Simple Steps to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season New

With growing concern about climate change, this holiday season is a time to try and celebrate in a more planet-friendly way. Simple changes in the way we wrap gifts, send cards, decorate and entertain can reduce a lot of waste. (And often save money in the process.)

“This is the year to approach the holidays with sustainability in mind. It’s a great way to feel good at the start of the giving season, ”says Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of Real Simple.

Think carefully about what you buy, says Melissa Ozawa, reporting and garden editor for Martha Stewart Living, “and focus on the things that make sense and last.”

This often means natural and recyclable materials.

“Now more than ever, it’s good to ask, ‘Do I really want this? Will I use it? What is the impact on the planet? Ozawa said.

Some activities to see:

AP / Ten Thousand VillagesWrap: This gift wrap is made from recycled saris by artisans in Bangladesh. The company says sales have grown steadily since the packaging was introduced in 2013. (Ten Thousand Villages via AP)

Gift wrap

The discomfort over waste paper is driving many people to turn to reusable bags and other options. Some companies that make wrapping paper have launched recyclable lines or have removed glitter, which is not recyclable, from their products.

Vaccariello recommends stocking up on gift bags and ribbons that come your way and reusing them.

Or consider things like old cards, magazine pages and decorated Kraft paper as recyclable gift wrap, and spruce them up with scented sprigs of rosemary or evergreen leaves, says Amy Panos, home editor at Better Homes & Gardens.

She and Ozawa love the Japanese tradition of furoshiki, in which gifts are elegantly wrapped in fabric. The pretty and sturdy wrapping fabrics can be found in stores or online.

Or use colorful tea towels or scarves, making the wrapping fabric part of the gift itself. Better Homes offers a guide to fabric wrapping on their website.

Simple Steps to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season

This image provided by Better Homes & Gardens shows gifts wrapped in fabric. (Jacob Fox / Better Homes & Gardens via AP)

Greeting cards

“The tide has really turned and it’s good to give and receive electronic cards. There are so many digital options now, and people are enjoying it so much, ”says Vaccariello.

Those who stick with traditional cards can opt for those printed on recyclable paper and ignore those with glitter or foil.

Cards from California-based, for example, are printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. To offset its carbon footprint, the company says it works both locally and with the Arbor Day Foundation and Trees for the Future, pledging to plant a tree for every order.

“There is room, and a demand, to save the planet while having things that are inspiring in the way they are designed,” said CEO Christopher Wu.

Simple Steps to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season

Better Homes & Gardens / AP You can do this: This image provided by Better Homes & Gardens shows a garland made from recycled egg cartons.


Again, think about reuse and recycling, says Vaccariello. Greenery left by pruning a tree or cut from the outside can be used in wreaths or garlands, for example.

Greeting cards from last year can be cut out and hung as decorations, says Panos.

If your holiday lights are old, replace them with energy-saving LEDs, says Ozawa, at Martha Stewart Living. According to Energy Star, they use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and will last for years longer, she says.

Simple Steps to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season

AP / Better Homes & GardensUpcycle: This image shows diorama ornaments made from recycled mason jar lids.


Artificial or real? “The most environmentally friendly choice would be to buy a real Christmas tree from a local farm,” explains Ozawa.

“Trees are grown for the purpose of being cut and new trees are usually replanted every year, so the cycle continues,” she says.

“Buying local means it hasn’t used tons of fossil fuels to get to you. Plus, many municipalities pick up trees after the holidays and chop them up to use as mulch, so you don’t add more to the landfill. And you can’t beat the smell of a freshly cut tree.

If you buy an artificial tree, she says, plan to use it for many years.

“I would also consider the material of the artificial tree. When making your decision, ask yourself: is it made with recycled materials? Or can it be recycled? Ozawa suggests.

Simple Steps to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season

This image provided by Better Homes & Gardens Walmart Collection shows lidded serving bowls. Give a food gift, such as a batch of cookies or candy, hidden inside the bowl and let the bowl be part of the gift. (Walmart Better Homes & Gardens Collection via AP)


When hosting a gathering, avoid single-use plastics and go for greener options, like regular plates and cups. If single use seems inevitable, choose compostable versions made from bamboo or sugar cane, says Vaccariello.

“Just make sure you put clearly labeled bins for compostable and recyclable products,” Panos recalls. “Otherwise, it will always end up in the trash. “

Instead of giving guests a plastic gift bag or dog bag when leaving, save the take-out containers and reuse them, she suggests.

“And at the end of the party, consider donating unopened bags or cans to a pantry,” Panos adds.

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