The holidays are hectic time of year – from family gatherings, work functions, big meals, gift exchanges, holiday parties, and potlucks – the environmental toll from all the holiday madness is truly staggering.
Various environmental groups have come up with the numbers on just how much waste is created during the holiday season:
- Household waste increases 25% in the US between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
- 6 billion cards are sold each year in the US during the holidays – enough to fill a football field 10 stories high!
- Half the paper consumed in the US is used solely for the holiday season.
- If everyone sent one less card it would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
- 28 billion pounds of food gets wasted every year during the holidays.
- 33 million live trees are sold in North America every year for the holidays – most which will be tossed out.
- $800 is the average amount Americans spend on gifts each year.
- 40% of battery sales happen during the holiday season.
The cards, gifts, food, trees and travelling are all a pivotal part of the holidays but take their toll on the environment.
Don’t go canceling your holiday plans just yet my eco-conscious friends – there are solutions for making the season a little greener without giving up the staples that make the holidays season so special:
- Instead of paper cards send e-cards
- Buy cards made from recycled materials.
- Wrap gifts in reused wrapping paper, newspaper.
- Save and reuse old gift bags that you’ve received gifts in.
- Reduce e-waste by including rechargeable batteries with gifts that require them.
- Buy LED lights and make be sure to shut off any decorative lights when you aren’t home or when you go to bed to reduce energy consumption.
- Cutting your gas consumption by 1 gallon or 3.78 liters (20 miles or 32 kilometers) during holiday travels would prevent 1 million tons of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere.
- Buy an artificial tree instead of a real one.
- Get a potted tree that way you can plant it after the season is over.
- Avoid buying cheap gifts that break easily, ultimately ending up in landfills.
The environmental impact of your actions should always be on your mind and the holiday season is no exception, the amount of waste created during December makes it by far the least sustainable month of the year.
As long as we modify our behavior accordingly, having a “green” holiday season won’t be that difficult to achieve.