The holidays always feel so hectic and chaotic. Unfortunately, being mindful of your environmental footprint can easily be forgotten. The buying, giving, and receiving of stuff surrounding the holidays can leave long-lasting negative impacts on our Earth. This year, we wanted to take some time to be mindful of our gifting practices to minimize waste. Here are some easy sustainable tips to adopt during this holiday season while still maintaining the holiday spirit!
From grocery bags to old newspapers, there are plenty of options of cute gift wrapping items lying around your house! Not only can you save on buying wrapping paper (typically $4-8 per roll), you’ll be helping the environment too. A neutral wrapping paper with a festive ribbon is all you need to create a cute gift wrap. Hate the craft paper look? There are also 100% recycled wrapping paper options available at Wrappily and Etsy.
If you’re not into the look of using recycled wrapping paper, try Furoshiki. Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese method of wrapping gifts with fabric, scarves, or bandanas. It’s super easy and always looks good, plus no wrapping paper means no paper cuts! If wrapping presents isn’t your thing, fabric gift bags are also an option. Put the gift inside the bag and pull the drawstrings closed, and you're done. Simplicity during the holidays? Yes, please.
A unique way to reuse and recycle is shopping at thrift stores. We know, sounds like a hassle and maybe even a bit sketchy, but turns out thrift items can be cool! It might take a little digging at your local thrift store, but there are hidden gems and unique items that you’d never find at a generic department store. And aren't we all a little Amazon-ed out? If you love the idea, but hate the hassle of searching, there’s even new online thrift shops available like GoodFair and ThredUp. From vintage tee’s to housewares, you can find it all, gently used, and looking for a new home.
When you’re deciding what to give this year, think about the long-term use of items you’re giving. Will the recipient use it once and then throw it away? Or is it something they can reuse over and over again, and love for years to come? We encourage you to search for reusable or long-use items this year. Not only will they help our planet, but the recipient will get so much mileage out of the gift. Take our Renzoe Box for example. Users can order refills for years to come, meaning they'll use it all year long, and you've got options for next year's gift item too! If you’re buying for a non-makeup user in your life, a solar-powered iPhone charger is perfect for anybody looking to cut down on their energy usage. We also just discovered the Kiyo UVC Bottle and yes it’s even better than your typical hydro flask. It purifies water in just 60 seconds, and eliminates the need for 100 plastic water bottles on average each year.
It seems like every year at least one string of lights decides to give up, or we’ve got an old set that's never going to get untangled. Instead of tossing your lights in the trash, you can recycle them. Yep, we were surprised to learn this too. Christmas Light Source is a Dallas, TX based company that accepts your old lights. Not only will your lights be recycled, but you'll get a 10% off coupon for new lights, and any proceeds from your recycled lights will go to Toys For Tots! Don't feel like mailing them? Some stores like Home Depot and Ace Hardware even offer in-store credit incentives! Doesn't hurt to ask before you take them to the trash.
Many municipalities offer free curbside pick up tree recycling programs for Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes. For example, our very own city of Austin, TX, takes trees and turns them into mulch. That mulch is then offered back to the community for free! Although trees and bushes are both natural and will eventually decompose, it is important for them to be properly recycled so they are not taking up room in landfills. Want to make the most of your tree before recycling it? Use the green needles as air fresheners for your home and cut the trunk into one-inch pieces for a beautiful coaster.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all gotten gifts we don’t like. Traditionally we smile, we accept, and maybe a week later we return it and get what we really want. But here’s an idea: rather than all that back & forth shipping or driving to stores, which has a huge environmental impact, why not upcycle? Donate the gift to a local non-profit, or re-gift it to a friend or family member that you know will really love and appreciate it. It's true, the gift-giver might get their feelings hurt, so this is definitely a case-by-case scenario, but overall wouldn’t they want someone to really love the gifted item? We leave it for you to decide, but we encourage you to think twice before returning unwanted items and pushing them back into the supply chain.
Cheers everyone, and have a happy holiday!
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