10 Ways to Reduce Holiday Waste
With the holidays right around the corner, you are likely thinking of gift ideas for your loved ones. While this season is always full of fun (and yummy food), it also generates a huge amount of waste. From single-use gift wrap and greeting cards to disposable plates and cheaply made gifts, a lot of items meant to spark holiday cheer are unfortunately destined for the landfill. We encourage you to switch it up this year! Check out these 10 suggestions for how you and your family can reduce waste while still enjoying your holiday season.
1. Gift Wrap Alternatives
Gift wrap and bows are big offenders when it comes to holiday waste. Though some types of gift wrap can be recycled, paper with foil designs, glitter, or velvet textures is not recyclable. This year try wrapping your gifts with cloth, a reusable bag, or newspaper. You could also repurpose a paper grocery bag to wrap smaller gifts. These alternatives are better for the environment than traditional gift wrap, and they are a fun way to include bonus gifts as the packaging, such as a scarf or reusable tote bag. Elf Tricia says that the most memorable gift wrap she received was an old National Geographic map!
2. Use Reusable Dishes and Silverware
Though it is tempting to use disposable plates, cups, and utensils when cooking for a large group, try to resist! Using reusable dishes that you already own is so much better for the environment (and your wallet) because you don’t have to throw everything away at the end of the night. Ask a friend or family member to help you with the dishes after your meal is over. Just blast some fun tunes and enjoy good conversation and quality time together. Bonus points if you stay mindful of how much water you use while washing!
3. Reduce Food Waste
No matter how hungry we all are when we sit down at the table for a big holiday feast, there are bound to be leftovers and food scraps that remain uneaten. If you have extra veggie scraps such as onion skins, broccoli stocks, and carrot peels, try making a homemade veggie stock. For scraps that you can’t find a use for, an alternative to throwing everything in the trash is to start a compost pile or contribute your scraps to a friend’s compost. Some municipalities even have curbside bins for yard waste and compostables. If you haven't requested this type of bin from your trash/recycling service, now is a great time to do so.
4. Make Your Own Holiday Decorations
Instead of buying all of your decorations, try making some yourself. You can use recycled holiday cards, newspaper, cardboard, popsicle sticks, or anything other crafty items you have in your home. You might even make a garland or wreath from greenery you collect in your yard or on a nature walk. These are all great activities to do with kids and can help you create meaningful decorations that will last for years to come.
5. Choose High-Quality Gifts
Single-use items and gifts with a short lifespan will only bring joy for a short period of time. If you do buy gifts for your loved ones from a store or online, try to purchase high-quality items that will last. For example, our Fireside Slippers are made with durable, long-lasting materials and replaceable sheepskin innersoles! These innersoles allow you to replenish the softness you love without buying an entirely new pair.
6. Give Gifts That Will Be Used
Consider giving gifts that are edible or consumable in some way. This might include baked goods, package-free soaps, knitted hats and scarves… the choices are seemingly endless! This is an awesome way to get creative and give fun ideas to friends and family members for things they can make as well. If you aren’t the crafty type, tickets to a concert or some sort of fun experience can also be a good option.
7. Buy Less
Something to consider this season is to simply buy less. It is easy to get wrapped up in buying more and more each year without considering the reasoning why or exploring other alternatives. If you have high-quality items around your house that you aren’t using, consider gifting them to someone who could get some joy out of them. You can also plan a shared experience with a loved one such as a hike, a camping trip, or a home-cooked meal instead of a physical gift.
8. Upcycle Your Tree
If you celebrate Christmas, try using a potted tree that can be used year after year. You can also turn your tree into mulch, make coasters or trivets out of the tree trunk, make firewood, or recycle the tree after the holidays are over. Your local community likely offers a tree collection service as well.
9. Put Your Lights on Timers
If you put up holiday lights outside or inside your home, try turning them off during the day to save energy. You can also put the strings of lights on timers so that they only run for a portion of the evening when they are most likely to be seen and enjoyed. If you're purchasing lights for the first time to decorate, look for energy-efficient options, such as lights with LED bulbs.
10. Shop Mindfully
A general tip for shopping during the holiday season (if you choose to do so) is to stay mindful of where products have come from. How far did they have to travel to get to you? What kind of packaging do they come in? For example, we use minimal packaging at Softstar when we ship out our orders. The box and packing paper that we do use can then be recycled after the package arrives at your door. We also place a lot of importance on using as much of our leather hides as possible when making shoes to avoid wasting excess material. Supporting companies that align with your values and shopping locally are both fantastic ways to reduce waste this holiday season.
What steps will you take to reduce waste this winter? Leave a comment below to let us know!