It’s officially December! Which means Halloween costumes are hung up, Thanksgiving leftovers are gone and we can put up our trees without being judged!
Christmas is the time of kindness, giving and spreading joy which are all some of my favorite things to be on the giving or receiving end. But, did you know, we create the most waste out of any part of the year during the Holidays, a 25% increase, which is shocking considering the U.S alone produces 700,000 tons of trash per day.
The presents, decor, wrapping paper, ornaments, lights, new clothes, Christmas cards, and immense amounts of food that we have marketed ourselves into buying in excess.
I love shopping for gifts, I love decorating and I love hosting get togethers at my house. I don’t have to give up everything that I love about the holidays, but I can do it practically.
So here are 7 ways we can easily cut down on Christmas waste.
1. Christmas cards
I love seeing all the family Christmas photos, all the happy families and kids being bribed with ice cream to smile. There are a couple ways to help minimize waste – buy what you need, and buy ethically. Do you really need 50 Christmas cards or can you settle for 25? Make a list of exactly who you’re sending them to and stick with it! As far as what cards to buy, you can buy from an eco friendly manufacturer who prints on recycled paper. A simple google search brought up a few companies but I found this one here if you want to check them out.
2. Christmas Trees
A fake plastic tree is ok if you actually use it forever or buy used. Not only is the manufacturing process not environmentally friendly but if you are throwing it out every few years and buying a new one that tree is just sitting in the landfill waiting on it’s 1000 year break down. Sure you can donate them but eventually that plastic tree is going to be run down and end up in the trash.
On the other hand is chopping down trees really any better? Well, considering tree farmers need to plan in advance they have trees already in process for the next season, then they replant the trees for following years to come and always have land with trees. So real trees in my book win here as the lesser of the evils.
A few other more sustainable options I’ve read up on recently- get a potted tree, of any kind! Keep it for Christmas and then plant it in your yard or donate it to another family or facility to plant! There are also companies around the world that do rental trees as well! Lots of different fun options we can try!
I personally like to limit decorating to the room with the tree and the kitchen along with some lights outside. Use the decor you have, check thrift stores, yard sales and online sites for used decor too instead of buying new every year. Save your money here though and use it for the gifts! We really don’t need new wreaths, cheap garland, plastic figurines or odds and ends to make a home feel Christmasy.
4. Ornaments and lights
Homemade ornaments are my favorite. We do a new handprint one every year for our own tree and as gifts for grandparents. There are lots of cute kid craft ideas for ornaments. For lights, buy some eco friendly lights or use what you already have and just be sure to unplug them often. Eco friendly lights can help save on your electricity bill too!
This is a big one. Buy only what you know people NEED or really WANT. Stop buying junk because it’s a good deal or just looks cute. Don’t get sheeped into the Christmas hype and buy a bunch of things that end up not used or in the trash. Think more experiences and making memories. If your Aunt loves butterflies she probably doesn’t want or need that butterfly lawn sculpture, but she would probably really enjoy tickets to the butterfly garden for the two of you to enjoy together.
Also, think secondhand for kids, there are a lot of great toys at local thrift shops that are perfect Santa gifts.
6. Wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is just something I would have never thought wasn’t eco friendly, it’s just paper, it’s recyclable right? Wrong! So, instead you can use old fabric, tissue paper or gift bags you already have lying around. This year we will be using brown packing paper! It gives it a nice clean look and kids can decorate presents to others with drawings and stickers! You can use twine, some leaves or any other little decor to make it look aesthetically pleasing.(My favorite Christmas present last year, Baby Lucas 6 days old)
Food will always be on my list to cut down on waste. I know vegan isn’t for everyone so if you can’t cut out meat at least buy from a local butcher if you can or organic from reliable manufacturers. Make a few veggie sides and buy from local food stands and always, always, bring your own grocery bags when out shopping! Remember to buy only the food you need and don’t waste leftovers!
If you’re setting up for your guests cut out the plastic forks, cups and paper plates and use real dishes, cups and silverware! I’ve picked up extra sets at goodwill and other thrift stores so I have enough to entertain everyone!
There’s no one solution to our climate crisis, but there are solutions! Let’s make different choices this Christmas so we can enjoy many more seasons of giving!