Celebrating the holidays more consciously and sustainably is important. It brings back the mindfulness intended for this season and lets go of all the overconsumption that comes with it. While decorating, gift-giving, and making staple holiday meals are some of the traditions most look forward to, they can also be extremely wasteful. In fact, Americans throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day than any other time of year. That extra waste amounts to 25 million tons or about 1 million extra tons per week! Let’s change this.
Deck the halls with natural materials
Don’t get sucked into buying the newest trinkets. Instead, opt for natural materials that can be foraged around your home and composted afterward – greenery, berries, pinecones, and more! Bonus: do you have some old oranges lying around? Save them from being thrown into a landfill – slice them up, dry them in the oven, and set them aside for garland around your home.
Purchase gifts intentionally
Mass overconsumption culture promotes rampant consumerism and exploitation of people. It also fuels overproduction which increases pollution and harms the planet. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 800 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and 15 billion total pieces of mail this holiday season. Consider gifting an experience, something homemade, or shop small and sustainable businesses for a less wasteful, more thoughtful gift this year.
Source food seasonally and locally
Challenge yourself and your palate by making a dish in season. When sourcing produce and ingredients within a 100-mile radius of you, not only will your meal be fresher and more flavorful, but it will also have a smaller carbon footprint too! By joining a CSA (community-supported agriculture) you can tap into a share of a local farm and yield the bounty of seasonal crops through a subscription-based model. CSAs are beneficial to you, your local community, and the planet! Find one in your area.
Chew on this. Food waste accounts for 39% of what Americans throw away, which is approximately 42 billion pounds. When food and yard waste decompose in landfills, methane gas is released. Try eating your leftovers or composting if you need to throw away food. Live in the city? Consider joining a compost pick-up service.
Wrap with a purpose
Unfortunately, single-use wrapping paper usually cannot be recycled due to its mixed materials like glitter, dye, plastic, foil, etc. In fact, the U.S. is estimated to produce 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper each year, with approximately 2.3 million pounds ending up in landfills. Consider using fabric to wrap gifts or reuse collected paper that comes in packages. Keep any paper, bowls, or ribbons for future wrapping, or save holiday cards to repurpose for gift tags!
Today, this season, and always – make conscious choices, build up your communities, and remember your purchase power.