How to Be More Sustainable and Reduce Waste This Holiday Season – GUEST POST

For many, the holidays are often considered the most wonderful time of the year because they’re filled with delicious food, presents, and good time spent with friends and family. Although the holidays are a special time for many humans, it turns out it’s not the most wonderful season for the environment.

After all the fun and festivities, many are left dealing with an obscene amount of household waste. Whether it’s piles of shredded wrapping paper or leftovers from a holiday feast, the EPA reports that American household waste increases by over 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. To put this in perspective, this holiday excess contributes an extra one million tons of waste to our landfills every week.

It’s important that we do our part to reduce our waste this holiday season so that we can lessen the impact on our Earth. We’ve come up with four easy ways to be more sustainable and reduce your household waste this holiday season, so that you can enjoy the holiday festivities all while paying it forward to the environment.

1. Decorate with Natural Materials

When it comes to decorating your home for the holidays, it’s time to skip the tinsel, glitter, and plastic and opt for more natural materials. Natural elements like pinecones, dried berries, branches, and greenery can all bring the magic of nature to your home and transform it into a winter wonderland.

Additionally, instead of decorating with candles that are wasteful and can release harmful particulates and chemicals into the air, try filling your home with the delicious scents of dried oranges or spices using cinnamon sticks and cloves. After you’re done with them, they’re easily compostable and you also save money by not buying candles.


2. Send Holiday ECards

This year, reduce your paper waste by forgoing traditional paper holiday cards and sending a virtual card instead. Nearly 3 billion Christmas cards are sold each year in the U.S. alone, and you can do your part to help to lower this number if you send an ecard instead.

With every card that is sold, that means many are also being sent. The USPS delivers almost 15 billion pieces of mail during the holidays, and that is a lot of energy and resources poured into delivering something that may just end up in the trash. By sending virtual gifts or greetings, you can prevent more paper and packaging from ending up in our landfills.

3. Compost or Save Leftovers and Scraps

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, any holiday isn’t complete without lots of food. While everyone deserves to indulge during this season, it’s important to recognize the incredible amount of food waste that occurs during the holidays. Unfortunately, as much as 40% of our food goes from farm to table to the landfill, with U.S. households wasting an average of $1,800 worth of uneaten food.

It’s important to be mindful of our food consumption during the holidays and to put better waste management practices in place in our homes. One major way to reduce how much food waste you send to landfills is to compost. After cleaning up each meal, make sure that food waste goes into a separate container marked for composting rather than dumped in the trash. Additionally, when cooking, make sure to save the odds and ends of vegetables and aromatics like onions to freeze and use to make delicious stocks or soups later.


4. Try Sustainable Gift Wrapping

Presents are a big part of the holidays, but waste from gift wrapping doesn’t have to be. This year, explore sustainable ways to wrap gifts with repurposed or reusable materials. If you want your gifts to have a tearable quality to them, try wrapping boxes in old newspapers or paper grocery bags. If you’d like your wrapping to be a part of the gift, consider a cloth bag or learning the technique of Furoshiki wrapping or the Japanese art of fabric wrapping. As an eco-friendly gift giver, you can be happy knowing that your present had a minimal impact on the Earth.

With the holidays underway, make a commitment this year to do your part and reduce any household waste you generate. If we all combine our own individual efforts, together we can lessen the impact the holidays have on the environment while still enjoying the most wonderful time of the year.

Images courtesy of TurboTenant

GUEST AUTHOR: Pia De Los Reyes
​​Pia is a writer and content marketer with an M.A. in Communication. She specializes in writing for the eco, technology, business, and insurance spaces. Her passion for science communication and the environment started young when she interned with the National Park Service, and now she aims to inform and inspire others to advocate against climate change with their words and their actions.



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