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How to Keep Your Holidays as Least Wasteful as Possible

‘Tis the season to deck the halls, reflect on the past year, and spend time connecting with friends and family. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. What’s not quite as festive? The excess waste and carbon emissions that come along with it.

We throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year than any other time of year. That extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage. Not to mention all the greenhouse gases we emit during the holidays—specifically, 1,400 pounds of CO2, equal three weeks of driving.

We can all do our part to lighten our carbon footprint while still enjoying the festivities. Here are a few ways to keep your holidays as sustainable as possible. 
How to Have a Sustainable Holiday

BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT LEFTOVERS

Guess what: Food waste actually emits more carbon than the airline industry. Globally, wasted food accounts for about 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to limit the amount of food you toss during the holidays. First off, get a headcount on how many people you’ll be serving and meal plan accordingly. Staying organized and true to your plan will prevent you from overpreparing and overspending. If you still have more dishes than you can chew, save, freeze, and share the leftovers with guests. Donate any unopened items or nonperishable items to local food pantries and shelters. 

BOOK NON-STOP FLIGHTS

It’s no secret that flying emits a ton of GHGs, but did you know 25% of those carbon emissions happen during takeoff and landing? The fewer stops you make on your journey to loved ones, the better. Take it one step further and offset the carbon emissions from your flight. MyClimate is a great resource; simply input your flight details and it’ll calculate the emissions. You can then offset them by contributing to sustainable projects (like reforestation) in developing countries.

 

LIGHT SOY OR VEGETABLE WAX HOLIDAY CANDLES

Nothing screams holiday more than cozying up on the couch with hot cocoa, a feel-good movie, and your favorite scent. Unfortunately, candles can often do more harm than good. Some contain paraffin, which releases about 10g of CO2 per hour. It also can release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air including acetone, benzene, and toluene (a.k.a. carcinogens). Look for candles made with soy or vegetable wax instead for a cleaner, safer, low-carbon burn.

DO A GIFT SWAP 

Who else has a list of 10+ people to buy for? The bottom line is that buying gifts for a large group is a lot of consumption—not to mention expensive. If your group is open to it, suggest a gift swap instead. By purchasing a gift for one person (or a few people),  you can be more intentional with your gift-giving and cut back on items that might end up in a landfill someday.

When it comes to actual gift ideas, try giving experiences such as a special dinner or spa treatment.

If you’re gifting Versed, be sure to let the receiver know (perhaps through a gift tag or card) that they can recycle their empties once they’re finished through our Recycle Responsibly program.

COMPOST YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE

For many, getting a Christmas tree is one of the highlights of the season. If you have a tree, don’t just toss it out with the trash once January rolls around. Most cities have curbside programs that will pick them up to be composted. If you prefer to DIY, add it to an existing compost pile in your backyard. Depending on the type of tree you buy, you can also repurpose the trunk for firewood.

GET CREATIVE WITH WRAPPING PAPER

We use over 8,000 tons of wrapping paper during the holiday season, wasting 50,000 or more trees. While recycling may seem like the answer, most rolls you see in stores (think metallic, glitter-coated paper) can’t be tossed in the blue bin. Opt for tissue paper or plain paper bags and boxes, which can all be composted. (Also, regifting wrapping paper is not a faux pas). Or, toss everything in a reusable bag the receiver can keep. 

If you want to add a special touch to your gift, skip the bow and add natural elements like small pine branches or dried oranges instead. It makes for a much more unique present anyways. 

Sources:
1. Stamford
2. TeleSUR
3. Clean Air Partnership
4. Washington Post
5. The Guardian
6. Extra.ie, iq air

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