There’s nothing like sitting among the shredded wrapping paper, untied bows, and empty boxes that are the ravages of a successful Christmas morning. The cat swats excess paper around the living room and your little cousins make crowns out of the bows. But then comes mom, trash bag in hand, scooping all that packaging up to be taken to the landfill.
The fact is that as wonderful as the holidays may be, they produce an enormous amount of waste.
Between Thanksgiving and New Years Americans throw out 25% more garbage than during the rest of the year. The packaging we throw out is estimated to cost eleven billion dollars per year. Food waste is also a huge problem, with Americans in 2016 trashing approximately 204 million pounds of turkey over Thanksgiving.
So what can we do to fix that here at Bard?
At the FreeUse store this Sunday, December 17th, there will be an ugly sweater making event at which sustainable gift and decoration ideas will be shared. Bring along a sweater to ugly-fi if you have one, and participate in other sustainable crafts. The event will be from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at FreeUse.
Ever seen dumpsters full of books around campus? Book pages are a great source of recyclable wrapping material. Conventional wrapping paper can be difficult to recycle—although there are recyclable and compostable types—so getting creative with your wrapping material is a great way to reduce waste. Newspaper, comics, maps, leftover fabric, and other reused/recyclable materials are great alternatives.
Be careful about the types of conventional wrapping paper you recycle. Paper that is shiny or contains glitter generally can’t be recycled, but wrapping paper that is only made from paper sometimes can. Check with your local waste collection company to see if they accept wrapping paper.
Cutting down trees is often viewed as a paradigm of anti-environmentalism, but in fact cutting down a live Christmas tree every year is more eco-friendly than buying a fake plastic tree. This is because Christmas trees tend to come from Christmas tree farms, and farmers plant several more trees for every one that is cut down.
Just make sure to recycle your tree when you’re done with it.
It’s also important to think when making your Christmas list, do I really want this? Make sure the things you are asking for, whether they be clothes, toys, gadgets, or something else, are actually things you will use. Giving to thrift stores or charities is a great way to delay unwanted gifts from being thrown out, but making sure those items aren’t produced in the first place is even better.
And remember, you can be green without being a grinch!