‘Tis the season for holiday cheer! While your festivities likely look different this year, there are a few things that remain the same: you’re wrapping presents, cooking traditional meals and decorating your house for the holidays.
While the season of giving is a magical time, it also leads to a significant increase in waste. An estimated 25 million tons of extra trash is produced in the United States from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Additionally, an average two million pounds of wrapping paper end up in landfills after the holidays.
Though we’ve had to adapt to the changes this year has brought, we can still be mindful of our actions when it comes to reducing waste! So, before you decide to toss those cardboard containers or purchase another box of bows, consider how to decrease your footprint on our home, Arizona.
Transform your holidays into an environmentally friendly season by repurposing and reducing waste with these festive ideas:
Find alternative gift wrap options.
Ribbons, bows and wrapping paper, especially if it has glitter on it, are not recyclable according to Republic Services. Consider using old maps, scarves, fabric or cloth materials to wrap gifts. Top presents with cinnamon sticks, pine or eucalyptus leaves instead of bows. Lastly, paper grocery bags make for the perfect eco-friendly wrapping option. Draw Chanukah menorahs, candy canes or mistletoe on them to add a cheery touch of detail.
Reuse what can’t be recycled.
From holiday decorations to gift bags, reusing items can save time, money and resources. For example, you can upcycle torn wrapping paper by fashioning them into envelopes for holiday cards, designing ornaments, streamers and other décor, or by learning the art of origami and creating your own bows. No need to shy away from reusing gift bags or keeping the same holiday decorations as last year. Repurposing is always in style.
Trim your tree by stringing popcorn, cranberries or dried orange slices for a unique and energy-efficient option. If your heart is set on holiday lights, consider solar-powered twinkly lights, rechargeable batteries or purchase LED lights—which last longer than other bulbs and save energy. Don’t forget to add a timer so you can set your holiday lights to automatically turn off late at night.
Skip the single-use plastics.
Plastic utensils or Styrofoam plates and cups ultimately accumulate in landfills. Instead, opt to use dinnerware for your meals that can be safely washed afterwards. Make the switch to a reusable water bottle or coffee mug, and simply pass on the plastic straws. Making a grocery run? Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags!
Give cardboard a new life.
This year, U.S. consumers spent more than two billion dollars on online shopping according to AZ Big Media. With the increase of cardboard boxes piled next to your recycling bin, the holidays are the perfect opportunity to repurpose them into ornaments or to utilize them as gift boxes. If you decide to toss them out, it’s important to take the time to break down those cardboard boxes and recycle properly.
Support a good cause.
Shop brands that give back. Donate to organizations like Arizona’s Adopt-A-Highway, which directly supports volunteer efforts to remove litter off of freeways across the state. Choose to shop locally (and safely!) in your area. Not only will your gifts be more unique, but you’ll also reduce carbon emissions and support small businesses.
Make a difference in your community.
Embrace the holiday spirit and give back to your community. Organize a litter cleanup in your neighborhood! Wear gloves and a protective face covering while staying a safe distance from others. If you are planning a holiday hike, consider taking along a garbage bag and collecting litter you see on the trails while maintaining social distancing. Positive actions like these are what the season is all about.
As this year comes to a close, Don’t Trash Arizona is reflecting on the beautiful gift that is our home state of Arizona and how we can best protect it for generations to come. Every action, whether big or small, makes a world of difference. Visit our website www.donttrashaz.com to learn more.