Americans alone generate 25 million tons of garbage during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This guide can help you make a few simple changes to eliminate unnecessary waste and have a more sustainable holiday season.
Let This Christmas Be Eco- Friendly! Enjoying a more eco-friendly Christmas is a great way to give to the planet as well as our friends and family. The holiday season is a festive time to give, receive and enjoy time with loved ones, but the environmental statistics are grim.
Amerians alone generate 25 million tons of garbage during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This guide can help you make a few simple changes to eliminate unnecessary waste and have a more sustainable holiday season.
Eco-Friendly Christmas Gifts
There are many things to consider when striving to have a greener holiday season. Picking out eco-friendly Christmas gifts is a great first step. Fortunately, a sustainable gift can come in various forms.
Consider giving an experience instead of a physical present. While there are many cute objects that you can give, the receiver may not have a need for them. We all know someone who has it all or is trying to live a more minimal lifestyle after binging Marie Kondo.
Consider giving them a concert ticket, museum pass, a photoshoot or a coupon for their favourite activity such as wine tasting or bowling. Gifting experiences keeps unwanted items out of the landfill and offers a cherished memory for a loved one.
Shop Local or Carbon Offset Shipping
Physical gifts can be sustainable too. If you have a specific item in mind, take the time to shop around. See if you can buy it from a local company that sources it’s materials mindfully.
The less shipping on materials or the product itself, the smaller its carbon footprint. If you can’t shop locally, pick a store that offers carbon offsets shipping, actively supports environmental causes and uses minimal recyclable packaging.
Greener Amazon Options
Even if you shop on Amazon, you can make greener choices. You can set up Amazon Smile to donate to your favourite charity every time you shop at no cost to you. If you have Amazon Prime, you can also go into your setting and opt for more sustainable packaging on all your orders.
Finally, if you have multiple items on their way, select a day of the week for Amazon to deliver everything together in fewer packages. While Amazon is not a sustainable way to shop, it is better to do your best when possible then to strive for unattainable zero-waste perfection.
Secret Santa or White Elephant
If you are meeting with a group of friends or have a large family, buying everyone a gift can be daunting. Buying dozens of gifts is expensive as well as unsustainable. Consider organising an event where you only buy one gift.
Secret Santa allows you to shop for a specific person, so you can personalise based on their preferences. With White Elephant you buy a gift that anyone will love and people can steal gifts from one another until everyone has something they truly want.
A Zero-Waste Gift
There are many sustainable items that make great gifts. Consider a traditional and less-wasteful shaving kit or a cute reusable coffee tumbler. If you want to gift soap or bath bombs, consider companies such as Lush that sell them in reusable and beautiful containers.
There are many zero-waste gifts that not only encourage a greener lifestyle but they are also practical and beautiful. There are even subscriptions for coffee, lifestyle products, etc that are customisable and eco-friendly.
Earth911 estimates that approximately 4.6 million lbs (over 2 million kgs) of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. alone each year. Half of this ends up in the landfill. Despite popular belief, when paper ends up in the landfill, it doesn’t always decompose.
The rubbish is so compressed that there is little oxygen to allow for the paper to break down, making it detrimental to the environment. Fortunately, there are many creative ways to wrap your gifts that won’t hurt the planet.
Reusable Fabric Wrap
One of the prettiest eco-friendly ways to wrap a gift is using a reusable fabric wrap. Wrappr is a company that embraces the Japanese tradition of furoshiki fabric wraps. It is even greener if you find something at home, like a scarf you never wear anymore instead of buying new wrapping fabric.
You can also consider hitting up a local second-hand store for fabrics to use. It may seem a little awkward, but you can always ask the person you gave it to if they plan on reusing it. They may be relieved to just hand it back for you for future use.
Use What You Have
We all have something lying around the house that can be used to wrap gifts. It can be paper lining from something you bought, or a magazine that you no longer want to read. Consider asking neighbours or family to hold on to these items for you if you don’t have enough.
You can get really creative and use newspapers or even used chip bags that are generally silver on the inside. My father-in-law once gave me a gift in an old stocking that had a few small holes in it. You can also use a faded t-shirt and cut a fringe from every side to tie it up in a cute way all around the edges. The possibilities are endless.
Reusable Shopping Bags
A lot of stores around the world are hopping on the sustainability train. Today you can buy beautifully designed reusable shopping bags from various companies.
While it’s not the greenest option, consider giving your gift in a bag that your loved one can reuse in multiple ways. Buying higher quality gift bags can also be a great option because many people are already in the habit of keeping these and reusing them in the future.
This is way better than wrapping paper that you know will be immediately trashed.
Giving and receiving gifts is one of the many joys that come with the holiday season. Unfortunately, Christmas has become a wasteful holiday as single-use plastics have polluted our lives. Let’s make this Christmas special, let’s make it an eco-friendly Christmas.
However, we can all make conscious decisions to do better and make a change. Consider buying greener gifts by giving experiences over physical items, organising a Secret Santa event and shopping from local companies or those that actively give back.
When wrapping, look around your home for fabrics, newspaper and other materials that will make your gift more sustainable as well as unique.
Are you going to have eco-friendly Christmas?
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