The holiday season is full of wonder, joy, love and laughter, but it can also be full of something way less heartwarming: waste. Toys and electronics come with tons of packaging, discarded gift wrap accumulates so quickly and it’s easy to feel guilty about all the trash you’re creating while celebrating. There is a mindful way to gift and unwrap and discard! Being eco-friendly during the holiday season (and all year ‘round) isn’t impossible; you can totally do it with a few simple swaps while shopping, decorating and wrapping gifts.
Skip the plastic bags. Toss a few large canvas totes in your car so when you’re out gift or grocery shopping, it’s easy to say “no thanks” to plastic bags. Tote bags are so much easier to carry and they won’t rip when you’re hauling your goodies into the house! If you do end up with a lot of plastic bags (it happens), take them to your local grocery store to be recycled.
Shop secondhand. Not everything you give this holiday season needs to be brand new. Vintage or antique gifts can be sentimental and thoughtful, especially if someone on your list is a collector or a lover of good “old stuff.” Even a funny mug you found at the thrift store can be a great gift when paired with some local coffee or Aveda tea — just an idea. The joy of gift giving is that much more because you can make it feel so personal.
Opt for reusable gift packaging, or choose a gift wrap that can be recycled. Did you know you can’t recycle wrapping paper with glitter or metallic details? They can contaminate the recycling stream. Wrap your packages in brown paper and add stamp decorations or cute drawings and doodles to customize the gift instead. Keep bows, strings and ribbons to reuse again and again, and don’t forget to remove any tape before you recycle the paper. If you’re not sure what’s recyclable, check out your city rules and regulations to be sure.
Shop mindfully and shop local. With all the sales and promotions going on during the holidays, it’s easy to mindlessly buy, buy, buy because something is on sale. However, think about what everyone on your list really wants (or needs) and gift them just a few quality items instead of a lot of stuff. Consider shopping locally; it supports small businesses and saves energy since nothing needs to be shipped. Think of your shopping day(s) as an adventure; opt for craft markets to support local makers and find unique treasures, or head to your favorite boutique and see what they’ve got in store. You never know what you’re going to find, and that’s part of the fun!
Skip the paper plates. Don’t eat your holiday meals on disposable dishware! Yes, it’s easy to clean up, but it’s definitely not kind to the earth; those plastic forks will live on in a landfill. Use real dishware and put your family to work washing and drying while you relax. (If you cooked, you get to sit out on dishwashing anyway. That’s the rule.)
Recycle your tree. Did you know you can recycle your real Christmas tree? While rules differ from city to city, many cities will collect your tree for you and turn it into mulch. Before you toss it on the curb when the holidays are over, check with your local waste management and see how you can ensure it is recycled post-Christmas.