Consider Homemade Gifts
Homemade gifts such as jams, jellies and DIY projects are more meaningful than the generic gifts you find in stores. In the United States alone, Americans spend a combined average of $465 billion a year, approximately $800 per person. One way to save your wallet this Christmas is to invest in DIY gifts. Making your own one-of-a-kind gift for your loved ones reduces carbon emissions from trips to the store and reduces the amount of packaging going to the landfill. Nearly 60 percent of Americans receive unwanted gifts. DIY gifts are thoughtful and made with love and can be made with items you already have at home. Homemade cookies, photo scrapbooks, paper lanterns, and homemade sugar scrubs are some great ideas. You can find more ideas here and on our LARA Pinterest page.
30 million Christmas trees are thrown away every year in the United States and end up in the landfill producing a very potent gas called methane, which is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Plastic trees often end up in the landfills after only a couple of years but can take hundreds of years to break down. Instead of artificial trees, you can opt for a living tree. A living tree is a smaller version of a Christmas tree and is perfect for apartments and condos, and it is still producing oxygen into the atmosphere. You can also look into another creative way to spread the holiday cheer such as a tree made of books stacked together or a shadow tree. With the world of innovative holiday cheer just a click away, the possibilities are endless. You can follow our Pinterest page for more inspiration and tutorials. If you decide to buy a cut tree, make sure it’s from a local tree farm and to recycle your tree through your City’s recycling program or drop off at a recycling center near you. For our readers and followers who live in Los Angeles, here is a handy map of City of LA Drop-off Centers near you.
Every year, the United States alone disposes approximately 226,800 miles worth of paper. To do your part in reducing the amount of waste that goes into the landfill, you can invest in Furoshiki, a traditional Japanese way of wrapping. Furoshiki is the art of wrapping in cloth or thin towels, which the Japanese usually use to carry their lunch. With the right tutorial and presentation, it can be used as an innovative and decorative way to wrap your gifts for your loved ones. For a tutorial on the art of Furoshiki, you can click here.
When buying wrapping paper, make sure you buy and use 100% recyclable wrapping paper or brown Kraft recycled paper. You can also look into other creative ways to wrap gifts, such as newspaper, toilet paper rolls and avoid wrapping paper with dyes and other chemicals that are not recyclable. Once the holiday festivities are over, make sure you to recycle all the paper used in your regular curbside collection bin.
Instead of buying a present for each of your loved ones or your group of friends, start a gift exchange or a Secret Santa tradition. Buying less presents means less stress, less expenses and less waste! It’s a win-win-win for everyone. You’ll save on carbon emissions, packaged waste, and wrapping paper waste will be reduced drastically. It is also very economical for your pockets.
Spreading Green Cheer
Educating your family on the environmental impacts of their holiday splurging is probably one of the most effective ways that you can help reduce waste. Most of the time when it comes to recycling and landfill, people don’t know what goes where. Teaching them to be mindful of their trash and waste will help eliminate this, and find out what specific items are recyclable in your city and what is not will be an essential tool for them. It really is dependent on what your city defines as acceptable curbside recycling. You can look at what is recyclable in your city here.
The holidays are a special time to join with friends, family, and loved one and this year is no exception but because of that, there will be many leftover and half-eaten dishes that will end up in the trash can. One way to prevent having too much leftover food is to plan and coordinate with your family on who brings what and who cooks what. Christmas dinner is often traditionally fit for our carnivore loved ones, but that can be harmful to the environment. To be more eco-friendly cut down on meat for your meals and consider adding more vegetarian dishes to your menu. You can avoid contributing to the harmful emissions left as a residual consequence in the atmosphere and you can find that it will be a more health conscious choice. If you are looking for inspiration, you can visit our Pinterest page. In an effort to be more sustainable, skip disposables and opt for the fancy china or reusable everyday plates and flatware. An estimated 40 billion plastic utensils are used in the United States annually, and the majority of those utensils are single-use. Remember to send leftovers home with guests. If you still have much food left over, consider reaching out to a food recovery organization in your area that can help feed people in need. A list of organizations can be found on our website.
Switch to LED Christmas lights. LED Christmas lights use 90% less electricity than regular Christmas lights, and can be purchased for $10 a strand. The electricity bill to light a strand of incandescent Christmas lights for 12 hours a day for 40 days comes to about $25.13 versus a strand of LED Christmas lights for the same allotted time would cost approximately $0.56. Limiting the time of use of Christmas lights can be a big help to keep an energy efficient home and unplugging phantom energy users are the most efficient way to save resources. Even when power strips and switches are off they still pull energy, so if you are looking to take a vacation make sure you are energy smart and unplug all your appliances and switches. If you are looking to save money and energy and still make the house look as festive as possible, consider decorating with soy based candles. They are festive enough for the holidays and will save you money and energy. Turn off the room lights when the Christmas tree is lit, and remember to turn off all outdoor and indoor lights before you go to bed.