The holidays are a great time for families to come together, to share quality time, and to give to those around us. I know that for many families, this means eating big meals, buying gifts for one another, and wrapping those gifts in festive paper , bows, and ribbons. Throughout the year Americans dispose of 250 million tons of trash, and during the time from Thanksgiving from New Years we generate 25% more. This is due to the extra one million tons of food, wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons that make it into the trash bin every week during the holiday months. Four million tons of trash is waste from gift-wrap and shopping bags (RecycleWorks). Waste in landfills contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, depletes energy sources, and can damage the surrounding soil, ecosystem, and pollute the air. We need to work together to cut down on the negative environmental effects of holiday cheer!
There are plenty of ways to be environmentally conscious without sacrificing your holiday traditions. All it takes is some slight modifications and consideration of your consumption and waste. In fact, a bow could be tied around the earth with the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved, if every family reused just TWO feet of their holiday trimmings (RecycleWorks.org). That’s one present worth of ribbon! Each green decision made makes a big contribution. Together, the holiday season can be a merry time for people and for the planet! The Environmental Protection Agency has provided some simple tips to make your holiday more green:
1. Wrap presents in recycled paper or newspaper, and buy smaller gifts that don’t require as much wrapping like gift certificates or tickets
2. Recycle greeting cards or send electronic cards
3. Make your own decorations! Make ornaments out of dough or old greeting cards, string popcorn to make a garland, and make potpourri out of kitchen spices.
4. Divide up food leftovers amongst guests, or donate food to a local shelter
5. Fill up your dishwasher completely before running. Try scraping food off instead of rinsing
6. Make homemade goods for gifts and package them in recyclable containers to avoid more waste
7. Buy a potted tree instead of a traditional Christmas tree that you can replant. 30 million Christmas trees end up in landfills every year! Find a recycling center or service to avoid sending it to a landfill
8. Give rechargeable batteries instead of traditional ones. This saves money and cuts down on excess, potentially hazardous waste.
9. When buying products, check the recyclability of it. Buying recyclable products encourages the manufacturers to continue the practice
1. Make sure that your gift is durable. Easily broken gifts are turned into waste faster
1. Buy Recycled products and bring your own re-useable bag when holiday shopping
Make being eco-friendly fun! Throw a decorations-making party or use stamps, paint, or anything around the house to turn a paper bag into wrapping paper! Invite your friends, include the family and spread the word!