From packing peanuts and cardboard boxes to food containers and scrap gift wrap, shopping around the holidays can create a lot of waste! According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, the United States generates one million extra tons of garbage per week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Here at ecomaine, we believe in following the waste hierarchy whenever possible to deal with waste – If you’re thinking about ways to save the planet while also saving money this season, here are some suggestions for ways to give a second life to materials that would normally get thrown out on the curb around the holidays…
Making your own gifts is not only a great way to personalize your gifts, but it can also save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re looking for some inspiration to get started, check your kitchen cabinets – great gifts can be made from pantry staples like sugar, essential oils, ground coffee, and honey. Try making a sugar body scrub by mixing a combination of coconut oil, granulated sugar, and lavender essential oils, or experiment with your own recipes.
For the baker or chef in your life, give them the gift of less plastic in the kitchen by making a low-maintenance beeswax wrap out of your old scrap fabrics. A combination of beeswax and pine rosin wax creates heat-activated cling to cover bowls and casserole dishes, or to wrap up your half-eaten sandwich. These wraps are washable with mild soap and water, and as an added bonus, they are biodegradable!
Instead of buying store-bought gift wrap for your loved ones this year, consider using common household items like old paper shopping bags, toilet paper tubes, and leftover builder’s paper, which is made from recycled paper and costs much less than traditional wrapping paper. You can personalize each gift by decorating the outside with dried flowers or your own fun designs.
Want to wrap your gift in a gift? Packing those goodies into a mason jar, reusable tote bag, or a fabric gift wrap that can be re-gifted next year!
Already purchased and wrapped all your gifts for this year? No problem! Keep the leftover cardboard boxes, polystyrene foam, and tissue paper for other year-round projects and kids’ crafts like tea light lanterns made with minced garlic jars and used tissue paper, or foam stencils and stamps. Make sure to save your unused gift wrap for next season, and reuse and recycle whenever possible.
Taking small steps to cut down on your holiday waste can significantly reduce your carbon footprint, save you some extra cash, and save those items from a lifetime in the landfill. Want more suggestions for more environmentally-friendly holidays? Check out our holiday video tips, follow us on social media, and send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy holidays, ecomaineiacs!