Reducing single-use plastic
The holiday season typically means there will be more group events with friends, family, and other loved ones. While this means there is more holiday spirit in the air, it also means there is more single use trash ending up in our landfills:
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, about 1 million extra tons per week of trash is thrown away in America*. This trash is largely associated with single use holiday crockery as well as with materials from wrapping presents and present packaging.
A great way to reduce single use plastics at holiday events is to reevaluate the flatware and dinnerware used. The most sustainable option is to use what you already have- whether that means the extra pack of themed paper plates you bought too many of last year or the dinnerware you already use daily.
There are also rental companies which rent out such items if you are hosting for more people than you can currently accommodate. If items must be bought, consider buying second hand crockery that can be reused in future years or items made of paper or recycled materials.
Wrapping paper can also be a large source of single use plastic that is thrown away during the holidays. Many of the fancier styles with glosses and glitters as well as tapes and glue are actually made with plastics, and these are typically unable to be recycled. Ribbons can also cause problems by getting twisted in machinery **.
Gifts can still be presented beautifully with recyclable wrapping paper or recycled material (such as Kraft paper). Single use material can be avoided altogether by gifting in reusable items such as decorative tea towels, reused gift bags, baskets, or jars. Additionally, many gifts don’t even need packaging! Experience gifts such as outings, subscriptions, or gift certificates can make excellent gifts that will show a loved one how much you care.
The holiday season is a great time to show care and appreciation; taking the extra step to think about the impacts of our events and gift giving is the easiest “hostess” gift we could be giving to the place we call home, Planet Earth.