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Take Action: Sustainable Gift-Giving
Center for Sustainability
According to the EPA, the average waste produced by U.S. households increases 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day - resulting in an extra 1 million tons of waste in our landfills. During the holidays this year, consider these simple and easy ways to cut down on waste and give sustainable gifts without breaking the bank.
Reduce carbon emissions during the holidays by consolidating shopping trips and carpooling with friends. Bring reusable bags and contribute to reducing the 4 million tons of trash generated annually by the United States from gift wrap and shopping bags alone. Invest in reusable dishes and utensils for holiday parties and save money in the long run by not having to buy paper goods. Save leftover food for lunches or send it home with guests to minimize the more than 28 billion pounds of edible food wasted in the US each year - that’s nearly 100 pounds per person!
Reuse old posters, newspapers, and magazines to create one-of-a-kind wrapping paper or get creative and reuse the wrapping paper and gift bags that you’ve collected over the years to make new gifts for family and friends. Make a bow from old gift wrap and use it to adorn this year’s presents, or if you’re feeling adventurous, attempt this paper cone Christmas tree that you can save and use for many years to come. Think your wrapping paper is too wrinkled to reuse? Try ironing on the lowest setting over the blank side of the paper - just be careful not to iron over tape or glitter/plastic embellishments. Still can’t get the wrinkles out? No problem. Use already crumpled gift wrap to pack fragile gifts or make paper confetti that you can use on New Year’s Eve!
Recycle household items to create unique and thoughtful gifts that friends and family will love. Clean out an old mason jar and place in it all the ingredients necessary to make a delicious baked treat - don’t forget to include the recipe! This eliminates the packaging waste and cost of store bought goods and is customizable for any one on your gift list. Clean out your closet and use old sweaters or t-shirts to make personalized pillows or tote bags and donate any other old clothing to charity. For even more ideas, make sure to RSVP for the Forge’s Garden Gifts for the Holidays workshop on December 4th during which sustainable gifts will be made using materials found in the garden!
Respect the scarcity of the earth’s resources by purchasing or renting a living Christmas tree this year. After the festivities, these trees can be replanted and allowing them to contribute much needed oxygen to the atmosphere. Use energy-efficient LED lights to decorate your tree, and remember to unplug them or set a timer when not in use. Artificial trees, if used for many years, are also a sustainable and cost-effective holiday alternative as they appear incredibly realistic.
This holiday season, challenge yourself to make small, conscious changes to promote sustainable living. From giving homemade gifts to making reusable decorations with family and friends, the planet and your wallet will surely thank you!
Contributed by Andie Filler ‘18, Sustainability Intern for Curriculum Development