While the holidays are a great time of the year, it is also important to remember that many practices we associate and carry out at this time of the year can be serious energy drains and waste creators. In fact, more household waste is created in the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s than any other time of the year. Some estimates project that this time can add around 6 million tons of added waste the the nationwide amount! But where, you may ask, is six million extra tons of waste coming from?
- Christmas Trees: Around 50 million are purchased in the U.S. alone, and most of these will end up in landfills after the holiday season is over. We must also remember that any time humans chop down trees for any purpose, we are decreasing rates of photosynthesis which can affect available oxygen and carbon dioxide storage.
- Christmas Cards: In the US, around 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold annually, which is the same amount of cards needed to fill a football field that is ten stories high.
- Christmas Gift Wrapping: Did you know that if gift givers in America made a pledge to wrap only three of their presents in reused materials they could effectively save enough paper to cover 45,000 football field?
- Waste From Food: While good food around the holidays is plentiful, the amount of this food wasted is astronomical! 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year anyways, and there is no doubting that the holidays can increase the already high amounts of food waste. Maybe that is why it is expected that around 400,000 people become sick every year from eating spoiled or old leftovers!
However, the good news is– we can still spread holiday joy and continue revered traditions while reducing overall waste and consumption!
Here are some ways you can reduce your waste!
- Reduce your use of paper and plastic shopping bags
- Try wrapping your gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper/materials (newspaper can be a great alternative!)
- Send eCards or recycled content cards
- Unplug your holiday lights during the day
- Recycle your Christmas tree
- You can buy a potted Christmas tree, and then plant it after the holidays!
- Buy gifts that will last longer
- Make your own gifts and decorations from recycled materials
- Make less food (or at least cook foods you expect will be eaten!)
- Donate extra food to a shelter or food collection organization
- Try to compost your food waste