Updated: Jan 31, 2022
We love the holiday season as an opportunity to meet with loved ones and dear friends. Itʻs definitely a season where we outwardly show our love and gratitude to those around us through generosity and thoughtfulness. This time is always spent doing fun holiday activities, like cookie making, gingerbread house building, wrapping presents, holiday sweaters, and the works!
But what is all this thoughtfulness and generosity really costing our planet? Have we really stopped to think about how much waste these celebrations produce? From the gift wrap to cheesy holiday decor, most of these holiday items are only one-time use and non-recyclable. This contributes to the 108 million tons of trash produced during the holiday season.
Here are 7 ways to combat all this waste and have a more sustainable holiday season:
Gift experiences. While material gifts are great, giving an experience is a good option to reduce waste and can enrich a loved one's life. There are so many experience options from annual passes to a zoo, nerf gun battles, paint parties, or cooking class. Guaranteed fun will be had by giving an experience.
Buy thrifted-items. Contribute to our circular economy by buying second items. Thrift stores, vintage shops, and FaceBook Marketplace have awesome and good quality items to explore. They are also a good place to look for seasonal decorations. Often people use these decor items one time and go with a new theme the next year so make their loss your gain.
Gift your time. This could be creating a coupon book of car washes and laundry services or it could be hosting a movie night or gingerbread house build event. It could even be as simple as scheduling a date coffee. You will find that most of your loved ones would enjoy one-to-one time with you.
Purchase sustainable products. Many people are unsure or unaware of how to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle. Consider purchasing items to get them started. It could be reusable shopping bags, bamboo utensil kits, shampoo bars, or products that use less plastic. This could be the kick-start they need to get into sustainable habits. Some sustainable businesses we love are R Planet (https://rplanetshop.com), Oneakea Bros (https://www.onekeabros.com), and Double Happyness Co. (www.esty.com/shop/DoubleHappynessCo)
Buy local or from small businesses. This is beneficial because buying locally reduces fuel and emission costs caused by shipping. Supporting our local artisans is also good for our economy. Buying from small businesses supports our fellow community members who are more likely to re-invest in our community.
Use reusable or recycled wrapping. It could be using gift wrapping made of recycled-paper or using fabric to make our presents beautiful. You can also try the age-old method of wrapping presents with newspapers. The company Wrappily has vibrant wrapping paper made from 100% recycled-paper (https://wrappily.com). We also love Lotus Wrapping Co, who provide tutorials and reusable gift wrapping fabric (www.lotuswrapping.com).
Make something. Homemade gifts can be fun and let your creative juices flow. Bonus points if you make gifts of things you already have in your home. Some of my most cherished presents have been handmade by my loved ones.
If you try one or all seven sustainable strategies, the most important thing is that you are making more conscious decisions to save our planet from unnecessary waste. One small step can make a big difference.