Reducing your holiday waste is the best gift you can give to the planet

1 Holiday Waste

‘Tis the season for holiday gift shopping, dinner parties, and lots of excess waste. The holidays are usually a time for gift-giving and spending quality time with family and friends. Unfortunately, it also comes with a price. The commodification of the holiday season has led to an increase in waste production, which has detrimental effects on the planet. From food waste to unrecyclable gift wrapping, is it necessary to participate in over-consumerism to celebrate the holiday season? According to the Center for Biological Diversity, about 5.8 million tons more waste are produced in the United States in December than any other time of the year. The amount is equivalent to the weight of almost 79,000 Boeing 747 airplanes, which does not even take into account waste produced in other countries. With this in mind, there are many other ways to show thoughtfulness to your loved ones without harming the environment.

If you’re thinking of gifts to give your loved ones, do not limit your options to physical gifts. Instead, gift them an experience they can enjoy, learn, or benefit from, whether it be a gift card to do their nails or a massage session at their favorite spa. Other ideas would be a free monthly gym membership or a prepaid workshop class about something they are interested in, like salsa dancing or woodworking. It is a great way to show your friends and family that you pay attention to their interests and hobbies. Another thoughtful and eco-friendly idea is homemade or upcycled gifts. With a little bit of time and creativity, you can make something unique for your loved ones. If you’re skilled in arts and crafts, such as knitting or pottery, you can plan a few weeks to knit a scarf or make ceramic mugs.

It is also important to keep in mind that not all gift wrappers sold in stores are recyclable. Most metallic, shiny, and glittery wrapping papers are mixed with plastic materials; therefore, they are considered non-recyclable and end up in landfills. If you are purchasing wrapping materials, opt for wrapping paper with no plastic-composite designs. A great way to promote a greener holiday season is to challenge your friends and family to get creative while wrapping presents by using old maps and newspapers, fabrics, baskets, or jars. The better alternative is to always use materials that are recyclable or reusable to wrap gifts. By doing so, you can reduce the amount of waste without getting rid of the joy that comes with giving.

Food waste is also really important to keep in mind during the holiday season. According to the United Nations Environment Program, about one-third of food produced globally goes to waste. When hosting dinner parties or get-togethers, it is best to make just enough food to serve everyone. If there are leftovers, encourage the guests to take home some of the extra food instead of throwing them out in the bin. It is also possible to make leftover meals in the next few weeks while drawing inspiration from online recipes to spice things up. Since it is the season of gift-giving, donating meals to food drives or distributing a few plates to the homeless can not only reduce waste but also make someone else’s day.

Roselle Torres

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