities to find out the best way to recycle your tree in your area. If you already have an artificial tree, or if someone you know is getting rid of one, keep using it instead of letting it go to the landfill!
Consider an alternative Christmas tree. Buy a potted plant that’s native to your area. You can decorate it similar to a Christmas tree, and then continue to enjoy it for years to come.
10. Give a Zero-Waste, Sustainable Gift!
Consider giving a gift that will help your loved one make steps toward living a more sustainable lifestyle themselves. It's the gift that keeps on giving, for them, and for the environment!
We hope you’ve found some helpful tips to help reduce your waste this holiday season. That 5 million ton number at the beginning of this article sounds intimidating, we know. But each person makes a difference. One household at a time, we can work toward creating less and less waste each holiday season.
Love, The Protea Team