The holiday gift-giving season is in full swing and your list of gifts to buy may seem a mile long. There are family members, friends, colleagues, teachers, neighbors – so many people to celebrate during this season of giving. And while we would never be the scrooge who stole your holiday cheer, all of us at askHRgreen.org would like to point out that all this giving creates a great deal of waste. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that waste in the United States increases by more than 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. During this time of seasonal excess, being a conscientious consumer is more important than ever. Each year, askHRgreen.org encourages Hampton Roads residents to go light on the waste without missing any of the holiday cheer!
Consider these eco-friendly alternatives this holiday season:
- Send your greeting cards and gift cards electronically. Virtual cards are zero waste and they save time and money.
- Consider non-traditional zero waste gifts like a skills exchange (offering to babysit or fix a broken item), digital subscriptions, tickets or memberships to local attractions, or homemade baked goods.
- Give green living gifts (water bottles, reusable straws and cutlery, indoor plants) or “close the loop” by purchasing items made with recycled content (fleeces or sunglasses made of recycled plastic or recycled paper products)
- If you’re shopping online, consolidate your items into as few shipments as possible and be sure to recycle your flattened cardboard boxes and paper (unlined) mailers.
- When shopping in store, always bring along a reusable bag so you can refuse single use bags.
- Find alternatives to gift wrap like old maps or children’s artwork. When buying commercial wrapping paper, go for plain paper without glitter or foil.
- When cooking and baking, remember to keep cookie dough, cake batters, food scraps, and oil/grease out of your drains.
- Choose reusable dinner settings instead of disposable plates, cups, and cutlery when hosting events.
- Be inspired by nature with your holiday décor. Consider decorating with pine cones, holly, and other plant trimmings. If going with traditional decoration, upgrade to LED lights.
- Recycle right. Know what goes in your household recycling bin by reviewing the recycling naughty and nice list. Anything glittery, metallic, or made of foil or ribbon belongs in the trash.
Bonus tips! Thanks to our newsletter subscriber, John Heyward, for supplying the following ideas:
- Parents should consider investing in rechargeable batteries to power all those new toys. Instead of disposing of regular batteries as they go dead, rechargeable batteries can be reused up to 1,000 times.
- Don’t toss out leaking or broken coolers and ice chests. These make perfect storage boxes for Christmas décor and other items.