Brown and white wrapped gift on pine

‘Tis the season to be jolly,  and also, unfortunately, probably throw away a lot of stuff. From wrapping paper and packaging, to food waste and holiday decorations, there’s a lot of waste generated during this festive period. According to the EPA, American households generate 25% more waste, or an additional 1 million tons of extra waste in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. If you want to incorporate sustainability into your celebrations, we’ve compiled some tips to help you!

Smart Cards

For the organized among us, planning the holiday cards comes before the wrapping and yuletiding. In a very non-scientific, not statistically valid survey of our friends, family, and co-workers, the vast majority still prefer an actual card versus an ecard. We get emails by the bushel everyday, so an actual card, perhaps with a personal note, is special. Yet we all know that the traditional method of sending out paper cards in paper envelopes through a system requiring planes and delivery trucks uses a lot of resources.

So we were thrilled to find a company that lets us send cards without the hefty side of guilt. This year, we discovered Paper Culture that promises “sustainable holiday cards”. They plant a tree with every order. According to their website, they have planted over a million trees in areas where reforestation is most needed. They also make their cards from sustainable (100% recycled to bamboo) materials, purchase carbon credits to offset their carbon footprint, have been recognized by EPA as a Top 10 Climate Leader and are a certified Green Business. In other words, a fairly guilt-free way of sending an actual card to everyone on your list.

Recycle and Reuse! 

This is an easy one – from gift packaging, to Christmas trees, to your old electronics – try your best to either recycle or reuse! Think about the mounds of wrapping paper, tissue paper, and gift bags we use during the holidays, save what you can and use them again! You not only extend the life of those wrapping materials, but you save money by not having to purchase gift bags or tissue paper! 

Did you know most cities have Christmas tree recycling? If you’re in the Richmond area, check out this Christmas tree recycling information to find out what to do with your tree, or do a quick search to find a “Christmas tree recycling program” near you. 

Got a brand new cell phone, tablet, or laptop? Don’t just throw away your old one! There are so many options these days for recycling electronics. Several office stores have electronics recycling programs or buy back programs. These vary by location so search for electronic recycling events and programs in your area. If the item is still in working condition, you can also donate it to a local charity or school. 

Shop Local

Doing some last minute gift shopping? We all love the ease and convenience of two-day shipping but think about all the packaging that comes with that one thing you ordered. Instead of adding to your cart this season, try visiting a local artist or shop where you can be sure that your money is going directly to support an individual, their business and families. Bonus points if you bring reusable bags with you! 

Give the Gift of an Experience 

We all have that one person on our list that is just impossible to shop for. Instead of getting them another mug or trinket that will sit on a shelf collecting dust before going in the trash, give them the gift of an experience! Are they a little stressed out? A gift certificate for a spa treatment would probably be appreciated. Craft beer fanatic? Look up some brewery tours in your area! From concert tickets to museum memberships, the possibilities are endless!