Quantcast

7 Ways to Be Less Wasteful This Holiday Season

Piles of food, piles of presents, piles of holiday guests—it all adds up to piles of waste. And while the wrappings and boxes might temporarily make great playthings for your cats, what do you do with it all in the excess? And how do you make sure there is less of it to begin with?

They look so pretty under the tree, but what do you do with the trash after they're unwrapped?
Photo credit: Shutterstock

1. Be creative in wrapping your presents. Recycle materials you already have on hand to make gift wrapping. Wrap gifts in newspaper and decorate it. Or wrap gifts in another, reusable gift. For instance, wrap those cute salt and pepper shakers in some pretty dish towels. Instead of a bow, find a little trinket or toy the recipient can keep and reuse.

2. Once you've got the wrapping and ribbons on hand, save them all. They can fuel craft projects at your local school or for a girl scout troop all year long. Do the same with the Christmas cards, something scout troops have been doing for decades. They were recycling pioneers!

3. Give "virtual" gifts instead of things. Promise your grandparents a dinner at their favorite restaurant; give your science-loving niece a membership at the natural history museum. Movie passes and books of restaurant discount coupons are great gifts too. Think about what your recipient likes to do and contribute to the cost of doing it.

4. Be sure to keep recycling. It's easy to become overwhelmed with and say "the heck with it," and just throw everything together. Don't! And make it easy for your guests to do so too. Don't leave them wondering where to dump the leftovers and trash. Sure, your family knows, but visitors won't. Label everything.

5. Make your last-minute shopping trips more efficient. Make a list of things you need to do and make one final trip instead of going back and forth. Not only will this conserve gas, but it will save your time and your sanity. And be sure to take reusable totes. You don't want to contribute to the mass of one-use plastic bags you probably have stuffed in a drawer somewhere.

6. To reduce your environmental footprint shop local for food. Go to farmers markets, many of which now run year round. Not only are you supporting your local economy, but you are cutting down the climate impact of long-distance shipping of food. And you can make sure you're buying from farmers/food producers who use sustainable practices instead of consuming foods coming from climate-damaging factory farms.

7. Be careful with the quantity of food you prepare. Everyone worries there won't be enough, but what about when (as is more typical) there's too much? Plan the menu so that you're not left with heaps of highly perishable food, but rather things that can be recycled for future meals. Or look around to find a group that does regular community meals. Many of us think about volunteering to feed the hungry and homeless on the holidays, but they eat all the time, and many organizations provide meals week in and week out. Help them out, and maybe you'll find yourself coming back to volunteer even when it's not Thanksgiving or Christmas.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Are You Making These 7 Common Recycling Mistakes?

The Global Downfall of the Plastic Bag

How to Make Your Holiday Merry—and Nontoxic

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Serena and Venus Williams have been known to follow a vegan diet. Edwin Martinez / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Whitney E. Akers

  • "The Game Changers" is a new documentary on Netflix that posits a vegan diet can improve athletic performance in professional athletes.

  • Limited studies available show that the type of diet — plant-based or omnivorous — doesn't give you an athletic advantage.

  • We talked to experts about what diet is the best for athletic performance.

Packed with record-setting athletes displaying cut physiques and explosive power, "The Game Changers," a new documentary on Netflix, has a clear message: Vegan is best.

Read More Show Less
An illegally trafficked tiger skull and pelt. Ryan Moehring / USFWS

By John R. Platt

When it comes to solving problems related to wildlife trade, there are an awful lot of "sticky widgets."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be both good and bad.

On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less

By Joe Vukovich

Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.

Read More Show Less