With the holiday season upon us it’s easy to forget that this is also the time of year we become more wasteful. According to the EPA, we will produce 25% more garbage per person between Thanksgiving and the New Year- that’s 6 million tons per week or 36 to 40 million tons of MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) over the course of the holidays. With this in mind, here are some helpful hints that will help you be sustainable as well as festive:
Everyone enjoys receiving a beautifully wrapped present but what happens to the paper and ribbons after you open your gift? It goes in the garbage and then to your local landfill. Using a gift bag is more eco-friendly because it can be reused or recycled more easily than wrapping paper. If each family were to wrap 3 presents in reused paper and use 2 feet less ribbon, the paper would cover 45,000 football fields and the ribbon would amount to 38,000 miles. That would wrap the circumference of the earth with 13,000 miles of ribbon and some to spare.
Holiday cards are another tradition that produces a significant amount of waste. Americans will purchase 2.65 billion holiday cards this year, which is enough to cover a football field with a mountain of cards 10 stories high. There are a number of alternatives to keep up this tradition and be green at the same time.
- Find cards that are made from recycled paper. This will reduce the amount of virgin paper used and save countless trees. Avoid glossy cards or ones coated in plastic. They cannot be recycled.
- Send electronic holiday greeting cards (e-cards). This will save time and money, as well as paper.
- Save and recycle your cards. You can cut up some of your saved cards and use them for name tags for gifts.
However, when it comes to holiday waste, the Christmas tree must be near or at the top of the list. This year, 33 million Christmas trees will be purchased in North America. It is not that cutting down a Christmas tree is all that bad; in fact, you can compost almost your entire tree. However, it is just that there are better alternatives, like a potted tree. Potted trees give you the ability to have a real tree, grown specifically for your holiday. What is even better is that after you are done, you can plant it in your yard or donate the tree to a local environmental group, such as the National Forest Conservation Foundation.
From everyone at TerraCycle, we wish you a happy, healthy, and green holiday season.