It’s easy to think about the ways we create extra waste over the holidays. Just walk out to your sidewalk on trash day right after Christmas. Everyone’s bins are exploding with waste.

Statistically, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s our waste increases 25%! This includes everything from wasted food to wrapping paper and ribbons to shipping boxes and packing peanuts. Not only is the production of this stuff not usually friendly for our planet, but the massive amount of it that gets dumped in landfills is overwhelming.

Here are a few very simple ways I have found to reduce our waste around the holidays. Each year I try to do a bit more to not create any trash. My dream is that our home becomes a zero-waste home… meaning we create no trash! Part of that means re-thinking how we do the holidays…

1. Give experiences not tangible gifts

This is my favorite idea that we’ve really implemented as a family. It’s so easy to come up with gift options other than a tangible gift. Give an experience. Maybe it’s a family pass to a local attraction or lessons in a hobby that a family member has been interested in. Get creative!

2. Use recycled gift wrapping

My favorite go-to wrapping is 100% recycled kraft paper that can be found at most office supply stores. My kids then use potato stamps or paintbrushes to decorate the packages using old-fashioned milk paint.  You can also use such things as cotton bags that can be re-used for other purposes, like these.

3. Skip the ribbon and bows

Use twine or even yarn. Think of what can decompose or be composted and use that. My favorite thing to use is twine and then tuck in a twig of holly or pine.

4. Take re-usable bags when you shop

Easy yet so hard to remember. Here’s my tip to remember to bring your re-usable shopping bags along with you. If you forget them, make yourself carry everything out without a bag. This is especially entertaining at the grocery store. But trust me, you do this to yourself 2-3 times and you will be much more likely to remember your bags next time! I got mine from Lands End. They are a little pricier, but they are so heavy duty. A more budget-friendly option is something like this.

5. Decorate with nature

I do this on a regular basis, and it’s not hard to do for the holidays as well. Instead of buying Christmas decorations that are most likely painted with toxic paints and made with materials that weren’t sustainably harvested from the earth… go outside and find your own! Pinecones, acorns, pine tree branches, citrus peels, and pieces of wood can all be creatively used to decorate. Search “nature Christmas decorations” on Pinterest for some good ideas!

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