While many of us might want to lose a few pounds after the holidays, reducing our other ‘wasteline’ is also a worthy goal. The EPA estimates that the average American household increases its waste production by more than 25% during the holiday season. This translates to an extra 1 million tons of trash per week headed to landfills. One of the largest contributors to this trash increase is packaging.
Yes, recycling packaging whenever possible helps reduce the waste that winds up in landfills, but choosing to avoid packaging altogether is the better option. Shopping for gifts at local stores or craft fairs and purchasing food at farmers’ markets provide opportunities to choose package free or minimally packaged items. Even some of the big online retailers offer sustainable packaging options since they don’t have to rely on the packages to market their products.
Not all gifts have to come from a store. Homemade goodies like decorated cookies and handmade gifts like a terrarium in a pretty upcycled container or a bird feeder filled with seed and suet show that you put time and thought into your gift choices.
Gifts also don’t have to be something wrapped up in paper and ribbon. Experiences such as concert tickets, classes to learn a new skill, a membership that supports the arts, reservations for a weekend getaway, or a gift card from a favorite store or restaurant are a few package free options. With a little creativity and planning, you can enjoy the holiday season while still reducing the amount of waste that your family generates. And that is a gift in and of itself.