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Waste Reduction


To me, Christmas feels like a month-long sugar rush. There’s a constant buzz in the air from Black Friday to Christmas. There are constant advertisements promoting crazy-good deals on the perfect gift for [insert loved one] and a steady stream of shiny boxes under the tree that each have a shiny bow.

Every sugar rush has a down side. It happens on Christmas morning. After all, the shiny boxes have been opened, and everything is in place, I find myself surrounded by new items next to a large pile of crumpled wrapping paper. While I am thankful for all the new gifts, many of them don’t bring me joy. I feel guilty about excessive gift-giving because I now realize the environmental damage and wastefulness that hyperconsumerism can cause. Take this for example: Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans create 25% more waste than the rest of the year.

But I am not heartless. I understand that the act of giving and receiving gifts can be very exciting. However, I need to be able to participate in this tradition without getting all grinchy or feeling guilty.

This is why I created this guide with the help of my friends and the internet. These eight tips can be used to reduce waste whether you’re celebrating Christmas, birthdays, or other gift-giving holidays.

1. Remind yourself of the essence of holidays.

Answer: Family, friends, and quality time. Gift-giving is one way to show your love.

2. Give experiences and services as gifts or support causes

Experiences – Concerts, museum tickets, cooking classes, art lessons, exercise classes… the list goes on! You can even buy two tickets so that you can all go together.

Services – As an infant, I used coupons to buy Christmas presents for my parents. They could cash them in to get a free massage, walk my dog, or clean my bedroom. These are all things that I should have done anyway, but I knew it was not worth spending my $20 allowance on something they could purchase.

Don’t let this type of giving stop at adolescence. Consider what you could offer. Perhaps a delicious hand-cooked meal? Perhaps you can help with a major home improvement project. Another option is tutoring in a skill that you are proficient in. These options will not only show your love but will also allow you to spend quality time with your loved one.

Causes- Many people want to give more to charitable causes that they believe in but don’t have the funds. You can make a difference by donating in someone’s honor!

3. Secondhand Items

You can save clothes, toys, and furniture from going to the dump by saving them. You’ll save money by giving them a second chance!

4. Be creative

Making handmade gifts is fun and adds a personal touch. I’m getting together with some friends to make homemade candles this year. The jars I used to store the candles are also secondhand.

Another option is to make a knitting project, a photo collage, or a recipe booklet.

5. Create reusable gift wrap.

Although shiny gift wrap looks great under the tree, it can be ripped to shreds within 60 seconds. Worse, much of it is made with plastic and cannot be recycled at many facilities.

This tutorial will show you how to transform an old t-shirt into beautiful, festive gift wrapping. It can be reused over and over.

6. Gift sustainably

When choosing gifts, think plastic-free and long-lasting. Ask yourself: “Would my gift allow the recipient to reduce their environmental impact in their daily lives?” This is a great question to ask, as it will help the planet and your health. Size doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how small or large you give it. Make sure it isn’t quickly lost.

7. Think local

It is a huge carbon footprint to ship gifts across the globe. It’s simple to make convenience your advantage with two-day shipping. Don’t give in to the temptation. Instead, make a day out of it and go into your local community to support local businesses.

8. Questions to ask

All of us have boxes of presents in our closets. These gifts were not opened until the first time they were opened. These presents were lovely gestures, but they had no practical purpose. Asking others what they would like to receive is the best way to avoid this. Although surprises are great, receiving something that you’ll actually use is even better. A white elephant gift swap is a great way to get a gift for friends and family.

These practices have helped me to re-orient my holiday mindset as Christmas is fast approaching. I’m excited to give gifts to my family and friends that make everyone feel lighter, with less stuff to stash in their closets. There will be no sugar crash unless you eat too many Christmas cookies. This is not a complete list. Please leave comments below if you have any additional ideas.

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Jane S. King

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