Be Less Wasteful This Holiday Season

December 2nd, 2022
Reading time: 5 minutes

The Brightmark editorial team focuses on providing insightful and valuable information to impact the planet positively and create a world without waste. Learn more about our methodology here.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year when we spend quality time with family, enjoy some time off work, and create lots and lots of waste.

*record scratch*

More waste?

According to Stanford University, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, equating to more than 25 million tons of extra garbage, or about one million tons extra produced each week.

That’s a lot of trash.

Like, a lot.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We tend to get so wrapped up (eh, pardon that pun) in the holidays that we seldom forget about sustainable practices. But judging by the numbers, this is the right time to think about the amount of waste we produce. 

If we can be conscious of our actions now, just imagine how much more effective we can be when we are not producing so much waste! 

As we find ourselves in a busy holiday season, here are some practical ways to reduce waste and feel better about your ecological footprint when the hustle and bustle are over.


Recycled Wrapping Paper is a Gift

Buying and using recycled wrapping paper is probably the easiest way to reduce your footprint this holiday season.

Most wrapping paper can be recycled as long as it doesn’t contain glitter, plastics, or anything else embedded that is not wrapping paper. Whether regular or glossy, you can recycle it when you’re done using it as long as you remove any extraneous bits, like tape or ribbon.

If you really want to be sustainable, consider wrapping gifts in something that can be a part of the gift, like a kitchen towel or a scarf. This adds to the thoughtfulness and eliminates waste right off the bat, which should make everyone feel good about the gift.


Christmas Trees: Get Real

Believe it or not, real Christmas trees are more sustainable than fake ones.

The reason? Carbon emissions.

Real trees don’t add to the massive carbon emissions we already emit into the atmosphere. The fake version requires massive amounts of carbon in the production of the trees and the energy needed to ship them around the world. 

Plus, fake trees cannot be recycled.

Real Christmas trees, on the other hand, are easily recycled into mulch when the holiday is over and are biodegradable if you don’t want to go through the process of mulching them. And most Christmas tree farms plant at least one tree for every tree that gets cut down, making it a sustainable source of holiday spirit that is sure to brighten your mood when you know you’re doing good for the environment.


Compost Your Food

There’s no doubt a lot of food waste will be created around the holiday table this year. If you’re of the sustainable mindset, you might cringe watching it get scraped into the garbage bin. 

Luckily, an easy solution can be implemented to take advantage of that waste and feel less bad about not eating a third helping of grandma’s infamous sweet potato casserole.

What’s the solution? Composting.

At its core, composting is recycling organic matter into fertilizer that can enrich the soil you use to grow food and plants. Rather than throwing away your food waste, it can be put into a composter that speeds up the decomposition process and turns it into compost that is rich in nutrients.

Composting is not a difficult endeavor to start, but there are some tips and tricks that one should heed if one decides to compost. We’ve put all our advice in a handy Composting 101 Guide that shares simple composting tips, ways to get started, and detailed information regarding what you can (and can’t) compost.

The holidays don’t have to be a wasteful time of year, but it does require some thoughtfulness to ensure you are not adding to the millions of tons of trash we generate as a society during the season of giving.

As we look to Reimagine Waste, we hope to give you some food for thought on reducing your ecological footprint and emerge from the holiday season feeling better about how you treat the planet and everything on it.

Man posing for professional headshot
Brad Marley

Brad is a lifelong storyteller who helps companies find their single source of truth. He works with brands in tech and sustainability to identify their most impactful narratives and ensure that messaging is weaved throughout their storytelling efforts. Brad brings more than 20 years of storytelling experience to bear as he helps Brightmark make its mark.

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