The EPA has calculated that the volume of household waste in the United States increases about 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – that’s 1 million EXTRA tons of garbage in a very short span of time. But by abiding by the three “R’s” of reducing, recycling, and reusing, we can all practice a more sustainable holidays and green the season:

Creative Commons Photo: LloydTheVoid

Creative Commons Photo: LloydTheVoid


1.) Know your where your tree came from and where it’s going to go after the holidays.
A 2010 study commissioned by the American Christmas Tree Association looked at the most common artificial tree in comparison to the most common natural tree in regards to environmental impact, and it reached this surprising conclusion: One fake tree has the same carbon footprint as five real trees of similar size. So next holiday season consider these options:

● Buy a tree that can be replanted later.
● Look for trees grown under the guidelines of the  Socially and Environmentally Responsible Farms program, which works with farms that protect wildlife and waterways, conserve soil and water resources, conduct health and safety training for workers and promote responsible farming practices.
Adopt a christmas tree. Trees can be rented for the holidays with scheduled pickups afterward.
● Look for ways to compost your tree instead of sending it to a landfill.

Photo: Victoria Hoey

Photo: Victoria Hoey

2.) Avoid buying wrapping paper and NEVER use stick­-on bows

Metallic and plastic ribbon is cheap to make and buy, but they are NOT recyclable. 38,000 miles of ribbon alone are thrown out each year, enough to tie a bow around the entire world! Instead try one of these gift wrapping alternatives:

● Try newspaper, old maps or posters, coloring book pages, or fabric, to wrap boxes.
● Spend an afternoon making fun and personalized wrapping paper with your kids by decorating brown paper bags with drawings and stamps.
● Reuse last year’s holiday gift wrap. This season carefully unwrap gifts sent to you, then fold or roll it to store until the 2016 holidays to see another year of gift giving!

The Japanese technique of Furoshiki, gift wrapping using fabric instead of paper, is not only a more sustainable gift wrapping alternative, but also a beautiful way to offer a gift any time of the year.

It is time to start NEW traditions. This year give the gift of A Healthy Beautiful Environment. From all of us at AHBE Lab, we wish you a happy holidays!

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