With the holiday season in full gear for the next couple months, it can be hard to keep sustainability in mind when all the parties and gatherings are around the corner. But every year Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving to New Year’s than any other time of the year! This is equivalent to 25 million tons of garbage or 1 million tons a week ending up in already over capacity landfills.
Of course going 0 to zero waste especially during the holidays (semi-post pandemic on top of that) can feel overwhelming but reducing our waste doesn't have to be complicated.
For Holiday Parties:
Whether it is a get together with friends or family we've all seen the dreaded red solo cups and stacks plastic plates and containers full of plastic utensils. Sure these items provide convenience in the short term but they won't be very convenient decades from now.
- Try not to rely on disposable plates, cutlery, cups and instead use reusable table ware you already own. Not only does this reduce plastic waste, it gives you a chance to get creative with your table setting. If you don't have enough plates and utensils for all your guests - consider renting or borrowing. There shouldn't be any shame in trying to reduce waste!
- Invest in some washable cloth napkins!
- Ditch the plastic wrap and use bees wrap or silicone covers when doing holiday meal prep.
- IF you have to use plastic, try and reuse it and wash instead of tossing. Or try and get creative with BYOP or BYOC. Bring your own plate or cup! That way you don't even need to write your name on your cup since guests will know which cup they brought.
- If you are the guest, don't be embarrassed to bring your own reusable set of utensils. It might even inspire someone else to do that same. I have in the past done this and some friends make fun of it but at least I feel good after.
- Reduce food waste by having your guests take food home with them with reusable containers. On the flip side - always have a container in your car to be able to take home any food that is offered. This works great if you go out to restaurants as well
- If it is a potluck, try to make a dish yourself instead of buying something pre-made in thick plastic packaging.
- When grocery shopping try to avoid produce wrapped in plastic and bring your own reusable produce and grocery bags.
- Have a designated trash and recycling section so guests know to separate their items. Take it an extra step and have a compost bin as well!
Gift wrapping is cute and hard to resist walking into any store but is realistically it only ever gets used once and ends crumpled up in landfills.
- Cloth wrapping that can be reused again is a really elegant and fun way to wrap gifts! Scarves, bandanas, etc.
- Old magazines or newspapers
- Recyclable brown craft paper with no dyes.
- Reusable tins, boxes, or bags.
- I always save tissue paper and gift bags that are in a good condition (or even a little wrinkled) and reuse for the next year! Plus this saves you money and time.
- Instead of plastic bows and ribbons, decorate with items you foraged - fallen leaves, pine cones, plant or floral stems. These can easily be composted and can add such a festive and beautiful accent.
Decorating for the holidays is such a wonderful time of the year but often times the decorations we buy are disposable.
Balloons, streamers, and banners are fun but don't last more than a day. Investing in quality decorations that last year after year is a great way to still be festive but reduce waste.
- With holiday lights remember to unplug them when not in use or put them on a timer so that you save energy.
- Use eco-friendly candles to bring in a cozy winter vibe.
- Know where your decorations come from
- Get a potted/living tree that can be used the following year
- Try renting a tree
- Make sure to think of end of life solutions for holiday decorations such as pumpkins/other gourds or holiday trees. These often get thrown into landfills and are just grown for the specific season. Find ways to compost or dispose locally in a sustainable way
- DIY your decorations with foraged items mixed with things you already own.
- Invest in quality decor that will last over cheaply produced items. Make sure to also look into non-toxic options that don't contain harmful chemicals like PVCs.
The holidays can be both stressful and joyful but being more eco-conscious during this time doesn't have to weigh you down. We hope you learned a few tips here and no matter what holidays you celebrate that they are safe and full of love and light.
Let us know in the comments if you have ways you reduce waste during the holidays that we should know about (: