How to Recycle This Holiday

10 Ways to Stay Sustainable During the Holiday Season

‘Tis the season…

…to consider the environmental impacts associated with holiday dinners, Christmas decorations, and the acts of gift giving and receiving!

From gift-wrap to colorful string lights to food, the holiday season is one during which the most waste is produced. Though almost 90% of Americans believe holidays should be less focused on gifts and more so on spending time with loved ones, this does not stop people from creating trash. In fact, Americans generate 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, and there are many other environmental impacts associated with the holiday season.

We’re not trying to put a damper on the most wonderful time of the year; we’re just trying to foster some environmental consciousness by drawing attention to the harmfulness of increased consumption. Consider the following tips to minimize your impact and increase your sustainability during the holiday season!

1. Make your gatherings zero-waste

Make your gatherings zero-waste by using real, reusable dishes and ditching disposable dishes and cutlery. It may be inconvenient in the short-run but you will be decreasing landfill waste, which makes it worth it in the long-run. If you do choose to use disposables, look for those that are biodegradable, recyclable, or made with a high recycled paper content.

2. Look for recycled-content products and buy recycled greeting cards

Also remember to recycle any paper cards you receive if you decide not to keep them.

3. Rethink mailing cards

Mail is fun and cute, BUT think about this fact: approximately 1.5 billion cards are mailed over the holiday season in the U.S. alone, requiring 300,000 new trees to be harvested every year. Save some trees and greenhouse gas emissions by sending out e-cards or calling people over the phone.

4. Instead of using wrapping paper, get creative

Instead of buying rolls and rolls of new wrapping paper, consider wrapping gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper. Get creative by wrapping them up in newspaper, maps, posters, etc. It’ll provide a distinctive, personalized touch! Another creative way to give a gift is by putting it in a reusable bag. The bag may even count as part of the gift; the receiver can save it and use it in the future. Reduce waste by skipping out on unnecessary tissue papers, bows and ribbons.

5.  Consider products’ durability when searching for gifts

Buying a higher quality gift can assure you that your money is well spent. The more durable and long-lasting a gift is the less likely it is to end up in a landfill before next Christmas.

6. Consider alternatives to cutting down and disposing of trees

You can buy a potted tree and plant it once the holidays are over which could provide a fun family activity. Or, you can by a reusable plastic tree. This’ll save trees from being cut down, plus you’ll save money on trees for the next few years. If you do choose to use a real tree, please make sure to dispose of it correctly! Most trash companies pick up trees after the holidays and they can “recycle” trees by turning them into mulch.Fun fact: 33 million live holiday trees are sold in the U.S. annually. 

7. Think about your food

When shopping for groceries, think about where your food is coming from. Perhaps consider serving less meat, or buying chicken and turkey instead of beef and lamb. Look for meat that is free-range, locally raised, and USDA organic. Leftovers are probably unavoidable – but do your best to eat everything before it goes bad!



8. Go LED on holiday lights

As compared to incandescent lights, LED lights last much longer, decrease energy use, and lower your energy bill. Don’t forget to properly dispose of old lights.

9. Remember to turn off and unplug lights during the day

They really aren’t that noticeable when it’s still light out, plus it’s kind of a waste of energy and money.

10. Give battery chargers along with electronic gifts

If you’re giving an electronic gift, consider buying rechargeable batteries and a battery charger to accompany it. It shows you put a little extra thought into the gift and reflects your concern for sustainability.

It is our hope that some of these tips will serve you well during the holiday season. We wish everyone a sustainable Christmas and a green New Year!