The holiday season is upon us, and in the chaos that surrounds the decorations, gifting, shopping, holiday parties, and family reunions, we often fail to realize the impact seasonal festivities can have on the environment. With gift boxes, wrapping paper, and plastic items being used recklessly, holidays generate a mind-boggling amount of waste. The EPA (Environment Protection Agency) estimates that Americans produce hold your breath, 25% excess garbage, from Thanksgiving to Christmas!
It’s saddening to think of all the extra trash being dumped in the landfills! This holiday season, try not to be a waste warrior, and let us help you out with useful tips to go green and be environmentally responsible.
Say no to plastic
No need to emphasize how bad plastic is for our planet, is there? Make a conscious effort not to use plastic bags. Club your purchases into a single large bag, and if it’s something that doesn’t need a bag, don’t use one! I keep a large cloth bag in my car and use it every time I visit the stores. Here’s a tip I have used (and which works): Stick a post-it on the inside of your entry door to remind you to carry your own bag whenever you step out to shop! Believe me, it takes time to get used to, but it’ll soon become a habit!
It’s hard not to pick up things from the supermarket shelves during the holiday season because it all looks so colorful and inviting. Don’t we all buy things just because they seemed irresistible but never really got around to using it? The same goes for gifts. It may look wonderful, but may not necessarily make a worthwhile present. Shop with a purpose. Think wisely before you toss an item in your cart. It could very well lie unused for months before finding its way into the trashcan and eventually into the landfills, creating unnecessary, and at times, hazardous waste.
When it comes to shopping purposefully, how can we not talk about shopping online? Save yourself numerous trips to the store by shopping online. Its stress free – you’ll save money by not spending on gas and you’ll save time. I mean, there’s a reason people wait for Cyber Monday instead of Black Friday!
Offset your carbon footprint
Unless you’re visiting family, avoid driving down to a far-off city on a vacation. You’ll not just reduce your carbon footprint by saving on gas, you’ll save money by avoiding travel during peak holiday season. Instead, plan a family outing to the state and national parks in the vicinity and visit local attractions, thereby giving the local economy a boost!
Leave the paper trail behind
Avoid using wrapping paper. If the gift you received is wrapped, don’t throw the wrapping paper away. Reuse it. The smallest spill on the table has us rushing to tear off a sheet off the kitchen roll. Opt for cloth towels. Then there’s the holiday tradition of sending and receiving greeting cards, one most of us wouldn’t want to do away with. But instead of paper cards, send an e-card! They’re equally attractive, and free of charge!
Don’t hoard all that junk!
It’s the holidays, so my guess is you have already cleaned out your closets and garage before the season set in. Try to re-purpose that trash into something useful. For e.g., make mats out of old curtains. Any old stuff that’s still in working condition but too old to be used? Donate it to thrift stores and charities to be used by the less needy. Remember, ‘tis the season of giving!
Most items in our house contain metal, and once they’re no longer of any use, we simply throw them away. Here’s a tip: Collect all such items and take them to the scrap yard. Selling metal scrap is one of the most environmentally friendly things to do, not to mention pocket-friendly! You can haul your metal scrap to any one of the SIMS Metal Management facilities or find a list of local scrap yards by visiting 1800-Got-Scrap online. Sims has recycling facilities in Redwood City, CA and a couple of other cities in the state.
When you buy Christmas lights, choose LED lights. They give off less heat and last longer than the regular ones. Save money and give back to the environment by buying things with an Energy Star label. The Energy Star website claims that a typical household can save $700 annually by switching to Energy Star products.
You’re probably wondering whether saving a few sheets of kitchen rolls, not using a plastic bag, or cancelling that holiday trip down south to escape the winter is really making any difference. It will, if each one of think in an Eco-friendly manner and make a conscious effort to go green during the holiday season. As more and more people get environmentally aware, it would be apt to wish all your readers a green festive season!