Written by GLS intern: Nazifa Hussain
It’s officially November which means yet another Thanksgiving and gifting seasons such as Christmas and Hanukkah are upon us!
Unfortunately, it is the most wasteful time of year.
Stanford University estimated that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!
With the holiday season around the corner, it is important to think about the planet and if it can keep up with everything that will going on; such as, all the food we'll be sending to landfills, the carbon emissions from plane rides to visit family, the miles and miles of gift wrap that only lasts as long as it takes to open the gift, and the amount of energy that is being used to keep the Christmas lights glowing.
Don't let this news bum you out and definitely do not let it stop you from enjoying the holidays because there are a number of easy ways that you can have a more sustainable and resourceful holiday season!
One way to be more sustainable when it comes to the delicious holiday meal is to shop for locally produced food if possible! This includes farmer’s markets and local vendors —we love our friends down at Eastern Market.
Remember to bring your own reusable grocery bags and try your best to avoid buying products wrapped in excessive amounts of plastic.
It might also be helpful to plan ahead and not overbuy things that might not be used and likely thrown away. This rule can apply to meals as well as gifts!
After the family dinner and Friendsgiving, use your leftovers or send them off with your friends and family. You could also try donating leftovers to local shelters and food banks! Some people even encourage everyone to bring their own containers to take leftovers home.
Giving gifts is a little tricky to be fully sustainable with however, there are a number of resourceful and meaningful gifts you could get someone! These include stainless steel water bottles, BPA-free play fire trucks for kids, reusable grocery bags, recycled notebooks and notepads, solar powered phone chargers, and sustainably made clothing for the whole family!
When in doubt over what gift to get someone, food speaks to everyone! Baked cookies, breads/pastries, jam, or even their favorite dessert is a great waste free gift idea.
Try to opt for recyclable wrapping paper for gift wrap and if you want to go above and beyond, you could also try using old magazine pages/comics or paper bags.
You could also avoid using paper completely by using reusable tins, boxes, or baskets - especially for larger gifts to cut down on wrapping paper. Also, be sure to save ribbons, gift bags, tissue paper, and bows from the gifts you receive to reuse them.
Christmas lights are a thrill as they sparkle and shine, but have you ever wondered just how much electricity they waste?
Remember to turn off your lights when you go to sleep and try to not have them running all night long as this would save a lot of energy as well as money.
Using solar powered Christmas lights and solar powered decorations are a great idea if applicable. Remember to recycle and reuse your old lights or opt to buy energy efficient LED lights when your current ones need to be replaced.
It is so important for us to think about the planet as the holiday season is rolling in and how we can all be a little more sustainable and resourceful.
It is crucial that everyone does whatever possible to help lessen the amount of waste that ends up in the landfills after the holidays. Every little effort counts, so start today and make this year the most sustainable!
Try your best with what you have, anything and everything counts! There's something each of us can do for our planet this holiday season.