Ready or not, the holidays are here! That means it’s time for friends, family, hot chocolate and, of course, gift giving. But with all that good cheer and gift giving comes a whole lot of waste. The recycling experts at Waste Management have some yuletide tips that will make this your greenest holiday season yet.
Let’s start with that holiday gift list. Consider giving experiences or zero-waste gifts such as music or sports lessons, gym memberships, or tickets to a sporting event or concert. You can even make your own gift certificates for a special dinner for two at home or night out at the local art walk or a movie theater. And don’t forget thrift stores and consignment shops. You can often find one-of-a-kind items and stretch your money much further.
When it comes to wrapping those special gifts, avoid generating waste by making your own recycled wrapping paper with old maps, posters or pages from the newspaper or magazines. The comics section can be particularly good for a pop of bright color. In addition, sewn cloth gift bags can be reused every year! For holiday greetings and party invitations, consider e-cards. They’re great for sharing photos and keeping in touch while saving paper and postage.
Another way to green your holidays and put some green into your neighbor’s pockets is shopping local. By supporting Redmond stores and businesses, you’ll find unique gifts and reduce your carbon footprint. (Remember your reusable shopping bags!)
When your online orders arrive, remember that most packaging is recyclable. Cardboard boxes and non-foil gift wrap can go into your recycling cart.
What about decorating? Get creative and use recycled or compostable materials for your decorations this season. Decorate your home with paper snowflakes made from junk mail, hang garlands strung with popcorn and cranberries, get festive with an army of gingerbread men, and set out fragrant bundles of cinnamon sticks or ornaments of dried orange slices to make your home smell like your favorite holiday memories. Kids love getting involved in the decorations. So, when the next rainy day arrives like, say…tomorrow, try some DIY decorations to enjoy now and compost later.
The holidays are the perfect reminder to cherish the earth as much as we do our friends and family, so reduce your waste and give the gift of sustainability this holiday season.
Michelle Metzler is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager.