Decreasing consumption during holiday season

Connor Guy

Between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, Americans produce 25% more waste than they do normally. This amounts to 25 million pounds of waste total during the holiday season.

Since we like to think of ourselves as environmentally conscientious here at Whitman, here are a few ways you might keep yourself from contributing to these numbers this year:

  • Recycle wrapping paper: Many people assume that gift wrap paper isn’t recyclable because it often has a glossy finish, but with the exception of some foil and wax-coated papers, most gift wrap is recyclable.
  • Find ways to creatively not use it: Consider simply using a bow to present your gift. Or make the wrapping part of the gift; for example, you might wrap a kitchen utensil in a new kitchen towel.
  • Wrap in reused materials: Instead of buying a roll of gift paper, simply wrap your gifts in old paper shopping bags: go for that “brown paper packages tied up with string” look.
  • Dispose of your Christmas tree properly: If you choose to keep a Christmas tree, there are a number of options you can consider when it’s time to get rid of it. Take it a local garden center to have it turned into chips or mulch. Or, better yet, get one with the roots bundled up, which can be planted when you’re done with it.
  • Bring your own bags: When doing your holiday shopping, consider either bringing your own bag or reusing one. Instead of picking up a new bag at each store, consolidate all your items into one.
  • Recycle your lights: Instead of throwing them away, you can recycle your old incandescent holiday lights for free at
  • Don’t use packing peanuts: Instead, use real popcorn. As long as you pop it without butter, it makes a perfectly suitable packing material, and once it’s served its purpose, you can have your recipient feed it to the birds.
  • If you end up with them, recycle them: If you receive a parcel packed in Styrofoam peanuts, call up the Plastic Loosefill’s peanut hotline (1-800-828-2214): they can give you the names of local businesses that reuse them.
  • Give non-material gifts: Instead of giving your friends and family stuff, give them experiences. Cook them dinner, for example, or give them tickets to a play or a concert.
  • Send your Christmas cards online: and many similar Web sites offer free online holiday cards.