Decorating is an exciting and joyous task on the holiday to-do list. But when Jan. 2 rolls around and it’s time to take everything down, not only is it a bit of a downer, but for most people, it’s not very sustainable.
“It’s estimated that Americans will throw out an additional 25 percent of trash this holiday season, amounting to about 25 million extra tons in the landfill.” -- 'How to Reduce Waste Over the Holidays,' earth911.com
Americans throw away an estimated 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than any other time of year. Here are some of our best sustainability tips to cut down on waste – and stress – this holiday season.
Give an experience. Buy concert or event tickets, make a donation, give a membership or treat someone to a nice dinner. Sometimes, experiences can mean more than a flashy product.
Buy local when you can. Support your local economy, and cut down carbon emissions created by transporting products over long distances. Buying local also adds a thoughtful touch to your gift giving.
Declutter your home. Donate gently used toys, coats and warm clothing to local charities. Many organizations host donation drives during the holidays and provide what they collect as gifts to people in need. You’ll make someone’s holiday, simplify your home and reduce waste.
Send a green greeting. Choose holiday cards made from recycled paper. Send postcards to prevent using more paper or envelopes. Or get crafty; make holiday cards from upcycled items found around your house.
Carry reusable shopping bags. When buying gifts, take reusable bags to avoid accumulating wasteful plastic or paper bags.
Send a green gift basket. If you need to send an office gift, consider baskets with reusable water bottles, reusable bags, etc. Making the gift sustainable also gives it a more personal touch and promotes more people to develop eco-friendly habits.
Do good instead of give gifts. Instead of a gift swap, spend time together by volunteering in your community. For example, this past November, Macy’s colleagues in Chicago partnered with Make-a-Wish to share the magic of the holiday season with kids in need through the 12th annual Operation Happy Children event. Find more inspiration.
Have broken lights? Don’t throw them away. The copper wiring in the strands is a valuable resource, so it makes a huge difference when you recycle them.
Use LED Christmas lights. We installed more than 1.8 million LED lamps and fixtures in nearly all Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores across the country. LED bulbs cut energy consumption by up to 70 percent compared to conventional bulbs. So, the next time you need a new string, go for LED.
Use a timer for holiday lights. Program your timer to turn on only when it’s dark and off when you typically go to sleep. This helps save energy, can lower your electric bill and is one less thing to remember before you go to bed.
Use recyclable wrapping paper. Wrap presents with wrapping paper made from recycled paper or get creative! Use kids’ drawings, brown paper, newspaper or upcycled fabric to wrap presents. Also consider wrapping gifts in something that can be reused, such as a decorative, reusable tote bag or shopping bag. Once the gifts have been opened, remember to recycle the discarded paper or reuse what you can – bags, bows, tags, etc.
Find eco-friendly decorations. Reuse decorations from previous years, or purchase gently used ones at thrift shops or antique stores. Get crafty and make decorations from upcycled materials you have around your home. You also can decorate with fresh, organic greens, plants and flowers and compost them when you’re done.
Use a real Christmas tree. Once they are worn out, fake trees become waste that ends up in landfills. Buying a cut tree supports local tree farms and promotes cleaner air, and the tree is compostable after the holidays. Another option is to buy a live tree and re-plant it after the holidays.
The holidays are a time of family, friends and festivities. Try these tips and remember to be more mindful about the environment during the holidays to save energy and resources for a happier and more sustainable holiday season.