Use Less During the Holidays
Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of the year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!
If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
We all want our homes to appear joyful and plentiful during the holidays, but we should not be doing it at such a cost to the environment.
Here are a few tips from the Manchester Sustainability Committee for using less while still celebrating.
- Wrapping paper is typically used once and thrown away. It often has a plastic or synthetic coating which makes it unrecyclable. Unwrap gifts carefully and save it year to year (as our grandmothers used to!) Instead of plastic tape use cord or fabric ribbon which can be saved and reused. Making your own wrapping by decorating brown paper bags or cardboard boxes with paints and stamps is a fun activity for kids. Use leftover quilting fabric tied with ribbon for a pretty and reusable wrap.
- Send holiday messages electronically or find greetings cards printed with soy-based ink on recycled paper.
- To avoid the waste incurred in packaging and shipping charges, shop local. Some of the best gifts are experiences, rather than stuff. Travel coupons, restaurant gift certificates, monetary gifts to charities in a child’s name (adopt a dolphin or a whale!); tickets to concerts or sporting events; museum memberships. Make someone you love a new playlist! Kids can design a certificate offering services: dog-walking, babysitting, cleaning the car, or household chores.
- If you buy gifts, choose local made products which don’t end up in the landfill. Candles, soap, bath products, food in ceramic or glass containers. Make up a “winter warmer” gift basket with hot chocolate, candied nuts, homemade truffles, peppermint candy canes, or fill pretty tins with home-baked goods.
It’s really OK to use less.