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The holidays are a source of great cheer, but can also be particularly wasteful and unsustainable time for the environment. But don't fret! Here is a list of 10 ways you can be a more thoughtful and eco-friendly consumer this holiday season, without sacrificing the environment for winter jollies.
Presents! We love to give them. We love to get them. But most of us don't love wrapping them. And the planet especially doesn't love us wrapping them. It's estimated that nearly 4.6 million pounds of gift wrap is produced every year in the USA, and about half of that, 2.3 million pounds, ends up in our landfills.
Please note—most wrapping paper is put in the wrong bin and often becomes recycling contamination. Gift wrapping paper is only recyclable if it is not shiny, laminated, and does not have glitter, foil flakes, cellophane, or any other fancy non-paper materials attached. Tape, such as Scotch Tape, also needs to be removed from recyclable gift wrap before the paper goes in the recycling bin.
But presents have to be wrapped in something, so here are a few ideas for some sustainable gift wrap alternatives.
There is no better gift than an environmentally-friendly gift! This may mean gifting items that helps someone live more sustainably, taking the time to pick items that have been produced in a responsible, environmentally-friendly manner, or are made out of eco-friendly materials. If you are still shopping for holiday gifts, here are some good guidelines for shopping sustainably (or check out our list of 12 sustainable brands we love!).
Christmas trees have us in quite the bind! Steeped in tradition, they smell nice, are fun to decorate, and give us a place to put our presents. However, it also means every year we cut down approximately 20-30 million trees that took an average of 7 years to grow, only to keep them for a month and throw them away in January. And the pine needles get everywhere.
This year, you may want to consider going a more sustainable route, and these three alternatives will give you the best of both worlds.
By now you may have heard the somewhat horrifying statistic, American holiday lights use more electricity than some small countries do in an entire year 😱 But there are some smart ways we can reduce the impact of our twinkling fancies, and a little effort on this front can go a long way.
As you can see, being sustainable doesn't mean sacrificing tradition. No matter what you celebrate, there's always an opportunity to stop and be more mindful of the environment. As always, we seek for progress not perfection, and being more gentle on the earth is an ongoing process. Maybe you used some of these ideas for this holiday season, or maybe you'll bookmark this link and use it when preparing for your holidays next year.