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More merry, less waste

A hand beneath a chalk drawing of a green gift box.

Baked goods are a wonderful, eco-friendly gift.

Dec. 8, 2019—A happy holiday season often includes shopping for gifts, decorating our homes and sending cards. But these traditions can also create a lot of extra waste. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, in fact, Americans generate 25% more trash than at any other time during the year.

So how can you make the holidays more sustainable? Here are a few small ideas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that might make a big difference.

Shop with the environment in mind

  • Make your holiday shopping eco-friendly. Bring reusable shopping bags, and carpool or take public transit whenever you can.
  • Buy recycled holiday cards or make your own.
  • Wrap gifts sustainably. Leave the new wrapping paper at the store, and use old newspapers or scraps of fabric instead. Or package your gifts in a reusable tin or box.

Go green with your seasonal gifts

  • Buy gifts that benefit your community, such as gift cards to local businesses, museum passes or tickets to the theater.
  • Consider donating money to a charity in your friend or family member's name.
  • Make your own presents! Gifts that are knitted, baked or built from scratch are more personal and often more environmentally friendly.
  • If you do buy a new present for someone, make it durable and energy-saving.

Decorate with care

  • If your decorations include a real tree, pick one that you can keep as a houseplant after the holidays or plant outside.
  • For artificial trees, choose the newest, most energy-efficient one. It will last for years and make the holidays even more sustainable.
  • Switch from standard lights to LED lights, which use much less energy.
  • Reuse as many decorations as you can each year. And before buying new ones, consider whether you can make them yourself.
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