Green Manolo » Dreaming of a Greener Christmas? Target Holiday Trash First

Dreaming of a Greener Christmas? Target Holiday Trash First

By Christa

Overflowing garbage cans are a common sight on post-Christmas trash days. Bags of boxes and plastic packaging sit beside bags of unloved leftovers and wreaths getting brown around the edges. Even recyclables like cardboard boxes and Christmas cards find their way into trash bins instead of that other bin that we at Green Manolo love so much. But Christmas doesn’t have to be wasteful – a little mindfulness goes a long way prior to and on December 25.

Cut or Fake?
Both real and artificial Christmas trees can end up in the trash. Honestly, neither is a truly green option, though real trees come out a wee bit ahead – particularly if you cut your own locally-grown tree from a nearby organic evergreen farm or buy a tree with a root ball and plant it after the holidays. If your city has a Christmas tree mulching program, take advantage of it. Artificial Christmas trees are frequently made of non-recyclable plastics and many are made in China where standards for paints and plastics may be low or non-existent. Eventually, they all end up in landfills. If you have to have a fake (because you won’t be home to water it, for example) then choose one that you’ll use for years and years to come to minimize the impact. Or better yet, go for something like this.

Ditch the Packaging
Who else can remember throwing out bags and bags of torn, wrinkled wrapping paper on Christmas? That’s a lot of waste! Nowadays I like using recycled wrapping paper that is also recyclable – which not all wrapping papers are. Wrapping papers that contain laminates and non-paper additives, and super thin wrapping paper may not be accepted for recycling in your area. I use plain brown kraft paper with embellishments of pine branches and cotton ribbon (very rustic) and reusable cloth wrapping bags. Even though people secretly diss on old aunts and grannies for smoothing out and reusing wrapping paper and ribbons, it’s totally the green thing to do.

Beware What You Buy
As difficult as it can be, buying stuff – food and gifts – that comes in less complicated, single-material packaging will mean a lot less waste. Look for products in packaging that can be recycled or things that don’t have any packaging at all. Sometimes spending more money means less waste – look for durable, long-lasting gifts that will be appreciated by the recipients, and think in terms of longevity when it comes to accessories. Will it need a constant stream of batteries? Can you get a reusable filter? If possible, buy recycled, fair-trade, sustainable gifts for the people you care about. And don’t forget when you’re shopping to BRING IN THOSE REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS!

Don’t Pig Out
Or at the very least, pig out thoughtfully – because, come on, pretty much everyone who celebrates Christmas is going to pig out a little. At those ubiquitous buffets, don’t take more than you’ll finish, since it’s not like you can put it back. And if you’re wearing the apron this year, try not to go crazy cooking way too much food since there’s no guarantee your guests will want to take a to-go bag home. All those tips for a greener Thanksgiving I shared last month still apply – go local, go organic, go vegetarian or vegan if you’re up for it.

Honestly, eating green is probably the easiest way to have a greener Christmas this year because decorations and wrapping paper are non-negotiable elements of most peoples’ holidays. Don’t think you have to adopt an all or nothing attitude about green holidays – even reducing your Christmastime waste a little bit is better than doing nothing at all.

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