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How to reduce your waste during the holidays

The holidays are definitely the most waste full time of the season. A national study found that on average Americans households waste increases over 25%. That increase led to 6 million tons of waste dumped in the landfills in 2014 alone (and the tendency in increasing rather than reducing)! And the crazy thing is, 70% of Americans would welcome less gifts and less waste. Click here for more info.

Moreover, in the recent years, our consumption trend has been exploding so much, we have been consuming more natural resources than the planet can renew.  So much than this year, what we call the “Earth Overshoot Day” was on…. August 2nd. Yes, since August 3rd we have been consuming on credit. The problem is unlike the economy, our planet doesn’t generate resources from credits. Au contraire, it will take year and tremendous decrease in our consumption to avoid catastrophic consequences on the long run.

All this to say, this holiday season, let’s keep the trend of being thankful for what we have and do what we can to have a great time without over consuming resources the planet doesn’t have to offer. I dig in memory land and on internet to create a list of creative and fun ways to celebrate our loved ones and this cheerful season:

Don’t cut the tree, get a smaller one and plant it after the holidays!

Each year 50 million Christmas trees are bought for the holiday season in the U.S. and 30 million of them end up in landfills instead of being recycled. This recent discovery makes me wonder why don’t we, instead of cutting a tree, get a small, young Christmas tree, leave it in the a pot and come the post holidays time, plant it with our family! I had this idea recently (I’m sure I’m not alone) but as a spiritual person, I can only imagine the benefits for the tree to grow close to so many positive energies and being decorated before planted. Is there a better blessing we could offer a tree before planting it?!

If you don’t live in a Christmas tree friendly area, how about switching to another local type of tree or maybe use a plastic one that you can reuse every year. I know I don’t usually advocate for plastic based products, and I will leave this one to individual appreciation. My grand parents made that switch 15 years ago (they are too old to carry a big tree) and they have had the same one since then. Doing so, they saved 15 trees so far.

Go Hike and Get Your Ornaments in Nature.

Instead of buying plastic based decoration for the holidays, this year how about going on hikes and gathering pine apples, and small pine branches. I would advise against cutting them from the trees, but instead getting what has already fallen and is welcoming you on your path in the forest. I highly believe that doing so will create a greater and more positive atmosphere in your home that will benefit everyone in your home. It will be your very own, personal decoration that can easily be composted after the holidays of kept for the following year like pine apples.  Here is a series of great DIY projects you can do or get inspired by.

Make Gifts Yourself.

The year why not go crafty and make some of the gifts yourself! They are great ideas out there and with home-made gifts, you will be fully in charge of the packaging and can reduce it to a minimum. Among the ideas that I thought could be nice, I personally like Macrame. They are making a nice come-back and make really cool decor accent in the house. Plus, the process of making them is quite calming and fun (or you can buy a KIT for the person to make it too.. like this one.)

Another great zero-waste option is to make beauty gifts! Makeup, body butters, masks, exfoliants… They are great recipes available online to make nice high end products. Here is an article I found this week. It has a very nice selection Home-made Beauty Gifts. I would recommend checking out. They will be much more personal and appreciated than any store brand.

Finally, knitting. Instead of buying one, I believe that making a scarf of a blanket is still a cool and very precious gift to offer and receive.

a greener life - Purl soho ornaments

Photo by Purl Soho

Use scraps To Make Ornaments

This is another great alternative to buying decorations and ornaments, it to use scraps you collect from crafty projects. For instance, I recently made a macrame and the scraps are going to be used to make this ornaments you see on the picture made by Purl Soho. This idea comes from this article that has many creative ideas to decor the house while generating less waste.

Don’t have time for DIY? Shop in Antics and Thrift Stores!

Expect if you are planing to get the latest iPhone to your loved one, how about going in a nice thrift store or an Antic store to get that special something for your family? Doing so, you can shop for meaningful gifts without giving in to the never-ending increase of production.

Another idea is to offer plants. Small or tall, wI don’t thing there is such a thing in our world currently as too many plants… If you don’t think it’s a good idea, that is what my boy-friend and I both offered each other a plant last year for our first Christmas. It personally meant the world to me and I still have it and so does he 🙂

Offer Experiences Not Stuff

Another way to reduce our consumption is to not offer things, but experiences. Concert tickets, sports game tickets, or a spa session, wine or beer tasting or an adventurous session. The possibilities are endless. And can be much more personal sometimes. Learning experiences can be a good option such as piano classes, or classes to learn a language… Besides, doing so you will offer the only gift that I think truly matter and that we all take to the other side, you make the gift of memories.

Wrapping: Get Inspired By the Japanese Way Furoshiki

In our country, the annual trash from gift-wrap and gift bags generates 4 million tons. This is huge! In Japan, the traditional way to wrap gift is highly inspiring. They use a nice piece of fabric to wrap the gift. The fabric can be reused to wrap lunch boxes, to wrap new gifts, or be use for any other purpose. Here’s video I found online that makes cool wrapping gifts.

Turn On A light A Few Hours Per Day And Go LED

When you go to sleep, turn off your Christmas lights. They will serve no-one’s pleasure and will only consume unnecessary energy. And if you are planning of gettin new lights this year, buy them LED. This modern light technology uses a fraction of the energy consumed by traditional lights and are just as bright. You will save big on your electricity bill and on your energy consumption. Savings that I am sure will be welcomed when balancing the holiday budget. Here’s a link to the LED lights we bought.

I hope you will find this article useful. If you have tips that you’d like to share feel free to add in the comment section and don’t hesitate to subscribe to receive my monthly newsletter and keep up with a greener life.


a greener life - zero waste holiday christmas


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