Avoid the Conspicuous Consumption Hangover

Elizabeth Marglin

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

While unwrapping presents has a certain thrill, collecting the waste afterwards is something of a buzz kill. According to Stanford University, “Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week.” Here are some tips for greening your holidays and lightening that landfill load.

Tips for Reducing Holiday Waste

The rap on wrapping paper
Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper, brown paper bags, fabric or bandannas, or the Sunday comics (you can collect throughout the year). Give gifts in baskets, tins or jars. Or forego wrapping paper entirely by just adding bows to holiday shopping bags or gift boxes. According to Stanford, “if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.”

Light the way
LED lights can last up to 10 times longer, use 80% less energy than traditional incandescent holiday lights and are ENERGY STAR qualified. LEDs durability make them worth the investment. Plus several retailers and other organizations accept holiday lights for recycling.

Recharge your batteries
A whopping 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts–consider giving a battery charger too. Newer models take as little as 20 minutes to charge. Rechargeable batteries are a win-win, saving you money and helping the environment at the same time.

Catalog the waste
The holidays bring a plethora of catalogs for your viewing and purchasing pleasure. When the season forgiving is over, put a stop to the mail invasion. As soon as you receive an unwanted publication, call their 1-800 number and ask to be removed from their list.

Free the trees
Admittedly trees look great when decorated—but there is something forlorn about a browning tree destined for the landfill. Approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year. Let’s not send all of them to their doom. After the holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. Check with your community solid waste department and find out if they collect and mulch trees. Your town might even be able to use chippings from mulched trees for hiking trails and beachfront erosion barriers.