The holidays are filled with merriment and joy, but they can also be filled with a whole lot of garbage. In fact, the average American household produces 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. This increase accounts for 50 BILLION pounds of extra waste in landfills every year according to Stanford.
That means that each week 1 million extra tons of garbage is thrown away (on top of the over 13 billion pounds ALREADY generated each week in the U.S.)
It’s safe to say that on top of the already prolific waste issue, our holiday cheer isn’t doing our environment any favors. So, what can we do to reduce this mountain of garbage that our beloved holiday traditions generate?
Fortunately, we have created a complete guide to make your Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Festivous, etc. waste-free.
Zero Waste Wrapping Paper Ideas
If every family in the United States use reusable materials for just three presents, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields, and there are so many creative ways to make beautiful packages with none of the waste!
- Use your paper grocery bags as wrapping paper! For a tutorial on how to reuse those leftover paper shopping bags as wrapping paper click here.
- Reuse magazine pages
- Repurpose your newspaper (use the comic section for an added laugh!)
- Continue using the same tins and boxes year after year
- Get crafty with old cloth to make reusable cloth wrapping paper!
Eco-Friendly Holiday Decorations
We all want to deck the halls, but it is easy to overdo it with plastic Santa figurines or that whimsical Mensch on a Bench. With the overload of flash sales and glittery displays, our consumerist culture is doing everything it can to pressure you into buying a bunch of junk you don’t need under the guise that it is an essential part of the season (Spoiler alert: it isn’t) and it is essential that we all be mindful of what we purchase and keep in mind the tried and true motto of zero-waste culture “I don’t need that.”
That being said… no one wants to be a scrooge over the holidays. So, here are some tips on how to decorate with the Earth in mind!
- Use natural materials
From festive fruits, berries and veggies for centerpieces to natural branches for garland, Mother Earth has given us some of the most spectacular décor that can be used in the home and out.
- Repurpose and Reuse!
Whether it is making snowflakes from your junk mail or making your own mosaic menorah out of the broken glass from your wedding, we have objects all around us that can be turned into something beautiful for the holidays!
- Buy used
Thrift stores and resale sites are your best friend for holiday décor. This time of year, the internet and stores are filled with decorations that could make the perfect addition to your furnishings. These stores are also a great place to send the decorations you are sick of (or that were given to you by that family member that has horrible taste, let’s be honest, we all have one) instead of throwing them away.
Zero Waste and Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas
Now let’s get to the best part about the holidays-giving! With zero-waste and eco-friendly products on the rise, now it is easier than ever to give your loved ones a gift that they will love with our Earth in mind! Here are some of our favorites for holiday shopping.
This bath and beauty line based in Texas delivers 100% natural, ethically sourced, vegan, cruelty-free products in refillable or compostable packaging! They have just about anything you could need for a wonderful zero-waste pampering kit for the self-care aficionado in your life.
Whether you are looking for a present for yourself or someone on your list, Zero Waste Cartel has almost everything you could want or need. From reusable paper-towels to toiletries, to biodegradable dog poop bags- everything is guaranteed plastic-free, ethically sourced and every order plants a tree!
Denim is one of the most environmentally damaging materials, but Re/Done is dedicated to lessening that impact. The company takes old jeans and restyles them by hand without any harsh chemicals. The end product is an upcycled modern jean with a vintage feel.
If you are looking for athleisure wear, look no further. This company specializes in bright and insanely comfortable leggings and bras made from recycled materials (mostly bottles and fishing nets). Sizes range from XXS to 6XL so it is guaranteed that you will find something that is the right fit for anyone on your list!
Homemade baked goods
The eco-friendliest product is the one you don’t buy. Consider making a tray of special baked goods. To make your treats 100% waste-free purchase your flour, sugar and other ingredients from the bulk bins at the grocery store!
Want a gift that will keep on giving? Support the Refill revolution! The technology exists that will allow you to refill your soaps, lotions and detergents in your favorite retail store- but big business doesn’t think people like you want sustainable options. By signing our petition, you will add your voice to tens of thousands that are demanding retailers to step up and do their part. It is the easiest holiday present you will give this year… and did we mention it’s free?