The holiday season is a time for family, friends, charity, and a tremendous amount of waste.
The amount of waste thrown out during the holiday season is abysmal. Between the wrapping paper and packaging put in the bin this Christmas consider your more eco-conscious friends this year and make some more conscientious purchases.
Cut Back on the Gift Wrap and Bows
This might seem the most obvious, but it’s also one of the more important items on this list. Glossy wrapping paper, bows and ribbons are not recyclable, and mixing them into your recycling bin with paper and cardboard makes a mess of the recycling process.
If you can’t resist wrapping up your presents, USA Today recommends saving your bows for reuse (and trashing the ones that are truly unusable), buying plain wrapping paper (no glitter, metallic finish, etc.), which is recyclable, or reusable gift bags, and forgoing ribbon all together (unless you reuse it). Another thing to note: If your Christmas cards are decorated with glitter, embossed or printed on shiny photo paper, you can’t recycle them.
One tip: You can tear the card to recycle at least a portion of it. Look for recyclable cards yourself, or send e-cards.
Don’t Give the Gift of Plastic
So many items are wrapped in plastic, which we could all cut back on consuming. Rather than giving your child a new toy, for example, or your spouse a new kitchen utensil encased in plastic packaging, try self-contained gifts like a candle or book. And if you’re giving a gift card, opt for cash or a paper version instead of a plastic card.
One other thing to keep in mind: Batteries are an environmental scourge. Try to avoid buying presents that require them; if you do, gift rechargeable batteries with the present.
Do Give the Gift of Experience/Service
Rather than buying another plastic toy, synthetic sweater or tech gadget, consider giving your loved ones and friends services and experiences. That could be a spa day, music lessons, an annual pass to a state park, a bike-share membership, a garden plot in a community garden, personalised coupons, etc. Maybe you can show your grandpa how to use FaceTime and schedule weekly calls, or Grandma how to download photos and albums onto her phone.
Don’t Order From Amazon
Having things shipped from Amazon to your door is easy, but it’s also terrible for the environment. Reports BuzzFeed:
Expedited shipping means your packages may not be as consolidated as they could be, leading to more cars and trucks required to deliver them, and an increase in packaging waste, which researchers have found is adding more congestion to our cities, pollutants to our air, and cardboard to our landfills.
But if you do, try to make all of your purchases at one time and select frustration-free packaging if possible. Per the store’s site, “Amazon Certified Frustration-Free Packaging is recyclable and comes without excess packaging materials.” At the very least, opt out of two-day shipping (which means, yes, no last-minute shopping this year).
Take a Reusable Bag to the Grocery Store
If you do in-person shopping this holiday season, take a few totes with you or a larger reusable bag to haul your gifts around, rather than the store’s paper or plastic. It’s a small tip, but will make a difference. If you do use the store’s paper bags, consider fashioning wrapping paper out of them.
Recycle Your Cardboard
Chances are, you’re not going to go completely green this holiday season. And so one of the more important things you can do is recycle the cardboard boxes and wrapping paper you do use, rather than throwing it all in the trash. Cardboard, in particular, is actually one of the easier materials to recycle, assuming it makes it in your bin, broken down flat.