How To Go Green This Holiday Season

by Joan MacDonald

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, American households actually generate 25 percent more waste according to CNN. That can add up to about one million extra tons of trash each year. Give back to the planet this December by following these tips on how to go green this holiday season:

Get A Real Tree

Some people buy artificial trees thinking they are saving real trees, but there’s more to consider. According to the New York Times, over 400 million trees grow on domestic Christmas tree lots, generating oxygen and providing homes for birds and animals. Another green option is to buy a potted tree and plant it outdoors once the ground thaws. Re-planting the tree can even become a new annual, family tradition. 

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Deck The Halls With Recyclables

Decorations that provide cheer during the darkest days don’t need to wind up in a landfill. There are a few ways to cut down on non-degradable ornaments. Scouring tag sales and thrift shops for antique and secondhand ornaments can help create a distinctively retro, and recycled tree. Another option is to decorate with items that can return to nature like pine cones and berries. Edible ornaments like string popcorn and cranberries also make for eco-friendly decorations. 

Gift Giving While Doing Good

So many gifts go unused during the holiday seasons, an ultimately wasteful trend. Some families use a gift lottery (like a yankee swap) to minimize the number of things that need to be purchased. In these scenarios, you draw one person to buy gifts for, rather than buying for everyone. Some families use a swap system in which people trade things they already own. Another way to avoid buying wasteful presents is to gift a promise of your time—this could come in the form of volunteering to babysit, helping around the house, or planning an experience. 

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It’s A Wrap

Wrapping paper and gift bags contain dyes and additives, both of which add to our planet’s environmental burden. Recycle Works reports that trashed gift wrap and shopping bags culminate in four million tons of garbage each year. You can cut down on the trash burden by rethinking the pageantry. Reusing bags and ribbons, seeking biodegradable products, and using recycled newspaper are all more eco-friendly ways to wrap gifts this year. 

Homemade Cards Deliver A Personal Message

Millions of cards are sold in the U.S. each year and most are tossed after the season ends. Options for curbing that waste include sending electronic greetings, recycling cards, or making your own. If you do buy ready-made cards, look for ones made on recycled paper.

Have other ideas of how to be more eco-friendly this holiday season? Tell us about them in the comments section below. 

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