Many people have developed some wonderful holiday traditions with their families. However, many of those holiday traditions are not very eco-friendly and create a lot of waste. It has been estimated that we create an extra 25% more trash during the holiday season than any other time of year, which equates to about 25 million extra tons of garbage going to our landfills.
On our blog about green apartment living, we always stress the need to reduce, reuse and recycle, and the holidays are no exception. You can get by with less, live what you have and repurpose many items around the house this holiday season. Try some of these ideas and see if they help you find that green holiday spirit:
- Greeting cards: There are 2.65 billion holiday cards sold each year in the U.S. If every one of us sent only one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. You can make your own cards from anything, like magazines, old cards and product packaging. And not only will they be more unique and memorable, you’ll save money and reduce a lot of waste. If you decide to buy a card, consider one made from recycled paper or paper-free card or consider sending an e-card (or no paper at all – just an email).
- Christmas tree: Try a potted tree this year and plant it after the holidays or keep it in the pot and re-decorate it every holiday season. About 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year, and a majority end up in the landfill. If you decide to buy a cut tree, find a place in your area that will recycle it into mulch.
- Gift wrap: Think of how much gift wrap gets thrown away each year. Use recycled or reused wrapping paper, boxes and gift bags or make your own from newspapers and magazines. Also, save or recycle any wrapping paper for next season. Try gifts that require little or no wrapping paper, like gift cards or gift certificates, magazine subscriptions, tickets to shows or concerts, health club memberships or paid vacations.
- Decorations: You can make your own decorations by recycling many different materials and items from around the house. There are plenty of decorating ideas to be found on the Internet, but be creative and festive and use a lot of glue. Better yet, make them edible, and no one will go away hungry.
- Handmade gifts: If you get good at creating homemade decorations, make even more and give them as gifts. Everyone loves cookies and baked goods, but be sure to wrap them in reusable or recyclable containers or packages.
- Holiday parties: Avoid disposable products like paper plates, plastic tableware and disposable cups. Even though it requires more time to clean up, when you use ceramic plates, silverware and drinking glasses, the event always seems more special.
- Donate older items: Before you fill your apartment home with new toys and other “stuff”, donate old items to your favorite charities. You can organize toy swaps with other families or local organizations, not to mention yard sales or eBay.
If you are reading this blog, you must want to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Our hope is that you are creative and successful with some of these holiday ideas (and some of your own), and you set a good example for others to follow. If you have children, this is a great opportunity to show them how to waste less and reuse more during this time of year. They will learn to live green and save some green (in their wallet) at the same time.
Enjoy the season with your friends and families and have a safe and happy holidays!