As the holidays approach, so does the endless amount of plastic waste that they bring. The term “sustainable” is something that is constantly talked about in the media, but that doesn’t mean that there’s a clear way to be consistently sustainable. Trying to understand sustainability has been something I’ve really been working on this year. Sustainability can seem daunting, but there are steps everyone can take to achieve it. Here are some tips that you can use during this holiday season.
The key idea to sustainability is “if you have it, use it.” Just because a product might not be considered sustainable, that doesn’t mean you should throw it out immediately. Using things such as wrapping paper or fake plastic trees to their full potential is more sustainable than just throwing them away. The way that I determine if a product is sustainable or not is asking myself, “if I throw it out today, will it be around in 10 years?” If the answer is yes, it probably isn’t sustainable; this includes things that you might not see, such as microplastics: small pieces of plastic that can be harmful to humans, our oceans and our wildlife. When you’re done with a product, try giving it a new life; there are countless crafts about reusing wrapping paper on Pinterest. Or if you can’t find another use for something yourself, donate it instead of throwing it away so it doesn’t end up in a landfill.
When you are ready to buy new items, think of repurposing materials that you already have. Using your own resources when you can is not only sustainable, but can also save money. If you are out of wrapping paper, use a newspaper, a saved gift bag or a basket. Want more ornaments or house decorations? Make them yourself! Yet again, Pinterest is your best friend. For example, the article image is a decoration that my little cousin made with some paint and newspaper. Thrifting is also a great way to give old items a new life and save some money in the process.
With the world still on pause, Amazon may be your one-stop shop for gifts this holiday season and endless boxes filled with packing materials may be at your doorstep. However, many people do not know about the sustainable measure you can take when ordering from Amazon. Amazon has a list of frustration-free packaging items. This means your package will arrive in a smaller box, with recyclable packaging and less unnecessary wrapping on your items. If you don’t see anything you want on that list, consider giving your packaging a second chance.
Additionally, try buying local when you can. That might be more difficult for some individuals due to the pandemic, but even without that, everyone can make a conscious effort to reduce waste and think of better ways to be sustainable. Sustainability is something that must be practiced in order for it to become a normal part of our lifestyle. We might not get it right all of the time, but the conscious thought of sustainability is a start.
By Jeanine Carryl, Staff Writer