According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, households in the U.S. increase their waste by more than 25 percent. Holiday decorations, food waste, shopping bags, and packaging contribute an additional million tons a week to our landfills. Snapshots of this phenomenon include an estimated 38,000 miles of ribbon (enough to wrap around the planet), $11 billion worth of packing material, 2.3 million pounds of plastic wrapping paper, and 15 million used Christmas trees.
These merry decorations head to landfills, where they undergo bacterial decomposition, producing “landfill gas”, mostly made up of greenhouse gases including methane, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Carbon dioxide and methane are the two most prevalent greenhouse gases emitted in the United States from human activity.
As many have become more invested in sustainability, it’s important to take efforts during the holiday season to reduce your environmental impact. Read our list of tips below for straightforward and easy ways you can practice sustainability and #EcoLogic during the holiday season.
Greengifting is an emerging trend that results in a lower environmental impact as well as a lower impact on personal budgets from the gift-giving process. Gift options vary, such as regifting never-used objects, making gifts by hand, or gifting a membership to a local zoo, museum, or state and national park. How do you gift it? Use recycled wrapping paper and other decors.
Even if you’re not greengifting, you can reuse wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, boxes, gift bags, and other holiday-related decorations this year and for years to come. If you don’t have a supply of saved-up decorations yet, this can be the year to start building it up!
As many eco-conscious people sort their garbage with the intention of reducing harmful environmental impact, many people accidentally assume that some items are recyclable as is.
This is a common misconception when it comes to wrapping paper. The American Forest and Paper Association recommends using the Scrunch Test as a guideline to determine whether to trash or recycle it. Crinkle the paper up into a ball; if it stays that way when you let go, it’s fine to put it in the recycle bin. If it tries to go back to its original shape, it should go to the landfill.
Another headache is cardboard boxes, especially as online orders are on the rise this year.
"This year many gifts will arrive to households in corrugated boxes, which are designed to be recycled," said Heidi Brock, President and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association. "These recycled paper fibers can be used at least seven times to make new paper products. We ask consumers to remove any non-paper packing materials, break boxes down flat, keep them dry and clean and place them in the recycling bin." Remember that packing peanuts and bubble wrap are not recyclable.
While bright lights are a staple of the holiday season, try to reduce your energy use by turning off decorative lights when you’re not at home. The EPA recommends choosing Energy Star energy-efficient lighting. LED outdoor holiday lights use 1/50th the electricity of conventional lights and last 20 to 30 years.
During the holiday season, the same large corporations that reap most of the profits have largely contributed to environmental damage that also harms animal and human life. According to Adobe, giant Ecommerce sites perform better than smaller sites in a shopping world that has increasingly gone digital. Shopping at community-oriented small businesses is not only the eco-friendlier choice, but it’s an investment in sustainability.
It’s even better if those small businesses are eco-friendly! Make your loved one's shift to a sustainable lifestyle more easily by purchasing gifts from eco-friendly businesses that sell products that do not harm the environment, animals, and humans.
Logic Products are designed with this in mind as we create safe and non-toxic personal care products made with natural ingredients and botanicals. Furthermore, in addition to plant and mineral-derived vegan formulas, our gentle hair and skincare products are cruelty-free with no synthetic fragrances or dyes.
“Frequently Asked Questions: Holiday Waste Prevention”, Peninsula Sanitary Service/Stanford Recycling at Stanford University.
Grace Doran and Jessica Kidwell, “Creative Ways to Cut Your Holiday Waste”, The EPA Blog, December 21, 2016.
“How to Recycle Paper During the Holiday Season”, American Forest & Paper Association, December 20, 2018.
Jamie Leventhal, “What to do with all of your holiday trash”, PBS, December 21, 2018.
Jillian Ambrose, “Major global firms accused of concealing their environmental impact”, The Guardian, June 16, 2019.
Milenko Martinovich, “What is the Human Cost of Climate Change?”, Science of Caring at University of California San Francisco, December 2019.
Sarah Blount, “ 'Tis the Season...To Take out the Trash?”, National Environmental Education Foundation.
Stan Horaczek, “2020 is the perfect year to quit wrapping paper”, Popular Science, December 21, 2020.
“Top US Food and Beverage Companies Scope 3 Emissions Disclosure and Reductions”, Engage the Chain, 2019.
Ty Kiisel, “4 Reasons Small Businesses Don’t Rely On Black Friday”, OnDeck.