The holiday season brings joy to many, but it also creates a lot of waste. We’ve compiled a list of 12 ways you can reduce waste and have a more sustainable holiday.
Day 1: Reuse, Recycle, or Compost Shipping and Gift Boxes
According to the EPA, cardboard waste makes up 31 percent of landfill waste. With so many people relying on online shopping this year, the cardboard boxes can start to pile up, and you may not know what to do with them. Instead of throwing cardboard in the trash, find ways to reuse or recycle them.
You can reuse these boxes to wrap gifts or pack up holiday decorations. If you don’t have a way to reuse them, you can recycle or compost them. You can also compost uncoated (not shiny) gift boxes. Be sure to discard any plastic and rip or shred the cardboard before adding them to your GEOBIN Composter.
Day 2: Reduce Gift Wrap Waste
Each year, Americans use 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper, half of which ends up in landfills across the country. Just because it’s paper doesn’t mean it can be recycled or composted. In general, wrapping papers that are glossy or have a plastic, waxy, or metallic coating cannot be recycled or composted.
Instead, you can use plain brown paper bags or craft paper, which can be made more festive by adding custom designs or non-toxic embellishments. Be sure to avoid anything that may contain heavy metals.
You could also wrap your gifts with newspaper, as most inks used today are soy-based. Avoid composting glossy inserts or magazine pages, though.
If you receive gifts wrapped in decorative wrapping paper, resist the urge to rip them open and try to preserve the wrapping paper to reuse next year.
Day 3: Compost Newspaper Ads
If you still enjoy print publications but dislike the waste from endless newspaper ads around the holidays, turn them into nutrient-dense compost! Most printers use soy-based ink, which is perfectly safe to compost. Just be sure to avoid composting glossy flyers as they can contain plastic. Recycle those instead.
Day 4: Reduce Food Waste
According to the EPA, “Over 70 billion pounds of food waste reaches our landfills every year, contributing to methane emissions and wasting energy and resources across the food supply chain.”
This year you can help reduce food waste by being mindful about what you purchase and prepare for your holiday meals and composting what you can.
- Clean & organize your pantry and refrigerator: This will help reduce stress while preparing your meal and allow you to take inventory of the ingredients you already have so you don’t purchase more than you need.
- Use a food planning calculator to create your shopping list.
- Repurpose leftovers.
- Compost scraps and leftovers.
Day 6: Give the Gift of Composting
The GEOBIN® Composter makes a great gift for friends and family members interested in composting but intimated by the idea. Order the GEOBIN online.
Day 7: Compost Popcorn & Cranberry Garland
Before holiday decorations and ornaments were mass-produced, people would adorn their trees with fruits and other household items. Popcorn became popular in the 19th and 20th centuries because it was relatively inexpensive and seen as a festive and fun treat. People often added cranberries for a pop of color.
If you’re opting for a thrifty and eco-friendly holiday, pop some corn this weekend and create your own popcorn & cranberry garland. When the holidays have passed, add the popcorn and berries to your compost.
Day 8: Compost Poinsettias
More than 35 million potted poinsettias are sold every year in the US, accounting for almost one-quarter of the potted plants sold. Instead of throwing your holiday plant in the trash, compost it instead.
Day 9: Compost Pine Cones
As pine cones break down, they release nutrients that can be beneficial to your compost. They might take a while to break down, but you can chop them up to facilitate decomposition.
Day 10: Compost Your Christmas Tree
Keep your tree out of the landfill by composting it. Cut your tree into smaller pieces before adding it to your compost bin to help speed up decomposition.
Day 11: Compost Wood Ash
It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy the warmth of a wood-burning fireplace. Wood ash is a great addition to your compost pile. It’s alkaline, so applying it to compost heaps helps to balance the tendency of compost to be more acidic.
Day 12: Compost Natural Potpourri
Homemade natural potpourri is a wonderful way to make your home smell warm and inviting this holiday season. You can make it with things you may already have on hand, like citrus fruit, cinnamon sticks, cranberries, cloves, and rosemary. When you’re finished with the potpourri, you can compost the fruit and spices.
- 1 orange sliced or quartered
- 1 cup cranberries
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tsp. cloves
- 2-3 sprigs of rosemary
Add your ingredients to a saucepan with 4-6 cups of water. Bring to a simmer on low heat and enjoy!