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.
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 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Make the holidays special for those in need. By donating handmade gifts and items you no longer need, you'll declutter your home and make someone's day at the same time. Find out where to donate to your local charities here.
- Don't forget to compost your food scraps!