The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but they are also the most wasteful. In the United States alone, six million tons of extra waste is produced during the holiday season. Here are a few tips on how to make your festivities more eco-friendly.
1) Consider alternatives to commercial gift-wrap. Half of the paper America consumes every year is used to wrap and decorate presents, and the trash from holiday gift-wrap and shopping bags weighs over four million tons. There are many options for gift-wrap substitutes. Old comic strips, newspaper print, or outdated posters are fun alternatives. Or, you can create your own personal print with recycled brown craft paper and stencils, stamps, or markers.
To complete your recycled wrap, include a gift card or tag made from seed paper. Botanical Paperworks makes a line of biodegradable eco-paper that is made with post-consumer materials and embedded with seeds. When the paper is planted in a pot of soil, the seeds grow into flowers and herbs and the paper composts away.
2) When you deck your halls, opt for CFL or LED Christmas lights instead of incandescent. They use 80% to 90% less power than conventional mini-bulbs, and LEDs stay cool to the touch so they won’t singe the tree. When you leave the house or go to sleep, remember to turn off the lights. By keeping them on 24-7, you’re not only wasting energy, but increasing the odds of a fire.
3) This year, consider a potted Christmas tree. Over 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in the U.S. annually, and about 30 million of those end up in the landfill come January. Starting at about $30, you can purchase a potted tree at a local nursery. Rather than a slow death in your living room, potted trees can be donated to the parks department or replanted in your yard come spring. If you still can’t shake the need for a cut tree, take steps to recycle it after the holidays. Contact your local waste management facility – many collect trees for mulch.
If you do one thing for the earth this holiday season, reuse an old ribbon. If every family reused just two feet of ribbon, the ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. By taking steps to lower your carbon-footprint, you can save the guilt for the sugar cookies and eggnog.
Happy Holidays from BrightNest
Photos: Justina Blankeny