The holidays are a wonderful time filled with loved ones and cheer. However, Americans produce 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This equates to a staggering additional one million tons of waste per week! Fortunately, more companies and people are incorporating sustainability, which makes having a more eco-friendly holiday easier. There are many ways that families can embrace sustainability and reduce their waste during the holidays.
Here are some holiday tips and tricks to embrace sustainability in the upcoming season.
Skip the Foil Gift Wrap
Sure, the foil and decorated gift wrap can look fancy, but these mass-produced rolls are made of unsustainable materials that are far from recyclable. According to an estimate by Earth911, around 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper are produced each year in the United States. About half of this wrapping paper, or 2.3 million pounds, is in landfills.
Of course, it is pretty unlikely that anyone is reusing their wrapping either, being that it is torn off of the gifts. Fortunately, there are many options for more sustainable wrapping options, such as:
- Scarves, bandanas, or other cloth items (even better, these could be part of the gift!)
- Recycled cloth bags
- White or brown craft paper
- Unused paper bags
- Eco-friendly bags
- And more
You could even forgo wrapping and hide the gifts for children and loved ones to find. There are also companies nowadays that make recyclable and compostable wrapping paper, such as Wrappily.
What’s More Sustainable: Artificial or Live Christmas Trees?
Many people may think an artificial tree would be more sustainable, as they last for years. Unfortunately, this is not the case. An artificial tree would have to be kept for at least ten years to have a similar carbon footprint as getting a live tree each year.
Additionally, artificial trees are made from non-renewable plastics that use a lot of fossil fuels to manufacture, and they are often coated in flame retardant to help prevent fires. These retardants are packed with horrible chemicals that are terrible to breathe in.
Getting a live tree does take a little more work and cleanup sometimes, but they certainly make up for it in sustainability. So, reduce the footprint further by purchasing a locally grown tree and mulching it up after Christmas.
Sustainable Fashion Gifts
The fashion industry is one of the worst culprits concerning pollution and waste. Many of the clothes manufactured in fast fashion and other parts of the industry are made of plastic and synthetic materials that cannot be recycled or take far too long to break down.
On the bright side, sustainable fashion options exist, such as bamboo clothing. Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on the planet, and it can be harvested multiple times. Moreover, bamboo produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than other types of trees.