Zero Waste Holiday Guide

Last updated on January 15th, 2021 at 04:27 pm

As the saying goes, ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year.’  The warmth and cheer that the holiday season brings every year are in full swing, but so is the trash. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s day, there is a 25% increase in landfill waste produced. From glittered holiday cards to plastic decorations and single-use casserole dishes, our trash bins begin to get fuller as the holiday season begins to evolve.  At Vermont Woods Studios, you know how much we love trees and want to repopulate the forest; that’s why we plant trees for every purchase made. When we found out that 15 million Christmas trees end up in landfills every year across the United States, in addition to the 25% increase in landfill waste, we know we had to do something.  Below are our top tips for you to have a zero waste holiday!

Decorations

Bright and colorful decorations with sparkling glitter make for an incredible sight. However, they are not recyclable or compostable at the end of their lives and have landfill written all over them.  Instead, use all-natural and compostable materials like popcorn, dried fruit, and gingerbread cookies to decorate your house! You can make centerpieces, ornaments, garland, and wreaths that you can throw into the compost after the holiday season.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

The debate for a real Christmas tree vs. a plastic one has been going on for decades. Recent studies have shown that buying a real Christmas tree is less detrimental to the environment and helps fight climate change compared to a plastic tree. Why? For every tree that gets cut down, two are planted. So although you may be cutting one tree down, you are helping restore our forests by planting two in its name.  Be sure to contact your local waste management company or compost facility to figure out how you can turn your tree into wood chips or compost. Let’s not put any more trees in the landfill where they emit methane gas into the atmosphere.

Pro Tip: Head to your local nursery and buy a real spruce tree that you can plant after the holiday season!

Candles

Pine cones with candle

Candles help bring the wonderfully crisp smells of the holidays inside with us, but did you know that most candles contain palm oil? Why does that matter? 25% of Indonesia’s rainforests have been clear-cut to make room for palm oil plantations.  This year, be sure to buy candles free of palm oil to help combat deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Or at the very least, buy your candles second hand or at a discount store to avoid purchasing firsthand candles that contain palm oil. Be sure to not purchase fake candles that are made of plastic and are battery operated, as they are non-recyclable.

Gifting

Wooden cutlery

Did you know that 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season? Batteries are a “hard to recycle” item that your curbside recycling program won’t accept. Instead of going for battery operated gifts that tend to break easily and are made to have planned obsolescence in mind, opt to buy long-lasting and quality gifts from sustainable brands.  We are big advocates of gifting items that support a circular economy. When shopping this holiday season, look for products that are reusable, refurbished, durable and long-lasting, made of recycled materials, and are recyclable or compostable at the end of their life. By supporting these types of products, we create a closed-loop system that reduces the overall resources used, waste, and emissions! Here are some of our favorite brands that support a circular economy, and also happen to be women-owned small business:

  • Plaine Products:  Provides refillable bath and body products
  • Life without Plastic: Offers a vast variety of plastic-free essentials for your journey towards a zero waste lifestyle.
  • Package Free Shop: Provides reusable solutions and closed-loop products for your everyday life.
  • Stasher: Offers reusable solutions to single-use plastic bags that you can freeze, cook, and store.

At Vermont Woods Studios, we also offer sustainably made products from a renewable resource (wood,) that are durable and long-lasting, a gift anyone will enjoy. If you are looking to gift one of your loved ones that are now working from home, check out our beautiful Invigo Cherry Sit-Stand Desk, which gives them the option of sitting or standing throughout the day, helping boost their productivity while improving their comfort dramatically. If you find yourself spending more time at the dinner table, check out our Woodland Custom Square Dining Table, to enjoy family meals and entertain friends and loved ones all year long.

Experiences

Stonehurst in the winter - Earth Day 2016
Stonehurst in the winter – Earth Day 2016

With traveling isn’t much of an option these days, the best way to still gift experiences can be through quality time outside. Find a place to go snowshoeing or ice skating. If snow isn’t around, go for a nice nature walk or a scenic drive to see holiday lights. Is distance an issue? Call up one of your loved ones and tell them how much you appreciate them. Ask them to take a virtual walk with you by jumping on the phone (no facetime) together and taking a walk outside in your own town. Just hearing your voice and seeing the effort is a gift that makes anyone smile. Take it one step further and sign up for a virtual experience, like a cooking class, that you can do together no matter the distance.

Another way you can gift experiences is by supporting nonprofits organizations that help protect the places we enjoy. By donating to a nonprofit organization in the individual’s honor, you can help ensure the protect the health of our environment and outdoor recreation activities.  Check out these organizations that are helping do just that, Protect Our Winters, Leave No Trace, Sierra Club, Changing Tides, 1% For The Planet.

Want to get a full list of environmental organizations? Head to 1% For The Planets website for a whole directory!

Final bite-size tips for a zero waste holiday

Holiday presents

  • Make cards out of recycled paper; avoid using glitter or glue to make it recyclable.
  • When holiday shopping, be sure to bring your reusable bag with you instead of using a single-use one.
  • If shopping online, ask for fully recyclable or compostable packaging and no plastic.
  • Use reusable napkins when eating instead of single-use napkins.
  • Bring your reusable utensils and container with you to avoid using plastic utensils or paper plates.
  • Wrap your gifts in recyclable kraft paper or newspaper instead of non-recyclable wrapping paper.
  • Don’t forget to compost your food scraps!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Marina McCoy

Marina McCoy is a Zero Waste & Recycling Expert and Founder/CEO of Waste Free Earth. Waste Free Earth is on a mission to reinvent how society produces and consumes waste through education, engagement, and empowerment. They are changing the current business culture to one that prioritizes zero waste systems over single-use landfill items. Personally, Marina has been living zero waste for the past six years and loves sharing her enthusiasm for waste reduction with anyone willing to learn.