The biggest and most anticipated holiday of the year is approaching, and while we may think that Santa Claus steers the sleigh, in reality, it’s consumerism. That’s exactly why the Christmas decorations pop up, before the Halloween decorations even come down. The corporations have been planning for this all year, and they’re ready for us to spend, indulge, and of course, dispose (so we can do it all over again next year).
We produce nearly 25% more waste around the Christmas holidays, which equates to one-million extra tons of waste per week . You don’t have to be a scrooge to admit that Christmas is a wasteful holiday.
Ten million turkeys, 100 square kilometers of wrapping paper, and 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be dragged to the curb on Christmas Day, or when we get around to it . Afterward, gifts will sit around the house until they are packed away in closets and cupboards, many of which will never be seen or acknowledged again.
Now, with this global shift into sustainable living, it’s also time for us to also start looking at the holidays, and why not start with the most disposable one of all. Not to take the fun out of Christmas, but if we all do our part, we can still enjoy the festivities while drastically decreasing our waste.
We should be reminded that it is the togetherness of family and friends that we should cherish, not the several bags of extra and unnecessary trash that we generate for this holiday.
Here are 15 Tips for a Green Christmas
- Avoid single-use decorations such as plastic tablecloths, tinsel, window stickers, and cello/polypropylene wrapped baskets.
- Buy less. Some of the best gifts are home-made or experiences.
- Save and salvage any wrapping paper. Try to reuse ribbons and bows.
- Find alternatives to wrapping paper. Brown craft paper or newspaper works great!
- Shorten your buying list by implementing a secret Santa for adults
- Look for locally made gifts and support local businesses and artisans
- Choose gifts that are made from recycled sources. Green toys are great for young children.
- Give battery-free gifts.
- Remember that regifting is ok.
- Plan a family hiking trip or adventure.
- Use LED lighting for your home and Christmas tree
- Choose a live tree, although they are wasteful, they are more sustainable than plastic trees, which do not biodegrade.
- Make homemade cards.
- Recycle old electronics and batteries.
- Support a local charity or someone in your community.
We don’t need to take the joy out of Christmas, there are many families who are already working to combat the waste, clutter and reduce the stress associated with gift-giving. Many are instead opting-in for homemade baked goods, virtual gifts, or are realizing that spending time with family is the best gift in itself.
The millennial generation is also shifting away from conventional and consumerism based holidays. For the jolliest time of year, many are finding a way to gift an experience instead of adding more ‘stuff’ to the picture.
Many parents are now encouraging family members to opt-out from buying toys for their kids. When you think about it, the overwhelming amount of plastic toys are completely unnecessary, many of these presents end up being unused and unloved – so what’s the point?
While young kids get excited about Christmas, how many of them really understand it? Most are just happy to be surrounded by family, that they end up more interested in the wrapping paper than what’s even inside.
It’s time to re-invent Christmas. This year show your appreciation for friends and family by finding them the perfect gift – which doesn’t have to be things. When it comes to decorations, simply re-use what you already have, and see what you can save and repurpose for the years to come. How many of these 15 tips can you practice this year?