The environmental impact of the holiday season

Posted on Categories Blog, Going Green

It’s hard to believe, but another holiday season is upon us. As we decorate our homes, plan celebrations with family and friends and exchange gifts, our impact on the environment isn’t often top of mind. Unfortunately, what’s often considered “the most wonderful time of the year,” isn’t so wonderful for the environment. Consider the following:

  • 8,000 tons of wrapping paper are used during the holidays each year, equating to roughly 50,000 trees.
  • The 2.65 billion holiday cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high.
  • Household waste increases by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
  • Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons add up to an additional 1 million tons of trash going into landfills each week.
  • On average, food travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.

These statistics are shocking, but thankfully, there are numerous steps we can all take to celebrate in a greener way this holiday season. Below are some ideas that can reduce environmental impact.

  • Drive less. If each family reduced holiday gasoline consumption by one gallon, or opted to drive 20 miles less, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by one million tons.
  • Reduce energy use by purchasing LED holiday lights. LED bulbs use up to 95% less energy than traditional holiday lighting.
  • Opt for ground shipping for online purchases. Ground shipping uses less fuel than air transport.
  • Recycle wrapping paper. Each ton of mixed paper that is recycled can save the energy equivalent of 185 gallons of gasoline.
  • Avoid accumulating plastic shopping bags by leaving canvas or paper bags in your car to use on shopping trips.
  • Send e-cards or recycled cards.
  • Decorate with natural, biodegradable items like cranberries, popcorn and live flowers and greenery.
  • Look for holiday tree composting drop-off locations in your neighborhood.
  • Cut back on waste by utilizing reusable glassware, flatware, dishware table coverings and napkins.
  • Provide containers for recycling aluminum and glass beverage bottles and cans.
  • Serve organic or locally grown foods and prepare only as much food as needed.

Explore our website for information on ways to live greener year-round and for additional steps you can take to help improve air quality. We also encourage you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.


25 Holiday Facts