The best ways to prevent waste during the holiday season
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With all the magical decorations, gift-giving, and family feasts during the holidays can come waste (and lots of it). 

Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, people in the United States toss about 1 million extra tons of garbage per week (yikes!).  

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Thankfully, you don’t have to be a Grinch and say goodbye to all things Christmassy to be more mindful of the Earth. 

Here are 12 easy, fun ways to prevent waste during the holiday season. 

Rethink Holiday Cards

While we love a handwritten note, let’s be real: holiday cards often pile up on our kitchen counters before getting tossed straight into the garbage. Digital cards, like Paperless Post, are typically cheaper, come in tons of cute designs, and show love without creating waste. 

If you’re totally not feeling digital, consider downsizing your list and personalizing the cards, so they’re less likely to just get thrown away. And look for eco-conscious companies like Paper Culture, which plant a tree with every order and source sustainable materials. 

Give thoughtfully

Wholesome Culture Bloom Where You Are Planted crew sweatshirt

Intangible presents — like gift cards to favorite restaurants, theaters, clothing stores, and coffee shops are amazingly thoughtful and use less wrapping paper. If you’re trying to shop for someone who seems to have everything, make a donation in their name to a special charity. 

Or spread the eco-friendly love and gift environmentally-conscious presents like our bamboo utensils, Stasher reusable ziplock bags, our reusable coffee mug, or our sweaters that advocate for animals and nature. 

Treating yourself!? Find the perfect holiday sweater for you and take our quiz

Tell people what you really want

If someone asks what you want — be honest! By telling people what you actually want, whether it’s a gift card or a specific pair of shoes, you’ll be much likelier to get something you’ll use and appreciate. 

You also won’t have to deal with the hassle of returning an unwanted gift or worse, end up throwing it away in a year. 

Actually eat leftovers

Turn a mishmash of side dishes into a creative yummy Buddha bowl. Put extra mashed potatoes to good use by making Vegan Potato Pancakes. And remember, freezing food will keep items edible for much longer than they would be in the fridge. 

And check out this post for more tips on how to waste less food

Be imaginative with gift wrap

Newspapers, reusable gift bags, and old paper bags can make for perfect gift wrap. If you’re in love with classic wrapping paper, check out Wrappily’s designs — they’re recyclable, super cute, and printed on local newspaper presses. (We love the Everyday Collection because you can use it for any occasion, which will come in handy if you have extra paper post-holidays.)

Get quirky with your Christmas tree

stack books for an eco-friendly Christmas tree

If you have a lot of books in your home, make a book tree. See shipping pallets in a neighbor’s yard? Ask to grab them and make a super sustainable (and adorable) pallet tree! 

You’ll save cash and relieve the landfills from the millions of trees that get discarded every year. 

Put lights on timers

LED Christmas lights are eco-friendly

Save energy! Put your lights on timers, so if you forget to turn them off — they won’t be on for no reason. And avoid incandescent bulbs by switching to LED whenever possible. They’re much more energy efficient and last longer (win-win). 

Remember reusables

reusable tote bag from Wholesome Culture

With all of the holiday shopping — for food, gifts, decor — make sure to remember your reusable bag. Keep them in your go-to spots like by the front door or in your backseat, so that you’re not that person in line at checkout (we’ve all been there!). 

In the market for a new bag? Check out our Small Acts Multiplied By Millions Can Transform This World tote. 

Make lists

Whether you need a gift for your brother or a specific ingredient for your Friendsgiving dish, make a list before you go and do your best to stick with it. The mall decorations, holiday tunes, and free samples can make it extra tempting to buy stuff you don’t need. 

When in doubt, refer to your list and remind yourself that you can always come back if you end up really needing something else. 

Skip the ribbon

Glittery bows and ribbons are often (like, almost always) not recyclable, plus they’re usually overpriced and unnecessary. 

Skip them altogether or spruce up a package by incorporating a few nature elements.

Assign potluck dishes 

vegan potluck dishes

If you’re attending or throwing a potluck feast — either tell people what to bring or ask the host what they actually need. That way, you’ll avoid having eight dessert pies and six sides of mashed potatoes, which will likely end up tossed! 

Start a new eco-conscious tradition

For the family who has a gag gift tradition (which can be fun in the moment but real wasteful), consider introducing a vegan cookie swap! Go plant a tree and make a yummy vegan hot chocolate on Christmas Eve! All of these green traditions are fun and extra gentle on the Earth. 

For more holiday inspiration, check out these posts!

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