The holidays can be a great time to relax, spend time with friends and family, exchange gifts, and share delicious food. However, the days leading up to the holidays can be hectic and stressful. Making sustainable choices during the holiday season can be especially hard between the pressure of numerous holiday sales and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
Not surprisingly, this is the most wasteful time of year in America. Household waste increases by 25% from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. Four million tons of trash is produced from wrapping paper alone. Each year, 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold, enough to fill a football field 10 stories high.
According to a national survey, 70% of Americans would welcome less emphasis on gift giving and spending. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to reduce the amount of waste produced, reduce materialism, and thus have a “greener” holiday.
Here a few ideas to consider in your gift-giving ventures:
- Know someone who already has everything? Instead of giving more “things” give a non-material or consumable gift. Some example are cooking a favorite meal (or giving the ingredients for a meal or tasty treat in a gift basket), offering to babysit for a night out, giving tickets to an event or concert, or giving a plant that will continue to give flowers, fruits or vegetables. Not only do these gifts generate less landfill waste, but they require little or no packaging in giving as well! Find more similar ideas here.
- Make your own eco-friendly gifts. Snow globes and ornaments are fun and can be reused each year during the holiday season. More eco-friendly homemade gift ideas can be found here.
- Purchase local gifts from small companies or markets to help stimulate your local economy.
- Reuse gift wrap or don’t use it at all. Newspapers and old maps make for fun and interesting wrapping paper.
- Send an e-card in the place of a traditional card. You can also make your own cards or purchase cards made from recycled material.
Will you be hosting this year? Here are some tips to make your holiday feast more eco-friendly:
- Remember your reusable shopping bags when purchasing your groceries!
- Choose local, organic, antibiotic-free, or free-range foods as you are planning your meal.
- Use reusable dishware and napkins on your holiday table.
- Send leftovers home with guests and compost any scraps, like melon rinds, that cannot be consumed.
Will you be taking time away from the University for the holidays? Whether you are leaving home to take a holiday trip or taking some time away from the University to be at home with family, please remember to take these simple energy conservation measures before you leave:
- Unplug all appliances, such as microwaves, coffee makers, lamps, televisions, computers, printers, chargers, etc. Even when electronic devices are not being used, they still consume energy when plugged in, a concept called the “phantom load”. If all of the devices are plugged into a single power strip, simply flip the switch to off.
- Lower your thermostat to 60 degrees. This will prevent unnecessary heating while you are away. If you need assistance or have questions, call the Facilities Customer Service Center at 585-273-4567.
- Close your windows and blinds to keep heat from escaping your room and building.
- Last but not least, turn off all your lights.
If we all take these simple steps, we can help reduce our waste and energy consumption during the holiday season. Thank you for making the effort to keep the University and our planet more sustainable. Happy Holidays!
Written by Alyssa Lemire, Class of 2017
Photo source www.torange.us