Household waste increases by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. This holiday season we are being mindful of our effect on the planet and all of its precious creatures; plants, animals, insects and humans.
Give the gift of a lighter footprint to our Earth this holiday!
We are highlighting 14 ways you can reuse household items, reduce waste and recycle whenever possible for a greener, more eco-friendly Christmas.
1. Take an Inventory of Holiday Decor
Before going out and buying all new new new, get out last year’s decorations and see what can be reused. Then, make a list of the things you don’t already have, and look for them at secondhand stores. Thrift shop aisles are filled with lightly used Christmas decorations during the holidays.
We really have a lot more than we think we do. So make sure to check every cabinet, ask your friends and neighbors for anything they’re not using anymore!
The holidays are more about appreciating what we have and decorating for the season, than about trying to overdo it on the material items.
2. Sustainable Gift Wrapping Alternatives
Photo taken by Designlovefest
In the U.S. annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons! This year is all about taking away from that scary number, not adding to it. Instead of buying more wrapping paper year after year, get creative and see what you can reuse and recycle into new, awesome gift wrapping paper.
What about swapping one time use paper to multi use fabric? Or recycle an old paper bag and use scraps to make it magical!
3. Send Holiday Greetings Electronically
An estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the United States, enough to fill a football field 10 stories high, and requires the harvesting of nearly 300,000 trees! If we each sent one less card, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
Think of all the orangutans we will be helping, who’s livelihood depends on the health of the rainforest!
E-cards are a wonderful alternative that send holiday cheer without ending up in landfills.
4. DIY Holiday Cards
If you are going to send a tangible holiday card to your loved ones, make sure you use recycled paper or making your own card. Try these ideas for simple and elegant DIY Christmas cards!
5. LED Christmas Lights
LED Christmas lights are 90 percent more efficient than traditional holiday lights. LEDs also last twice as long as the standard incandescent bulbs. Keep it energy efficient! Use these efficient LED Christmas lights on your tree, on your house and in your home.
6. Put Your Lights on Timers
Set your timer to turn the lights on at dusk and leave them on until you go to bed. Leaving the lights on 24 hours a day will quadruple the energy costs, not to mention create four times the pollution as leaving them on for six hours.
7. Buy Green Gifts
Give your family and loved ones eco-friendly gifts like organic wine and fair trade gifts including fair trade chocolates, jewelry, handbags, clothing and home decor. Go even further and ask for eco-friendly gifts on your Christmas wish list.
8. Decorate with Natural Materials
Photo taken by Designlovefest
Much of marine debris consists of plastic from our homes that has ended up in the ocean. This plastic can kill and injure marine wildlife through ingestion and entanglement. Hawaiian monk seals are listed as an endangered species because of this process.
Instead of buying plastic decor for your home, we suggest keeping it natural!
Decorate with natural materials, bringing the outdoors into your home! Acorns, fallen branches, pine cones, evergreens and winter berries add autumn and winter color to the atmosphere without buying plastic or fake decorations that will ultimately end up in landfills. Check out our Christmas Pinterest board for DIY Christmas decorations.
9. Eco-Friendly Packing Materials
Styrofoam accounts for up to 25 percent of the waste in our landfills. And when it’s burned, Styrofoam releases over 90 different toxins. When mailing packages of holiday gifts to your friends and family, avoiding using styrofoam and plastic. Instead pack your boxes with recycled paper that will protect your gifts.
10. Real Trees vs. Artificial Trees
Image by Brent Flanders
It’s time to break down the ongoing debate between which has a larger carbon footprint; a real Christmas tree or an artificial one? Artificial christmas trees are made out of plastic, so when it is time to get a new one they are thrown out in landfills. Real Christmas trees are biodegradable of course, so even though you get a new one annually they aren’t damaging to the environment when you throw them out.
Additionally, because most artificial trees are made in China and shipped overseas, this increases their carbon footprint. Store cut Christmas trees bought locally cost only as much carbon as it take to drive to get one.
Nearly all cut Christmas trees were grown on tree farms, which means their stock is replenished yearly and forests aren’t depleted. Find a local Christmas tree farm that is SERF-certified; meaning it is a Socially and Environmentally Responsible Farm. These farms must take steps to protect wildlife and waterways, conserve soil and water resources and promote responsible farming practices. These farms have douglas firs, pines and sequoias that have been harvested in a sustainable manner.
11. Homemade Gifts
Image by Susy Morris
If your girlfriends, mothers, sisters and aunts are anything like mine, then they love love love their lotions, body soaps and scrubs. This year, instead of buying these gifts from stores with plastic packaging, add some extra love to the gift by making it yourself.
12. Sustainably Raised Food
The holidays are all about keeping the tummies of your loved ones fed and full with an assortment of delicious decadencies from fresh fruits and veggies to cured meats and cheeses. When buying meats for your holiday meals, keep in mind choosing to support farms that take care of the environment and the animals they raise in an ethical manner.
By supporting local, sustainable and organic farms, you are helping your local community, and ensuring that the animals you purchase were raised organically and not fed antibiotics. Animals from these farms are more likely to be raised without cruelty; chickens and turkeys having more range to roam rather than confined in pens.
By eating animal products raised on such farms you provide the healthiest choice for your family and support the farms that support healthy and ecological neighborhoods.
13. Recycle After Your Holiday Party
The EPA estimates that 75 percent of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30 percent of it! If you are hosting a holiday party this year, help your guests separate out paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and green waste by putting out a few trash bins with decorative signs designating where each material goes.
This will make it easy for every recyclable material to go in its rightful place!
14. Reuse Bows and Ribbons
Photo taken by Designlovefest
Presents are wrapped with decorative paper, colorful bows and delicate ribbon. When opening your gifts, have a bag for these large paper scraps and beautiful bows and ribbons to reuse and repurpose for next year!
The best gifts we can give to one another are simple yet sustainable actions for a green holiday. Share with us what you will do this season for a happier planet and a happier you!
Spread the knowledge! Share this info-graphic on Pinterest to educate your friends about simple solutions to contributing to a more sustainable holiday season!