The holiday season can be filled with a lot of waste—in fact, according to Green Christmas, Americans throw away an average of two billion extra tons of garbage per week during the holiday season. In addition to the added trash, there’s also the stuff you keep but don’t really want (think about the quesadilla maker or ugly Christmas sweater you got last year).
Here are a few tips to make your holiday season more eco-friendly.
1) Use reusable shopping bags while shopping.
A few months ago, San Francisco’s ban on plastic bags went into effect, and shoppers now have to pay an extra 10 cents for every bag they take from retail stores. This will help eliminate some of the 3.8 billion bags used by myself and other fellow Bay Area residents each year. While your city may not have a legal ban on retail shopping bags, you can make a difference by yourself by bringing reusable bags with you for all your holiday shopping (these are my favorite—a gift from my mom last year!).
2) “Green” your wrapping.
During the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday, Americans throw away 25% more garbage than they usually do, according to Green Christmas. Wrapping paper is often not recyclable, because it includes non-paper additives (such as gold & silver coloring, glitter, or plastics), and is laminated or dyed. It also usually has tape on it, left over from the gift wrapping. Give your gifts beautifully and sustainably by wrapping in recycled newspaper (comics work great), old maps or pages from an atlas, gift wrap saved from previous years, or these gorgeous fabric gift wraps. Or use colorful tea towels—they become an extra part of your gift.
3) Request alternative gifts
If you know that you don’t need any more stuff (that is, if you’re like me), why not ask your friends and family for something else? I set up a charity registry this year, and so can you. It’s a great way to raise money for your favorite organizations. Another idea is to ask people to donate items to needy families, or give to local shelters instead of buying a gift for you.
4) Give eco-friendly items
Help your loved ones consume less throughout the year by gifting eco-friendly, reusable items. Looking for some great ideas? I love these paper towel alternatives. I bring my no-spill stainless steel coffee mug every time I get coffee, saving countless to-go cups. Or, help reduce plastic water bottle consumption by giving a great glass water bottle.
5) Give less “stuff”
Our consumer-based culture has a devastating impact on our society and our environment. For more about this, check out The Story of Stuff. You may be surprised by what you discover!
Instead of giving a physical gift and adding to the stuff in the world, give the gift of charity. It’s a green gift that makes a positive difference.
JustGive’s charity gift cards are a great option—you can choose the amount of the donation, and your recipient chooses the charity. We also offer unique charity “gift baskets” of four charities working toward a common cause (there are 16 to choose from that help animals, children, seniors and more.). Or, you can select a gift from the Holiday Gift Guide and make a donation in your loved one’s name. Each gift in the Guide shows the impact of your donation, making gift giving fun and inspiring.
What’s your best or most unusual green holiday tip? Share in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook!
—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager