May Your Holidays Be Merry and Bright—For the Environment

Waste Harmonics

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with holiday parties, family gatherings, gifts and decorations. As we celebrate the holiday season, there’s always an uptick in the amount of waste produced and energy used. How do we manage those things to make this joyous time of year more sustainable? Here are a few sustainability tips for a merry and bright holiday season:

Brown paper packages tied up with string—these are a few of my favorite things

There are many creative ways to sustainably wrap gifts. Try repurposing paper bags and upcycling packing materials to make unique wrapping paper. Old clothing can be transformed into DIY ribbon and bows to add an extra-special touch to any gift. You’ll be surprised how simple it is to wrap sustainably, so be creative and have fun!

Lights and disposal

While you’re rocking around your gorgeously lit Christmas tree or admiring your tribute to Clark Griswold, try using energy-saving LED strands of lights this year. Your wallet and the environment will thank you. When your lights decide they’ve finished their holiday duties, make sure to dispose of them properly. Keep them out of your garbage and your traditional recycling. Find a local program or hardware store that will accept faulty lights and responsibly recycle them. Contact your local municipal waste service or seek out mail-in holiday light recycling programs.

DIY decorations

Everyone has their favorite holiday decorations, and often they’re the ones that have been passed down from generation to generation, making them a great sustainable option. When you’re looking to add to your decorations, seek out companies that sustainably source their materials, or look around your home and put those DIY skills to work. Try making a tin can lantern with a festive design to repurpose your recyclables. Create decorations that you can compost when the season’s over, such as dried citrus garland or dried orange pomander balls with cloves, that are festive and will make your house smell great all season long. Popcorn tree garland is also another great alternative to tinsel. Not the crafty type? You can also check out your local thrift shop for upcycled holiday décor.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree

Real trees are the real deal when it comes to their look, smell and feel. They also don’t require the carbon emissions it takes to produce and ship artificial trees. While approximately 30 million trees are sold to consumers for the holiday season, that’s a drop in the bucket to the number that are grown each year. When trees are growing, they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere, making tree farms great for the environment. When the holidays are over and you’re ready to say goodbye to your tree for another year, unlike artificial trees, real trees are biodegradable and can be composted, used for lumber, mulch or turned into fertilizer. Look for tree recycling programs in your community.

Follow these tips for a sustainable holiday season!