Ahh, the holidays! A time for family, friends, shopping, and feasting. Some would argue it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but what’s not so wonderful is the increased waste and energy use. From packaging and containers to shipping, as well as the gifts themselves, our holiday celebrations have an impact on our environment. Below, BGV’s Sustainability team shares their top 5 tips to help you reduce your footprint this holiday season!
- Purchase local. Every dollar you spend at a local shop instead of online goes directly back into your community. When you shop local, you also cut back on all the packaging and carbon emissions from shipping an item. A 2018 study shared that out of the 80,000 tons of containers in the US a year, only about 30,000 tons of that gets put in the recycling bin – that’s less than half! If you decide to support your favorite e-commerce site, be sure to properly recycle any cardboard and packaging at the end of its life.
- Get creative when it comes to wrapping your gifts. Old newspapers or paper grocery bags are simple and sustainable ways to wrap a gift, and both are recyclable. You can also draw on paper grocery bags, which is a great way for kids to create for family and friends. If you choose to use wrapping paper, opt for a brand that is made from recycled content. Earth Hero, an eco-friendly online marketplace, has multiple recycled gift paper options. While most wrapping paper is recyclable, avoid sparkly or foil-like paper because those must go in the trash. Don’t forget to collect all your wrapping paper after opening all your gifts and put it in your single stream or paper recycling bin.
- Buy meaningful or useful gifts. Most purchases made for holiday gifts (especially electronics) are thrown away within one year. Do you have an unused item in your home that might make a good gift? Consider gifting that, too! You can also gift an experience or to donate to a loved one’s favorite non-profit. These gifts can’t be thrown away and are often much more meaningful.
- Be mindful with your decorations! If you have the space for it, consider storing your decorations year after year to reduce spending money and waste. If you want to revamp your collection, think about donating old decorations to local non-profits or thrift stores. Sometimes, even schools will take them for props. One easy way to save energy on decorations is to purchase LED string lights for their energy efficiency and to put them on timers, making sure lights aren’t on during the day when nobody can see them. Lowes has a string light recycling program, so keep that in mind when it’s time to retire your old tree lights.
- Finally, compost! We are spoiled with the most delicious food around the holidays, but often, we make too much. One way you can prevent food waste is by sending your family and friends home with delicious leftovers. You can have everyone bring their own Tupperware container to fill at the end of the meal! If you’re at your wits end with leftovers, you can compost them. Food waste is the biggest emitter of methane when sent to the landfill. By keeping your leftovers out of the landfill and composting instead, you are significantly reducing your carbon footprint. Summit County offers free food scrap recycling through High Country Conservation Center – sign up today to receive a free compost bin to use in your home.
Do you have other tips and tricks you use to make your holidays sustainable or any sustainability questions? We’d love to hear from you! Shoot our Sustainability and Recycling Manager, Emily Kimmel, an email at email@example.com.