This year’s holiday festivities might look a little different!

This year’s holiday festivities might look a little different for families all over the country. In a more typical year, this blog post would contain a myriad of ways to reduce your household’s waste this holiday season, but in 2020, all of us have a responsibility to be extra safe in addition to being environmentally-friendly. 

With these two goals in mind, what are some ways to cut back on waste and stay socially distant without compromising your family’s holiday traditions? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Gifting

We recommend not using gift wrap this year for two main reasons: It’s single-use, which creates unnecessary waste, and it’s a high-touch point of contact, meaning it may create risk of COVID-19 transmission. Depending on your priorities or existing safety precautions, you might choose some of these alternatives:

  • Some gifts don’t need wrapping at all! Things like donations in a recipient’s name, buying a subscription service for a loved one or even gifting experiences are all great ways to let someone know you care without giving them a physical object, removing the need for gift wrapping altogether.
  • There are also plenty of fun ways to give physical gifts without using wrapping paper! For instance, consider hiding a gift and giving your recipient clues to its location – they’ll have fun solving the puzzle, and you’ll be able to keep everyone involved safe and distant.
  • If you’re still going to exchange gifts more traditionally, consider reusable alternatives to wrapping paper. Newspaper and magazine pages can make great wrapping paper with a lot more character than typical gift wrap. For something you can reuse year after year, try wrapping gifts in cloth and nylon cords – reusing the cloth each year can become a fun tradition.

Eating 

Grand, seasonal spreads are a perennial centerpiece for the holidays, and this year should be no different. Here are some tips to make sure you’re staying sustainable and safe while breaking bread:

  • It can be tempting to use disposable silverware and dishes at some holiday gatherings to cut back on the amount of clean up afterward, but we recommend reusable dinnerware this year – you’ll be dramatically cutting back on plastic or styrofoam waste, and any dishwasher worth its salt can easily sanitize everything in time for the next meal. 
  • Just like with reusable dinnerware, we recommend investing in reusable cloth napkins as well – just like reusable dining implements, cloth napkins are easily washed and sanitized, and they can be used year-round to cut back on your home’s paper waste. 
  • We’ll leave you with one last tip that may be controversial: One of the best ways to cut back on waste during holiday meals is to simply buy and prepare less food. This year will likely call for smaller, safer gatherings, which means you might have fewer mouths to feed. Leftovers are a holiday staple, but extra food runs the risk of being thrown out days after a meal. This year, encourage any guests to bring their own reusable leftover containers to dinner and try to compost any food waste that you can’t finish. Here’s a reference list of compostable waste to get you started!

 

This year, like every year, a little extra care goes a long way. We hope you have a fantastic, safe, and sustainable holiday season – and a happy new year, too!