The holidays can be a joyous time of the year - fun family traditions, exchanging gifts with loved ones, and holiday parties galore. Unfortunately, many of these trimmings come with a lot of waste. If you’re ready to switch up your holiday festivities to be more environmentally friendly, consider these seven simple swaps to make your holidays more sustainable!
7 Simple Sustainable Swaps
1. Choose Earth-Friendly Paper
Most wrapping paper uses colorful inks and dyes on glossy paper which can’t be recycled or composted. And since wrapping paper is just used once and tossed, it’s one of the most wasteful parts of holiday gifting! Instead of colorful patterned paper for specific holidays, consider buying a roll of kraft paper to wrap up gifts. Kraft paper can be recycled and even composted after use, making it a much more earth-friendly option!
This neutral paper is ultra-versatile, and can be used for any holiday or gift-giving occasion - no more awkward leftover scraps at the end of a wrapping paper roll! Since it’s blank, you can accessorize with twine, scarves or fabric that can be kept and reused. You can also make it a family affair and have the kiddos draw or decorate it for the recipient — making it an extra special part of the gift. Kraft paper is much more affordable than typical wrapping paper and can be found at most large box stores, online, or in craft stores.
2. Bag it Up!
If wrapping paper isn’t your style, opt for gift bags during the gifting season. Gift bags are an excellent alternative, as they can be used again (and again and again). Tissue paper is often recyclable or compostable - check the label to be sure, and decorating will be a cinch!
3. Ditch the Sets
The holidays are prime time for retailers to sell pre-packaged sets to make gifting easier - but often, these kits come with a massive amount of packaging that winds up in the trash. Consider purchasing products that are not pre-packaged in sets to keep more paper and plastic packaging out of landfills.
4. Clean Up - Without Plastic
Cooking big family meals, wrapping (and unwrapping) gifts, and preparing the home for festivities can create a lot of waste. With all the joy, you’ll certainly have some junk to take out with the trash, too - be sure to use plant-based, compostable trash bags like HoldOn Bags to take out the trash and reduce your plastic consumption.
5. Gift Experiences
Rather than filling up the home with goodies, consider giving the gift of experiences with your loved ones. Not only do experiential gifts create less waste, they’ll help you make memories together, too.
For adults, consider giving gifts like tickets to concerts, plays, sporting events, or art exhibits, lessons for skiing or horse back riding, an adventure like skydiving or race car driving, or a class you can take together like pottery throwing or archery.
Children could enjoy all of the above, but might also enjoy membership to a nearby science or history museum, a tour of a submarine or ship, an afternoon at a trampoline park, a baking or painting class, or even a live show.
6. Go Natural
Fake Christmas trees, faux greenery and candles, plastic ornaments - all of these touches make your home jolly, but they also will eventually wind up in landfills, where they’ll take decades to decompose (if at all). Instead of choosing decorations made of plastic, try to use natural materials. In addition to reducing plastic waste, you’ll get the added bonus of a more festive, beautiful, and delicious-smelling home (who doesn’t love the smell of fresh pine?!)
7. Shop Local
Air travel and truck transportation creates a massive amount of emissions. To cut down on harmful emissions, choose gifts and food from local sources. Local shops and farms provide not only fresher food and unique gifts, but support families and individuals in your community - all while cutting down on emissions.