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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Treat the environment this holiday season

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Olivia Reid
People shop at their local Target. Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

Every holiday season is known as a time for indulgence and overconsumption. There’s tons of food to eat. People are exchanging gifts. Everyone is familiar with the concept. But did you know how much waste is generated during this period?

Brightly estimates that Americans produce “2,887,500,000 more pounds of garbage” during the holiday season compared to the rest of the year. This garbage is composed of wrapping paper, returns, food waste, ribbon, greeting cards, Christmas trees, holiday lights and more. How can everyday people cut down on this overuse?

First, tackle the wrapping paper. Try wrapping gifts in old maps or newspapers. Someone could wrap a gift in the inside of a brown paper bag, then decorate the outside with a white pen or a black marker. The gift can still look as cute as it would have with wasteful wrapping paper. Furthermore, try giving gifts that don’t need wrapping paper, like a trip or another type of experience. Gifts can also be given in a reusable tote bag or cloth. 

Next—returns. Avoid returning items, as most are sent directly to landfills. Try regifting the item to someone who would really enjoy it, or someone who would get some use out of it. If the gift is part of some kind of swap party, maybe try swapping gifts with someone after the event. 

To avoid giving gifts that end up as exchanges, be thoughtful about your gift-giving. Give someone a gift they will definitely use, or give a handmade gift. If you’re in need of inspiration, The Mass Media published an article last week about different handmade gifts. Additionally, try giving gifts with a long life-span, like a stainless steel razor, nice glassware or a reusable water bottle. 

Also, shop small when buying gifts. Buying from major corporations can mean the package is shipped across long distances. Boston has a couple different Christmas markets that have many vendors, all of which are small, local businesses. Snowport in Seaport and the Christmas SoWa market are just a few examples of these.

Then, think about the food waste. For those hosting a holiday party, get a headcount so as not to over-buy food. Encourage your guests to just take what they can eat. Give everyone leftovers of a dish they enjoyed to take home. Compost any food scraps and don’t just put them in the trash. Getting creative about food waste is also a good option. 

For leftover animal carcass parts, use them in a stock. A stock is a great way to reuse these parts for something that can be eaten. Maybe try making phở or another soup out of the stock. For any leftover or stale bread, make it into croutons. Use fruit scraps to make jams or put them in a simmer pot to make your home smell nice. Use veggie scraps to make vegetable stock and old wine for cooking. There are so many ideas for what to do with leftover food.

If you have a real tree, make sure to recycle it—the City of Boston picks up Christmas trees to compost in the month of January. Try reusing any ribbons or decorations to reduce waste, and avoid buying trendy holiday decor if you won’t use it for years to come.

Additionally, try hand-making decor, whether that be finding cute ornaments to make online, or making a popcorn and dried citrus garland for the tree. Find recyclable greeting cards or send an e-card. Holiday lights waste a lot of electricity, so try switching to LED lights to cut down on electricity and only turn them on when they’re needed. 

The holidays are meant to be fun and enjoyable, but make sure not to harm the environment as well. 

About the Contributors
Rena Weafer, Arts Editor
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor