By Anna Cox (’22)
The holidays are a time to gather with friends and family, and create lasting memories. A time to have warm drinks, and bake homemade cookies, but among these traditions is another tradition that’s a bit more Grinch like. On average, Americans throw away almost twenty five percent more waste during the holidays than any other time of the year. Throw away holiday cards, wrapping paper, and colorful ribbons all contribute to a higher amount of waste. Adding on to that a higher amount of methane gas being released into the atmosphere due to the extra waste in landfills. This is definitely something you didn’t write on your list to Santa! With this in mind there are a few ways you can reduce your waste during the holidays.
First, use alternative wrapping paper or give a gift that needs no packing at all. Wrapping paper found in stores is not recyclable due to the colorful hues, foils, and shiny coatings therefore end up in landfills. For alternative wrapping paper you can use old newspapers, scraps of fabric, paper bags, jars, maps, and magazine covers are all great substitutes to use. Here are some more tips. Try giving a gift such as a travel destination or going to a movie. A gift that needs no packaging at all!
Second,use energy saving LED holiday lights. Lights are a great way to make your home look ready for the holidays, but their effect on your wallet isn’t so bright. By using non-LED lights your electricity bill could be raised by sixty dollars! However, when you use LED lights the amount of electricity you use is cut by ninety percent and you can put the sixty bucks back into your wallet.
Thirdly, recycle your Christmas trees. On average ten million Christmas trees end up landfills each holiday season, and there is a really simple solution to this issue. Recycle your Christmas tree! Many cities, including Minneapolis, offer services to turn your Christmas tree into reusable mulch or wood chips. Some services will even come to your home and pick up the tree for you.
Finally, if you do end up with more “stuff” than you think you’ll actually use or need to clean out and make space for new things, consider sharing! The Twin Cities have a great network of thrift stores, many with missions to give back to our local community, that will take donations of good quality, use-able items. Giving things away for free on Craigslist, Facebook, or NextDoor can be a great way to connect with neighbors. And don’t forget about Augsburg’s new ShareShop! Located in the basement of the old Science building, next to the Free Table and Campus Cupboard, this space is student-led and in need of good that students can check-out for a day, week, month, or semester. Sharing “stuff” reduces consumption and waste, and also makes moving easier for students in transition. Students are also hoping to set up the space for repurposing items, so if your favorite ugly Christmas sweater has too many holes in it, being it over and turn it into a new pair of mittens for the New Year! Stop by the ShareShop during open hours to check it out!