When it comes celebrating the holidays sustainably this season, the old adage "waste not, want not" offers great guidance.
"There are lots of great ways to go green for the holidays," says ECOlunchbox Founder Sandra Ann Harris, whose company specializes in no-waste lunchware. "With some eco-friendly thinking, it's easy to come up with ways to avoid wasting money and resources around the holidays."
A few sobering statistics about holiday waste are helpful when it comes to getting motivated to go green for the holidays.
More than 30 million living Fir trees are cut in U.S. for Christmas each year. There's no eco relief, however, in choosing a fake trees instead, because these plastic trees often contain non-biodegradable PVC and possible metal toxins, such as lead.
When it comes to paper waste over the holidays, keep in mind that a whopping half of the paper consumed in the U.S. annually is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. Adding to the paper waste, enough Christmas cards are sold each year (about 2.65 billion) in the United States to fill a football field 10 stories high.
"We can try to hang on to the status quo—living a Wal-Mart life so we can buy cheaply enough to keep the stream of stuff coming. Or we can say uncle," says author Bill McKibben, a contributing writer to Mother Jones and co-founder of 350.org.
To help families hone their eco-friendly thinking around the holidays, ECOlunchbox is offering green holiday tips on Facebook and Pinterest all month.
"Let's say goodbye to wasteful holiday celebrations," says Harris. "When it comes to green gifts, there's nothing better than making choices that result in less trash, less toxins, less carbon footprint, less expense and less impact on Mother Earth. Less is definitely more when it comes to giving green."
To get started, here are a few green gift and holiday ideas:
Agree with family and friends to skip gifts – and spend time together doing something you both enjoy! A walk? A cup of tea?
- Come up with a list of your personal favorites when it comes to tools for eco-friendly living. Inspire your friends to go green with you all year long by giving them practical reusable items, like a stainless steel bento ECOlunchbox, machine washable artisan napkins or a plastic-free stainless steel water bottle.
- Go to you local Christmas tree lot. Don't buy a tree- instead buy inexpensively or possibly pick up for free extra branch trimmings. Use indoors for decorations or in vase.
- Dust off a present you received but didn't need or want – and re-gift it!
- Buy a potted Christmas tree – and either plant it in your own yard after the holidays or find a home for it at a friend's house or local park.
- Bake double your favorite holiday desserts – and give the extra dessert away!
"Selecting green gifts is a gentle way to encourage friends and family to consider adopting new sustainable living habits," Harris explains. "Did you know a typical family throw away 4,320 pieces of trash during lunchtime and spends more than $400 on plastic baggies and other packaging waste? Our stainless bentos and artisan lunchbags make awesome green gifts!"
ECOlunchboxes specializes in waste-free, plastic-free, lead-free, BPA-free, PVC-free and vinyl-free lunchware that's healthy for people and the planet.
ECOlunchbox is sold through The Container Store, select Whole Foods, independent natural groceries, children's boutiques and at www.ecolunchboxes.com
Sandra Ann Harris lives in Lafayette, Calif. with her husband, two school-age children, three chickens and terrier Hobow. She is the founder of ECOlunchbox, which specializes in eco-friendly, no-plastic lunchware.