Tips for less Wasteful and Stressful Holidays!

Happy Holidays from your EarthCare team!               

During the holidays, household waste increases by more than 25%. Food waste, wrapping paper, shopping bags, Christmas cards, bows, ribbons, boxes, decorations, lights and more add an additional 1 million tons of trash per week to our landfills.  Last time we shared some tips for greening Thanksgiving.  Here are some tips for making the holiday season less wasteful and less stressful. 

Raise Your Consciousness!

Conscious giving and celebrations are something you can integrate into your lifestyle over the years.  Choose a few of the following ideas to enable you to balance your time constraints, desires for meaningful holiday traditions, holiday dreams, and personal sanity.

  • Keep in mind many friends and acquaintances may not expect a gift, but might rather make a date to spend time together, or be just as pleased to receive a holiday card with a personal message and a photograph. 
  • Focus on the true meaning of Thanksgiving, Hanukah, and Christmas; you will likely recall that holiday traditions, gifts from the heart, homemade goodies, shared experiences, and holiday feasts are often the most precious memories of all. 
  • Make conscious purchases—buy local and buy green.  

Gift Giving

Take some time to think about and make a holiday gift list, so that the gifts you give will truly be used and appreciated.  Local antique and second hand stores and garage sales are full of treasures.  Gifts of service and gift certificates are also a good bet.  Keep the person in mind and think about what they will really use and enjoy.

  • Support local artists, stores, businesses, services, products, and holiday bazaars.
  • Give gifts that are an experience: a massage, a weekend away, a memorable event, a ski pass, movie passes, or a day at a salon/spa.
  • Give gifts of service, such as baby-sitting, landscaping service, or housecleaning.
  • Give gifts that are resource efficient: energy efficient light bulbs, a battery recharger, rechargeable batteries, solar powered device chargers, etc.
  • Give a gift certificate to: a gym, a nursery, a used or new bookstore, music store, or sporting good store.
  • Give gift baskets of organic fruits, coffees, teas, and gourmet treats.
  • Make hand-made crafts from reused materials such as recycled paper and fabric scraps.
  • Make homemade doll houses, play houses, bird, and bat houses from reused wood.
  • If you have a green thumb, give plant starts, seeds, gloves, garden tools, and / or decorative pots.
  • Give framed photographs and collages.
  • Give homemade treats, dinner invitations, fine wines.
  • Buy durable gifts with long-term warranties.
  • Make a donation to a mutually shared environmental or social cause.
  • Consider a solar hot water heater, and renewable energy investments like solar and wind.
  • One of the most cherished gifts is the gift of yourself. Help someone do something that would be difficult to tackle on their own. 

Gift Wrapping

It's easy to go overboard with gift-wrapping in an effort to create special and exciting gifts, but you can accomplish just that without excessive amounts of waste.  No-waste gift-wrapping can actually enhance the quality of your gift, showing that you have done something extra special.  It also shows that you've done something extra for the environment -- and it's a lot of fun in the process.  The wrapping paper that you do use can be recycled at the depot at the Knott Landfill.

  • Instead of disposable paper, make the wrapping part of the gift. For example, wrap a sweater in a matching scarf and tie it with a hair ribbon.
  • Use old tins, hatboxes, fabric and other containers.  Almost any reusable container or fabric can be used in a creative way.
  • Gifts can be “wrapped” in chests, purses, backpacks, colorful towels, tablecloths, napkins, and scarves.
  • Fabric, wallpaper scraps, old posters, blueprints, and maps also make great giftwrap.
  • Wrap or decorate a box and lid separately so they can be reused.
  • Have kids make their own wrapping paper with butcher-block paper, stamps, paints, or whatever art form they like best.
  • Use comics or newspaper for giftwrap.
  • Use reusable gift bags and boxes.
  • Reuse ribbons.
  • Use recycled wrapping paper.

As you prepare to mail holiday gifts, keep in mind that packaging waste is the single largest component of Oregon's, and the nation's solid waste stream.  Try to reuse things, such as large mailing envelopes, corrugated cardboard boxes, newspaper, shredded paper, and  "peanuts.”  If you don’t have any that you’ve stocked up, check for packing materials offered by local businesses, such as shredded paper, bubble wrap, or packing peanuts, you may even get them for free.  If you have too much packing material, you may want to donate your peanuts so others can reuse them.  Reusing materials not only conserves valuable natural resources, but also saves some money.

Trees, Parties, Cards, and Decorations

  • Buy a live tree and plant it outside afterwards.
  • Decorate with fresh pine, holly, and mistletoe trimmings.  These can be composted in the local yard waste collection bins. 
  • Consider buying a potted Norfolk Pine, fig tree, houseplant, or artificial tree that can be used every holiday season.
  • For holiday parties, try to avoid disposable dinnerware. For large parties encourage guests to bring their own dinnerware, or consider renting some.
  • Purchase party beverages in containers that can be recycled, such as aluminum cans or glass bottles. Provide clearly marked recycling containers to collect the recyclables.
  • Avoid disposable cups.  They are not recyclable. 
  • Cut up holiday cards from last year for gift tags, dinner place cards, or name tags.
  • Make your own Christmas cards from old Christmas cards, magazine pictures, and excess cardstock (ask your local printer) or buy cards made from recycled paper.
  • Use reusable glass icicles and garlands instead of disposable tinsel, particularly on cut trees.  This leaves the trees clean when recycled for mulch or compost; call your garbage hauler for recycling information.
  • Avoid single use decorations such as window stickers and spray snow.

Food and Food Waste

Producing, shipping and throwing away food has a huge environmental footprint.  Here are some ways to make food nourishing to you and the planet at the same time.

  • Buy and Eat Locally Grown Food

Buying only locally grown food is one good way to have a greener Thanksgiving. Locally grown tastes better than food that has to be grown and packaged for maximum shelf life, and it requires less fuel to reach store shelves. Locally grown food also contributes more to your local economy, supporting local farmers as well as local merchants.  Check out the Allen Street Neighborhood Center for subscriptions to locally grown produce.

  • Go Organic

Organic fruits, vegetables and grains are grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers; organic meat is produced without antibiotics and artificial hormones. The result is food that is better for your health and good for the environment. Organic farming also produces higher yields, increases soil fertility, prevents erosion, and is more cost-effective for farmers.

  • Cut waste and compost

Organic waste (mostly food and yard waste) make up almost HALF of the waste that goes into our landfill.  If you don’t already have a compost bin, use your holiday fruit and vegetable trimmings to start one. The compost will enrich the soil in your garden next spring.  OR, sign up for the new food waste collection service now available through Bend garbage and recycling companies. 

Doing your part to make the holiday season not only one of giving and receiving, but also respect for the Earth just adds to filling your heart and home with peace, joy and Christ consciousness.