Each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Being a conscious consumer during these peak waste generating months could be the single greatest gift you give to the environment. Consider these creative ways to get in the holiday spirit while limiting unnecessary waste.
Giving and receiving gifts
- Send your greeting cards and gift cards electronically. Virtual cards are zero waste, and save time and money, while maintaining social distancing.
- Instead of shopping in crowded stores, donate to your friends’ or family member’s favorite charity or cause.
- If you’re shopping online, consolidate your items into as few shipments as possible.
- Receiving a boxed gift in the mail? Reuse the box if you can. If not, make sure to break down and recycle the box.
- For wrapping presents, use what you have on hand for wrapping. Fabric, maps, your child’s artwork and gently used scarves are creative and bright alternatives to wrapping paper.
Cooking and entertaining
- When shopping for groceries, avoid buying products that are overly packaged, and carry your reusable tote with you!
- You’re probably cooking for fewer people, so eliminate unnecessary waste by preparing just the right amount of food.
- Choose reusable dinner settings instead of disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. China plates, reusable cutlery, and cloth napkins add sophistication to your holidays while cutting back on waste.
- When cleaning up, remember that food scraps go in the trash or compost bin, and avoid dumping any fatty foods, oily leftovers and greasy residue down the drain or garbage disposal.
Decorating your home
- For the price of a naturally-grown Christmas tree, you could invest in plants to enjoy year round. Studies have shown that plants boost energy, mood, productivity, concentration and improve the quality of indoor air.
- Make sure your outdoor holiday lighting has LED bulbs.
- For a free, natural decoration, collect and display pine cones in a basket, on your tree or string them in a garland for your front door.
- If you do use a naturally-grown Christmas tree, place it in a quiet corner of your yard after the holidays; the birds will love it. Or, recycle it into mulch. Check back with askHRgreen.org for a list of Christmas tree recycling guidelines for each Hamp ton Roads locality.
Finally, if you do find yourself with used wrapping paper, plastic packaging, ribbon and bows at the end of the season, check the askHRgreen.org Naughty or Nice list to see which materials are recyclable. For more tips and ways you can make local living easy on the environment, visit askHRgreen.org.