The next wave of holidays is right around the corner, and although we recognize this to be a wonderful time of the year, it’s also considered the most wasteful. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day alone, an added one million tons of waste will head to landfills each week.
While that may come as a shock, there are a variety of ways to combat unnecessary waste and help keep the holiday spirit alive. The more people that work to save energy and resources during the holiday season, the bigger the impact that can be made. Here are some tips to keep in mind for incorporating sustainability into those treasured holiday traditions:
- Choose Your Tree Wisely – While it’s not the most traditional option, buying an artificial tree that can be used for years to come is an energy efficient choice. If this option is unalluring and you choose to buy a real tree, opt for a living one that can be planted outside or kept as a houseplant after the holidays. If you don’t choose artificial or a tree to plant in your yard, once the holidays wrap up, dispose of your tree at a chipping facility or look for holiday tree composting drop-off locations in your neighborhood to do your share for cleaner air.
- Green Your Holiday Dinner Table – Whether you’re entertaining the entire extended family for the holidays or just a few close relatives, sourcing as many of your ingredients as possible locally helps to cut down on emissions produced by large transport trucks. The less your produce and supplies have to travel, the less waste is produced, and the smaller the environmental impact. Also, consider swapping out disposable plates, cups, napkins and silverware for your favorite set of dishes this year instead.
- Switch to Online or Recycled Greeting Cards – Take a greener approach to sending out season’s greetings to friends and family this year. Instead of paper cards, consider using e-cards or recycled paper cards to spread holiday cheer. E-cards are the optimal choice not only because there’s no paper needed, but also because there’s no delivery vehicle involved that contributes to harmful emissions. Reusing the fronts of old cards as holiday postcards or gift tags is another great way to help improve air quality.
- Gift Greener – Since nearly 35% of Americans have an unused Christmas present collecting dust in their closet, consider giving the gift of an experience to loved ones this holiday season. In doing so, oftentimes you’ll also be supporting the local community by gifting items like tickets to local theater performances, concerts, sporting events, local attractions and museum memberships. Gifting a used item from a second-hand shop or looking for items in your own home for a holiday exchange are also great ways to cut back on cost and green your holiday shopping. Using recyclable materials like fabric, old maps, newspapers or magazines for gift wrap is another easy way to reduce waste.
Making a few small changes to go green this holiday season can make all the difference in helping people across the St. Louis region breathe easier. For more information, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.