How to be sustainable during the holiday season
The best sustainability tips for those of us dreaming of a green Christmas.
For most people, the end of the year comes as a bit of a relief. Individuals and families look toward those last couple weeks of December with heavy anticipation of taking some well-earned time off, and celebrating the season with gifts for their loved ones.
With all the gift giving, however, and especially coming off the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can imagine that the holidays don’t quite rank as one of our best seasons when it comes to being sustainable. The prevalence of online shopping means that our garbage and recycling bins will be overstuffed with cardboard boxes and plastic bubble wrap. As people get new products in, they’ll also inevitably clean house and look for what to get rid of. Holiday decor is also often bought and used on a one-time basis. All of these practices mean that the volume of trash going into the landfill will be more than normal — which is already a lot!
Here at LifeMade, we’re always looking for more ways to be mindful about our consumption habits so that we can do our part in saving the planet. This holiday season, we’ve pulled together some great ideas for you to consider to cut down on waste without sacrificing all the joy that comes with the holidays.
The biggest holiday landfill culprit
The biggest landfill contributor around the holidays is wrapping paper, but did you know that this actually can’t be recycled? Even though it’s labeled as paper, the glossiness and glitter on wrapping paper makes most of it unusable and thus ends up going to the landfill rather than yielding a second life.
But if we reuse wrapping paper for three gifts or more, the paper saved would cover 45,000 football fields. This is helpful to keep in mind if you do get gifts that are wrapped nicely with glittery paper--just do your best to preserve its shape and use it the next year around! And if you do come across simple paper wrapping, you can either reuse or recycle — we’d of course recommend for you to reuse though.
Tips and tricks for cutting down on waste
As you’re recycling things, always be sure to take all the strings, tape, and other bits and bobs off so that you’re doing what you can to divert waste into the right streams. This includes wrapping paper but also cardboard boxes as well.
In addition to diverting waste from the landfill, you can also consider where to cut down on your consumption habits to avoid needing to divert in the first place! Some of the tricks that we employ include:
Wrapping paper: Instead of buying new wrapping paper, which will inevitably be thrown out, try recycled gift wrap by repurposing the insides of brown grocery bags, old newspapers, or old posters that you don’t want anymore.
Shop locally: Shop locally and from small businesses to give your community a boost and also cut down on the cardboard boxes and packaging materials that you’re getting. Keep in mind that shopping in person can lead to impulse buys of things you don’t need though! So be sure to stick to your list and remember to buy things that can be used over a long period of time.
Shipping packages: If you are getting things shipped, consider ordering everything from one store and checking to see if the company can ship everything out at once, rather than rushing shipping and getting everything sent separately in its own box. You can also get things shipped directly to the gift receiver to take advantage of existing shipping infrastructure so you don’t have to drive your car around dropping things off.
E-gifts: Of course, you can also send people an e-gift card to a grocery store or other frequently visited establishment this year, or think of other fun and meaningful gifts such as membership to a museum, donation to a charity, or ‘adopt an animal’ gifts for families with children.
Living Christmas tree: This may seem counter-intuitive, but buy a living tree instead of a fake one! The carbon footprint of an artificial tree is many times more than that of a living tree — especially if it’s locally sourced and disposed of properly. Most municipal waste management companies have special tree-removal services that ensure that every bit of the tree is used up after it’s been sitting in your home so this is generally the way to go. A quick Google search can help you find local Christmas trees in your area and of course, stores like the Home Depot and Lowe’s are always a great option.
Holiday cards: Make your own holiday cards! Or, if you’re less crafty or don’t have the time, check out some from small businesses that use recycled paper. Companies like Paper Culture print all their cards on 100% post-consumer recycled paper and they also plant a tree with every order!
Enjoying the holidays in the middle of a pandemic
It’s a strange time to be celebrating family and community when so many of us are unable to physically be close to one another. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be thankful for those in your life! Remember that the CDC recommends that if you are getting together, to do it outdoors, so gather in a backyard or a park if you must see people in person.
When you do so, to adhere to health and safety as well as sustainability concerns, use real plates, cups, and cutlery to minimize the amount of trash being sent to the landfill. Otherwise, try to use paper plates and cups and biodegradable products such as LifeMade’s Earth-friendly straws, as well as recycled products like Earth-in-mind cutlery to cut down on waste.
In terms of your meals, you can also incorporate more plant-based options to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to the feed and water needed to raise farm animals for consumers. There are some great vegan or vegetarian recipes online that definitely don’t sacrifice on taste! We tried this vegan mac and cheese recipe recently and it was a fan favorite.
Looking ahead to the new year
2021 will feel remarkably like 2020, and despite everything that’s happened this year we are definitely thankful for one another, our local communities, and the planet that we live on. As we continue to fight the pandemic as a collective, we should appreciate the planet that we live on that continues to give us so much. January may be the time to make new resolutions, but we’re committing to being sustainable every day, no matter what time of the year it is. Hopefully these tips will help you on your journey to being a more mindful and conscientious consumer!
Life. Made Better.
LifeMade is all about making life better through sustainable innovation and product experiences. Every step we take in this direction brings us closer to our vision of a no-compromise future — one where everyone has access to disposable products that are as good for the earth as they are convenient and enjoyable to use. As pioneers in our industry with a century’s worth of experience, it’s our responsibility to harness what we do best — materials innovation and production — for a better world. We’re inspired by the families that enjoy our products and committed to meaningful change.