The holiday season is a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate. It’s a time to give and receive gifts, and to enjoy yourself at holiday parties and gatherings. But it’s also a great time to reflect – including spending some time thinking about how your habits may be impacting our beautiful planet.
Did you know that during the holidays, the amount of waste that Americans generate goes up enormously?
In fact, according to data from the EPA, American household waste increases by more than 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That amounts to about an additional 1 million tons per week going straight to landfills!
Now, this is only natural. After all, people are eating big meals, giving gifts, disposing of packaging and wrapping paper. It makes sense that we’d all produce a little more trash overall.
But there are still many small steps you and your family can take to dramatically reduce your footprint this winter, and make sure that your holidays are bright, festive – and a lot more green.
Here are five steps you can take this season to lessen your impact and get rid of holiday waste safely and responsibly:
1.) Think Sustainable From the Start
One thing you can do to cut down on waste? From the very beginning of the holiday season, think about what you can do to avoid creating trash or refuse in the first place.
For example, when you plan out your gift list, think about sustainability – maybe consider passing on a family heirloom, recycling products to craft something DIY, or give an amazing experiential present, instead of a physical thing. This can help you to avoid wasteful shopping, and avoid buying things that will just end up in the trash or in a yard sale in a week or two.
Another idea? When you’re wrapping your presents, consider purchasing sustainable, environmentally friendly products, such as recycled paper. For your big holiday parties, consider swapping out disposable napkins, plates, and plastic silverware for more durable, long-lasting products, which you can use again and again.
2.) Recycle What You Can
The holiday season is all about giving back – including giving back products that can be reused and recycled into something brand new! At the start of the season, be sure to look up what can and cannot be recycled. (For Chicagoans, we have a handy starter guide, available here.) An important thing to keep in mind is that some types of wrapping paper may not be recyclable, if they contain lots of plastic, glitter, or aluminum elements.
But, with that said, there are so many things that you can responsibly recycle around the holidays. This is a great time of year to find a location to “e-cycle” your old electronics and batteries, for example. Many stores and environmental agencies also collect used or broken Christmas lights. Finally, your Christmas tree, or any seasonal wreaths and garlands, can also usually be given to the city, or another organization, which will recycle these natural products into mulch or sod.
3.) Upcycle Where You Can
Can’t get rid of something responsibly? Think instead of how it could be put to good use. For example, old newspapers, comic books, or grocery bags can be put to work as wrapping paper, saving you from having to go out and buy more disposable paper.
This is just one example of upcycling – using an existing product to sustainably and ethically fulfill an entirely new need.
There are countless other ways to upcycle around the holiday season. For instance, you could save wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, or bows and ribbons to use again. Similarly, packing materials – such as foam peanuts, cardboard boxes, or bubble wrap – can be put to use again and again.
Or, think about how you could use old holiday cards, wrapping paper, or decorations for DIY craft projects. Have tons of leftover table scraps or greenery? You can consider composting these elements to use as fertilizer for your gardening. Really, the possibilities are endless. What could you find a new use for this holiday season?
4.) Donate to Those In Need
Are you feeling generous this season? The holidays are a great time to refocus on those in need, and find ways to give what you can to support those who could use a little boost.
So, for instance, if you’re replacing some household items with new presents, consider donating your existing products to local shelters or charity organizations. Ideas include clothing, toys, blankets, kitchen items, furniture, and so on. Similarly, if you get a present that you don’t really want or need, considering donating it to a charity, instead of just dumping it at the next opportunity.
And finally, remember that millions of Americans go to bed hungry, even around the holidays. If you have leftover food, you may be able to transport prepared meals to those in need via a local charity organization. Have leftover cans or boxes of food that you didn’t open? Your local food bank would be happy to collect these goods and pass them along to those in need.
5.) Clean With a Conscience
Remember that living green and reducing waste is not all about what you throw away – it’s also about taking steps to clean and organize in an environmentally friendly way.
During the holidays, and all year round, think about making the switch to more sustainable, green cleaning products. So, for instance, you may want to swap out heavily watered down “dollar store” products for more concentrated cleaning solutions, which allow you to get a deeper clean with less waste. Similarly, you could swap out disposable products for longer-lasting reusable products – switching out paper towels for bamboo towels is a great place to get started.
And finally, remember that one of the most sustainable choices you can make is to bring in a professional cleaning service for your home or office. Professional cleaners can come equipped with their own supplies and products, plus environmentally friendly cleaning techniques – saving you from wasting time and energy stocking up your own cleaning closet.
Let Sweeping Dimensions Make Your Holidays Brighter
The holidays are a time for togetherness. Why spend these important months worrying about keeping your home clean and free of waste, when you could turn the “dirty work” over to the pros?
That’s where Sweeping Dimensions would love to step in and help. Here at Sweeping Dimensions, we believe in giving busy Chicago residents time back for the most important things in life – family, friends, and fun. All of these things are even more important during the holidays.
If you or someone you love could benefit from a professional cleaning service’s help, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. Our professionally trained and uniformed staff can bring all of the cleaning products necessary to get the job done. We offer extremely flexible time windows, and can assist you with all of your residential cleaning needs – whether that means a deep cleaning, routine housekeeping, or one-time service for a special event.
Ready to get started helping your home shine for the holidays – no stress, worry, or extra effort required? Get in touch today for your FREE service estimate.