It’s the holiday season, which means time with family, great food, gifts, and colorful decorations. But did you know it’s also the most wasteful time of year? According to Vanderbilt University’s sustainability guide, “Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.” In the newest edition of “The Dirt” we will explore new, fun ideas to have a greener holiday!
• We all know the pleasure of opening a specially addressed envelope and finding a delightful card inside, a card that can sit on our mantle or table and bring joy throughout the season. However, instead of buying new cards this year, create your own “upcycled” cards out of outdated calendars or other materials, even using origami to make and send holiday cards no one will soon forget. Some businesses like the Durham Scrap Exchange sell recycled or upcycled craft supplies for every holiday need! Don’t have the time? Don’t worry. Send e-cards or those made out of 100% recycled paper.
• By now, you have probably heard about the benefits of LED lights, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of old favorites. Consider this, LED lights can last for 100,000 hours and use 90% less energy than traditional lights. Though they may sell for slightly more than incandescent lights, they are absolutely worth the investment, especially when you have a display as spectacular as this one in Austin, Texas.
• Packaging is a pain, causing much frustration among gift openers young and old, and creating endless heaps of cardboard, paper, and plastic that will most likely end up in the garbage. Give gifts that don’t require packaging, like game tickets, movies, electronic magazine subscriptions, gift cards, or a gift to TLC in someone’s honor. For more no-packaging ideas for the Triangle, check out our Buying Local blog post here.
• Wrapping your presents with cloth can be just as beautiful and festive as wrapping with traditional paper, which can be difficult to recycle. The cloth can be re-used for future gifts or made into something else, without heading to the landfill. If every family wrapped just three holiday gifts with cloth or other re-usable materials, “it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.” 45,000!
With these tips and others, we can all take strides to make this holiday season the greenest ever. For more holiday tips, check out Vanderbilt University’s Sustainability Holiday Greening Guide as well as University of California Santa Barbara’s Holiday Tips. Have great holiday ideas of your own? Let us know about them on our Facebook page!