By MN GreenCorps member Sam Horner
The holiday season can be one of the most wonderful times of the year. It brings about more family time, lots of holiday food and cookies, and plenty of reasons to celebrate. Unfortunately, during the holiday season we use 4 million tons of gift-wrap and bags and waste production is increased by 25%. This equals out to an “extra” 1 million tons of trash produced each week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the EPA. Even though this seems like an enormous task for one person, there are ways that each individual can help reduce the amount of trash that is sent to the landfill during the holiday season.
Everyone loves to give and receive gifts during the holiday season, but we need to be cognizant of how to do this while minimizing the amount waste we produce. To get rid of gift giving all-together would be something only Ebenezer Scrooge would say, but there are ways to make this tradition more sustainable. Holiday gift wrap is used once, and many times it is thrown away into the landfill. Because of the inks and dyes on the paper, many times it cannot be recycled. Gift wrap could be reused from year to year, but sometimes it is hard to reuse it after it has been torn off of a present. Using the newspaper funnies is an easy way to remove gift wrap from the equation. Newspaper comics are brightly colored, so they will still make things look festive. The comics can be recycled, and if you receive the paper already, you will not need to go out and buy gift wrap.
Another great way to cut down on holiday waste is to refine your shopping methods. First, consider bringing a reusable bag with you when you go holiday shopping. Reusable bags aren’t just for grocery shopping! Some stores will even give you a discount if you use them. Reducing your mileage during this season is also important. Driving to the mall can be expensive, so try to get all your shopping done in one trip. Also, when driving to see the family, try carpooling with your family members. This will ensure more family time and will cut down on gas use for everyone.
To take on the task of cleaning up this earth can feel a little daunting. These sustainable habits can help to make this task more manageable. In this holiday season, instead of just thinking about your family and friends, take some time to think about what your actions are doing for our planet earth.