We know it’s easy for us all to get wrapped up in extra materials this time of year. As a result, household waste generally increases by a whopping 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years.
While we’re not all perfect, following the “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” philosophy can help us lessen our environmental impact and still enjoy all the festivities of the season.
REFUSE- Don’t Overbuy
• Try not to get caught up with the material aspect of gift giving and receiving. Remember that the most important gift of all is time. Focus more on spending quality time with loved ones (or planning future time together), and less on physical gifts.
• Limit gifts for your kids, try the 4 gift challenge where you purchase something they need, something they want, something to wear, and something to read.
• Consider homemade gifts. Nothing has more TLC than some home baked goods, or perhaps you picked up a new crafting hobby you’d like to share with your friends & family.
• Virtual classes make for a thoughtful gift, without the extra materials and waste.
REDUCE- Limit Your Usage
• If you are buying gifts from online retailers, try to order all your gifts from the same place at the same time so that they arrive in fewer boxes. Or, opt for curbside pickup and schedule multiple pickups at once.
• If you're giving multiple gifts to one recipient, consolidate them into one box or gift bag.
• Remember to bring your own reusable bag when shopping!
• Opt for a virtual card instead of mailing paper cards.
REUSE- Find Household Items for Gift Wrapping
Fabric: Many of us have older, unworn clothes lying around, so let’s put them to use! Shirts with fun patterns, graphic t-shirts, scarves, or denim can make a fun pouch for your gifts. You can also purchase biodegradable fabric gift wrap, which your recipient can reuse or hang as wall art.
Newspaper: If you’re still getting your news the old fashioned way, recycle your newspaper for a vintage look. It’s also an affordable alternative if you don’t already have the newspaper on hand.
- Brown Paper Bags: Turn your grocery bags inside out, stamp, paint, or doodle on the blank side for wrapping.
Jars & Tins: You might have some extras at home or you can head to your local antique shop for some fun containers glass containers in all shapes and sizes.
Cloth Produce Bags & Totes: Make your gift a two-for-one by using a cloth bag to present your gift. Reusable bags are always a necessity!
Boxes: Bet you have boxes up the wazoo! Have your kids paint them for a fun afternoon activity and use them as gift boxes.
Foliage: Use tree springs, winter berries, and flowers as “bows.”
Gift Tags: Cut out the front of last year’s holiday cards to use as gift tags.
RECYCLE- Utilize Local Recycle Programs
• Wrapping paper you can crumple up is generally recyclable. If you cant, it’s likely coated.
• Avoid shiny and glittery wrapping paper and bows. Use Kraft paper for wrapping- it’s stiff enough that you won’t need to use tape and it’s totally recyclable. Just tie it up with some twine and you’re set!
• Earth 911 is an excellent North American resource for learning about what materials are recylable in your area.