It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but also the most wasteful time of the year too. In the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's, American households generate 25% more waste. That is about 1 million extra tons of trash each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
As an environmentally conscious company we are keen to reduce our consumption and keep waste to a minimum. If you are ready to join us and ditch the food, gift, and decor waste this year, we’ve got you covered with these 10 waste-free Christmas tips.
Instead of buying more presents for people really consider what you are buying and the impact it has on our environment in terms of manufacturing, packaging and lifespan. Consider buying an experience gift such as concert tickets, short breaks away or a gift voucher. Any gifts you do buy try to choose the sustainable option, while being conscious of the products carbon footprint.
Over the festive season we often over estimate how much food we really need. According to The Guardian, over 50% of the food produced in the US is wasted, 60 million tonnes worth at a value of €160 billion. That is why it is critical that we reduce food waste where possible, stock up on bags and send leftovers home with the guests or freeze the food and make other meals from it. It is also important to consider how many miles your dinner has travelled to get to you. Buying local and in season produce will ensure carbon emissions are kept to a minimum.
At least 50,000 trees are chopped down each year to make our wrapping paper and bags for the festive season. When it comes to eco-friendly gift wrapping, kraft paper — either brown or white — is your best bet, whereas wrapping paper that is laminated or has glitter, sequins or other textured embellishments is not recyclable.
Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States with approximately 1.3 billion cards sent annually. Cut down on the waste simply by either sending e-cards, buying cards made from recycled paper or make your own festive cards from materials you already have in the house.
30 million real Christmas trees are sold each year in the United States with the majority being sent to the landfill which produces methane gas that according to the Carbon Trust is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So, it is essential that it is recycled properly to make the least negative impact. If you would prefer to buy an artificial tree, try picking up a second hand one rather than buying brand new to reduce new plastic coming into our economy.
Satellite measurements show that U.S. cities shine 20 percent to 50 percent brighter between Thanksgiving and New Year. LEDs cost more up front than incandescent lights, but they last a lot longer, use significantly less energy and are safer, too—the last thing you want is bulbs getting hot against a flammable Christmas tree!
Decorations are another considerable contributor to waste you generate over the festive season. You can reduce them as much as possible by avoiding plastic and glitter, and decorate consciously. Natural decorations are plastic-free and biodegradable. See what you can gather outside, such as holly sprigs, pine cones, oranges, and cinnamon sticks, that not only smell great but also look festive.
North Americans throw away roughly 81 pounds of textiles a year per person. That's more than 26 billion pounds heading into landfills each year across the U.S. and Canada alone. Many of us have succumbed to the fast-fashion habit of buying a new dress for every occasion. Try to be more cautious of your clothing selections this Christmas, by recycling a party outfit you already own with new accessories, ask to borrow a friend's dress, or even buy something second hand or vintage.
Even if you’re hosting larger numbers try to avoid using disposable tableware where possible. Shop around in charity shops for pre-loved plates and cutlery if you don’t want to use your finest table wear. You could even choose cotton or linen reusable napkins that can be machine washed afterwards. If disposables are essential, opt for bamboo plates and cutlery which are eco-friendly, biodegradable, and compostable.
As the joyous occasion comes to an end, there’s just one thing left to do - clean up. Of course, not all cleaning products are safe for you or the planet. Beyond waste, the chemicals and toxins we wash down the drain can contaminate our earth. Swap your paper towels for compostable dishcloths that are made from plants and are perfect for wiping down surfaces. When it comes to trash, consider setting up a bin station to make proper waste disposal simple and easy for you and your guests.
These are just a few top tips for a waste-free holiday, but there are so many more out there. If we all do our part at reducing our waste just a little this season, together we can have a massive impact!