It can be overwhelming to see the detrimental effects of climate change and pollution on the news, from animals dying and forest fires spreading, but there are smaller changes that we can all make to reduce our carbon footprint, and it begins with our gifting season.
On average, Americans throw 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Years, which translates to 25 million tons of garbage. That's 1 million extra tons per week.
To materialize our impact, Stanford gathered some statistics: If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we'd save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
So how can you make this an eco-friendly holiday season while still impressing your giftees?
Here are some ideas.
Thrift shopping can be the most interesting way to find anything from quirky home decor to high-quality clothing! Many people forget that thrifting is not just limited to clothing, but also jewelry, scarves, photo albums, souvenirs, and even more. (Plus you'll definitely save money).
Heads up: if you go to Rutgers, there will be a pop-up thrift store at the Livingston Student Center from 12 – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 28th. All proceeds got to Reach A Hand Uganda, a nonprofit organization committed to growing the youth in Uganda, and the extra clothes are donated to Planet Aid. Both great causes, and awesome clothes. For more info, check out this event.
2. Using a reusable tote when you shop
You can probably picture what the trunk of your car would look like after doing some intense gift shopping. Probably something like this.
Instead, with your reusable bags, there's no waste produced. And if you shop like my mom, this is our cart after one trip to Target, Marshall's, etc. Throwing a large tote (or two) into the car will make all the difference (and while you're developing that habit, maybe even take them grocery shopping).
3. Using magazine pages as wrapping paper
Many of us have old magazines lying around, fully read and not of much use anymore. However, we can use their bright colors and prints as a stylish and trendy wrapping paper! Add a bow or ribbon and you easily have an eco-friendly and sleek gift.
4. Buying non-material, handmade, or eco-friendly gifts
Some handmade soaps and candles never hurt.
A lot of us don't need more "stuff" per se, so when thinking of ways not to clutter your giftee's house (and the environment), here are some examples of gifts that someone will love.
Tickets: movies, amusement parks, museums, sports, hikes
Gift certificates: spa, restaurant, bookstore, clothing stores
Handmade gifts: photo albums, basket of baked goods, soaps/perfumes, candles (here's a local seller to get started)
Sustainable gifts: reusable water bottles (like Swell), tote bags, metal straws, bamboo utensils, clothes made from recycled materials (it's pretty cool, turning water bottles into cotton-like t-shirts)
Share this with people who are looking to go green this gifting season, because our actions have an impact, and to show others that being eco-friendly isn't as hard as it seems.