With Americans on track to spend an average of $854 for gifts this holiday season (up from $646 last year), it’s no wonder that we generate on-average an additional one million tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That’s 25 percent more waste generation than a typical period of time. And for what? Sixty percent of Americans don’t even want some of those gifts.
With so many consumers ordering gifts via the internet, companies like Amazon are doing their part by offering Frustration-Free Packaging, alleviating “wrap rage” and reducing excess packaging materials. Likewise, the myriad of gift wrapping involved with buying clothing can be ridiculously wasteful: clothes wrapped in tissue paper, which are wrapped in a box, which is covered in wrapping paper, and then finally a ribbon. Thousands of shopping bags find their way into landfills each holiday season, too. Reduce waste by using reusable cloth bags when doing your holiday shopping. In fact, four million tons of trash is generated annually from gift wrap and shopping bags. Even our decorations can be wasteful. More than 33 million Christmas trees are purchased every year in the U.S.
Decomposition of these trees is slow, wasteful and damaging. Consider buying a potted tree to plant after the holidays and/or make sure your tree is properly recycled instead of finding its way into a landfill.
Follow these tips and more from the Environmental Protection Agency to make your holiday season a little greener:
- Recycle your tree. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and look for a way to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. Chances are your city’s solid waste department will mulch your tree.
- Send paperless greeting cards. Save some paper and give your greetings a more personal touch by designing your own digital e-card.
- Reuse wrapping paper. Wrap gifts with old newspapers, last year’s holiday wrapping paper, or old maps, etc. It makes opening the gift just that much more fun, too!
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