‘Tis the season for red and green — but there’s another kind of “green” that often gets overlooked this time of year. From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, the amount of trash tossed by Americans goes up about 25 percent, according to Stanford University. That translates to about 25 million tons of garbage.
This excess trash comes from many sources; people are eating more food, buying more presents, and even purchasing more clothes for holiday occasions and events. From shopping bags to packaging, it all creates more trash than you might expect.
Becoming aware of the problem and finding alternative solutions is the first step in the right direction. Here are seven simple things you can do this year to make your holiday season greener and more eco-friendly.
Skip the Bags
Shopping bags can quickly pile up. In fact, wrapping paper and bags account for about 4 million tons of trash each holiday season. This year, decline the store’s shopping bag offer whenever possible. Make it a practice to shop with your own reusable bags, or place items in the bag from the first store you visited. It will not only cut down on waste, but it may be easier for you to manage during your shopping trip.
Opt for Digital Greeting Cards
About 2.65 billion greeting cards get sent each holiday season, and many of them end up in the waste bin. Do your part for the planet by sending e-cards or creating your own digital greeting card. It can be a fun and personalized way to wish others happy holidays, and it cuts down on waste. If you simply can’t bear the thought of not sending out holiday cards, then avoid those with foil or glossy coatings, which cannot be recycled. Instead, look for cards made out of recycled paper.
Make Giving Your Gift
Believe it or not, as many as 60 percent of all Christmas gifts aren’t actually wanted. Avoid giving unpopular and useless gifts by making charitable donations to organizations that are important to friends and family members. It’s a great way to make them feel good while at the same time doing good for others.
Shop Eco-friendly Products
One way to cut back on waste is simply to buy products that were made with environmentally friendly ingredients, have a low carbon footprint, and come with minimal packaging.
Wrap, Reduce, Recycle
When it comes to wrapping paper, there are lots of opportunities to get creative. Wrap your gift in pre-used wrapping paper, an old poster, map, or the comics pages from the newspaper — who says it has to be adorned with foil-stamped holly berries? Have fun with the search and think outside the box (or wrapping paper roll) to make a unique presentation.
Party On … Consciously
Plastic plates and utensils often aren’t recycled, and paper napkins end up in the landfill. Use cloth napkins instead of paper, and borrow or rent plates and utensils. If you want to go the disposable route, then use biodegradable plates instead of paper or plastic.
Light It Right
Lighting up your tree can run up quite a bill if you use incandescent bulbs. Use LED lights, which consume a fraction of the energy. Also, look at other ways to decorate your tree, such as old-fashioned popcorn chains. Always remember to turn your lights off overnight or when you leave the house; it’s safer as well as more economical. You can also set a timer to automatically turn the lights on and off.
As you enjoy the holiday season, remember that CORT Furniture Rental can help you keep it green, too. Consider renting furniture instead of buying new. This gives you the flexibility to change your style and add or modify your current collection without sending your current furniture to the landfill.