The holidays are finally here! I must admit, I am a big fan of the holiday season and all that comes with it. From listening to Christmas carols, to sparkling lights, to sharing meals with friends and family, to exchanging gifts with loved ones – this season has it all. And while I am certainly on board with the spirit of giving, I am also cautious not to conflate it with the over-consumption and excess waste often associated with the holiday season.

In fact, this New York Times article reports that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans produce nearly 25% more waste than they usually do, which works out over one million extra tons of garbage each week.

Some of the lead contributors to this problem are food waste, tinsel, and traditional gift wrap that is pocked with glitter or coated with plastic. According to the article, on average, Americans discard 38,000 miles of ribbon, $11 billion worth of packing material and 15 million live Christmas trees. Yikes.

Since the holidays are about giving, I challenge all readers to give back to the environment by being critical of the way we celebrate the holidays and focusing on sustainability. Here are some helpful tips:

  • If you are a last-minute shopper and still have gifts to buy, think local, small shops that support the local economy while emphasizing sustainability
  • Wrap your gifts using raw recycled wrapping paper and some twine, or perhaps upcycle things you already have in your home
  • Don’t throw out leftovers, ask family members to bring containers and take home as much as they can
  • Try to make your own decorations using natural, bio-degradable items such as orange peels and popcorn
  • Don’t use plastic cutlery to save time on the post meal clean-up (isn’t that why we have kids?)
  • Separate your garbage, recycling, and compostable food items

It’s important to remember that every little bit helps, and less really is more. Taking the time to give back to our environment is a gift that costs you nothing, yet benefits so many living species as well as generations to come.

Wishing you all a happy, safe, and environmentally friendly holiday season.

Thanks for reading!

Christina Canestraro