When many people think about Christmas, they think of a stack of gifts piled under the holiday tree. It’s easy to forget about the waste generated, mostly in the form of gift wrap and product packaging.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we generate 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That translates into roughly one million extra tons! The amount of energy used also tends to increase, mainly due to electric lights and decorations. Some of this increased energy usage is also related to the fuel used for travel purposes.
There’s no need to panic, though. Here are a few things you can do to fight back against the problem of Christmas waste. It really isn’t that difficult.
Get Creative with Gifts
Gift wrap and product packaging really add up over the holiday season. Not every family recycles all of this used paper and plastic once Christmas morning is just a memory. Worse yet, some wrapping paper isn’t recyclable at all.
To avoid creating even more clutter, try to find gifts that utilize as little packaging as possible. You might consider gift cards or tickets to a concert or event. If you do plan to give a gift that needs to be wrapped, try to reuse old material rather than buying wrapping paper. Get creative! Use old newspapers, paper grocery bags, or fabric. Or make a wrapper using maps, or the pages of an old magazine or book.
Consider an Artificial Tree
For many families, picking out, chopping down and decorating a new tree every Christmas is a key part of the holiday tradition. But, this also means throwing away another tree each year. Consider buying an artificial tree instead. Not only will this save a tree, but it will also keep them from accumulating in landfills. Since you’ll probably end up using the same artificial tree every year, it means you can cross “tree shopping” off of your holiday to-do list for years to come.
Avoid Disposable Dishes
No one likes taking care of dirty dishes, especially after a holiday party. The solution for many is to buy disposable plates, cups, and silverware that don’t need to be washed after the meal. But, using traditional dishes and cutlery cuts down on much of the garbage that is generated by a dinner party.
If washable dishes aren’t an option, make sure to find disposable dishes that are recyclable. You may also want to put out a clearly-marked bin so that your guests don’t throw these dishes in the garbage by mistake.
Use Less Power for Lighting
Christmas lighting has come a long way. These days, you can get energy-efficient LED lighting both for outside use and on the tree. These lights come in a variety of styles and colors and use much less energy than traditional lighting. It’s best to put any lights on a timer or only turn them on when someone will be around to enjoy them.
Keeping things “green” around Christmas is just as easy as it is any time of the year. Do what you can to reduce the number of consumable materials you use; reuse items like plates rather than buying disposable ones, and recycle anything that you can rather than throwing it away.
It’ll take a bit of effort, but incorporating these habits into your Christmas plans allows you to help the planet while you celebrate peace on Earth. What could be better than that?