Each year, Americans’ trash production increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, accounting for an extra six million tons of trash during the holiday season (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). And while it’s likely that the readers of this publication are ahead of the curve in greening their holidays by carpooling, avoiding paper goods, and maybe even making some Pinterest-inspired homemade gifts and wrapping paper (go you!), we thought we would share with you some of the more original ideas we’ve heard recently about how to make your holidays more eco-friendly:
- Sure, waste-free e-cards are a great alternative to paper holiday cards, but in this world of ever increasing digital interactions, there are some things that just can’t be adequately replaced. If you’re still tied to the nostalgia of the printed word, consider purchasing your cards from The Arbor Day Foundation. Not only will these cards be printed on recycled paper, but each card you purchase will plant a tree. (Pro-tip: cut up old greeting cards and re-use them as gift tags).
- Ahh, the constant debate over real vs. fake Christmas trees. In general, real trees are a more environmental approach than their made-in-China alternatives (especially if the real tree comes from a farm with a sustainability focus), but there’s an even better alternative: get a living potted tree. After the holidays, you can plant it in your yard or donate it to a local parks department (or, if you live in California or Oregon, you can rent a living tree for the holidays – delivery and pick up included).
- Reusable shopping bags have really started to grow in favor in supermarkets, but why hasn’t this prosperity spread to other types of stores? In addition to the plastic-y reusable bags you already keep in your car for the grocery store, add a couple cloth bags. They fold up into nearly nothing for easy transportation in your winter coat or purse while perusing the mall, or better yet, local downtown shops. The biggest perk of using these bags: without the store logo printed on the front, you’ll have an easier time smuggling presents past unsuspecting family members.
- Nothing creates that holiday warmth quite like a yule log. While you’re stocking the fireplace this winter, consider trying some alternatives to artificial logs and cordwood. Java Logs are made from recycled coffee grounds, and emit 78% less carbon monoxide than cordwood. Coffee not your thing? Clean Flame logs save landfills and trees by using re-purposed wax cardboard boxes that couldn’t be recycled.
- You probably know this by now, but LED lights use 90% less energy than their traditional counterparts (and are brighter, making the twinkle even more magical). When one of your old strands dies out, replace it with an LED.