The holidays are a time for celebrating. Unfortunately, many of these celebrations lead to waste. Stanford University reports that 25% more trash is thrown away during the holiday season the spans from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
This waste, whether it’s food waste or plastic, is not necessary. There are plenty of ways to celebrate this holiday season to its fullest, without having a negative impact on our natural world. To help you have a more sustainable holiday this year, ApartmentGuide has 5+ tips for reducing waste during your holiday celebrations.
1. Decorate Mindfully by Using Natural Materials
We’ve all been guilty of buying into the latest decor trend. This could be a new sparkly ornament set or a sign to welcome your guests in the entryway. There’s no need to stop decorating altogether, but it’s important to be mindful of what materials you’re using. Try to decorate with more natural items or repurposing older decorations this year. Be sure you store your decor to use next year as well. The less decor that is ending up in landfills at the end of the season, the better!
2. Make a Sustainable Tree Choice
If you are decorating a tree this year, be sure you are making the most sustainable choice as well as keeping in mind what’s safe for your pet. There are four options when it comes to trees.
First, you could buy a live tree and send it to the landfill when you’re done. This is the least sustainable option and is not recommended. The second option is to purchase a live tree, enjoy the cheer it brings to your home and properly recycle it after the season. You could find a local recycler that takes trees or chop it up to use as wood chips in your yard. Recycling your live tree will cut its carbon emissions by 25%!
The third option is to purchase an artificial tree. While on the surface, this might not seem like a sustainable option because it’s plastic, if you reuse this artificial tree for 12 years it has fewer carbon emissions than recycling a live tree.
The last and most sustainable option would be to buy a live tree in a pot. This might not be a traditional Christmas tree, but you can still decorate it! Find a variety of tree that thrives in your climate. Once the season is over, keep it to decorate the home or plant it in the yard.
3. Create Smart Lighting Habits
What is the holiday season without colorful lights? Unfortunately, these lights lead to excess electricity use. The U.S. uses more electricity during the month of December than some countries use all year.
To avoid a high electricity bill and reduce your impact on the environment, try making smart lighting decisions. Turn your lights off when you are not home or put them on a timer if you are prone to forgetting. Try swapping your incandescent bulbs for LED lights to reduce the energy they are using. Lastly, if you want to try removing your lights altogether this year, make festive strings of popcorn and cranberry garlands instead.
4. Be Mindful When Meal Prepping
160 billion pounds of food enters the U.S. landfills each year. This wasted food amounts to $165 billion. Save money and reduce this waste by being more mindful when you meal prep this year. Get a count of who is coming to your holiday party ahead of time and plan the meal accordingly. Use small plates so people don’t over-serve themselves – they can always go back for seconds! Send any leftovers home with your guests in reusable containers. Recycle and compost as much as you can.
5. Intentionally Gift
This tends to be a season of consumerism. The National Retail Federation predicts that consumers will spend an average of $1,047.83 this holiday season. With so much money being invested in gifts, be sure you are making sustainable choices. Try purchasing an experience for someone rather than an item that will end up in a landfill in a few years. Other intentional gifts include tickets to a show, a membership, annual pass to a state or national park or donating to a charity of their choice.
For more tips and tricks, read through this full infographic on reducing waste this holiday season.