Your household waste output increases significantly over the holiday season (starting with Thanksgiving and ending with the New Year), and you aren’t the only offender.
Nearly every home in America has the same problem, which can spell trouble for our already overflowing landfills (not to mention your utility bills as your energy and water consumption shoots sky high). But there are tons of ways to cut back on waste, conserve energy, and still have a happy holiday season. Here are a few ideas to get you off on the right carbon foot.
You Reduce Waste at Home When You:
- Use energy-efficient lighting. While you have probably already installed energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) around the house to help with your electric bill, they just don’t seem to give you the ambience you want around the holidays. Let’s face it: lights are part of the season. However, you can go green with your illumination in a couple of ways. For starters, keep the lights off altogether and opt for the homey glow of candles instead. And as for strings of lights for the tree (or the eaves), look for LEDs that use a fraction of the energy (up to 90% less!) and last a lot longer than the competition.
- Cut back on material gifts. Buying gifts for a long list of recipients is not only hard on the environment; it’s also a detriment to your rapidly dwindling savings. Combat both by cutting back on purchasing manufactured items. Instead, opt for gift cards (which produce far less waste) or try some DIY projects for that homemade feel. At the very least, you can make your own holiday cards from recycled paper. And you may be able to do even better by creating candles or bath salts in your own kitchen (both can be poured in recycled glass jars that previously held pasta sauce or jam).
- Use alternative gift wrap. Forget about the shiny paper that cannot be recycled. Instead, consider one of the many options available from companies that offer 100% recycled paper products, or simply reuse household items like newspaper or maps that have been languishing in a desk drawer since you got your GPS. You can even use cloth bags (or reusable grocery bags from the market) to wrap your gifts in a greener fashion.
- Save your scraps. Instead of throwing away the tons of leftovers that have set up shop in your fridge, consign them to the compost pile for use in your garden come spring. This will not only help to cut back on the waste that gets sent to rot in the landfill, it will help you grow all your favorite vegetables and flowers in just a few months.
- Get a greener tree. One of the worst offenders when it comes to seasonal waste is a cut tree (or rather, the millions that are tossed on the heap come January). And since it’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to keep a potted tree alive year-round just for use during the holidays, you may want to invest in a decent fake tree. You might pay a bit more initially than you would for a cut tree off the lot, but when you consider how much you stand to save in the coming years, it will definitely put you in the holiday spirit.