The holidays are a time for celebration and family! They involve gatherings and gift-giving, which leads to excess paper and plastic waste. As the holidays wind down, make it your new year’s resolution to live more sustainably. To get inspired, follow these tips. 

The holidays are a time for celebration and family! They involve gatherings and gift-giving, which leads to excess paper and plastic waste

1. Donate Your Unwanted Gifts 

Throughout the holidays, you consume lots of things. Sometimes the items you receive just end up sitting around your house. Instead of throwing away unwanted presents, sell or donate them. You can give them new life and prevent them from ending up in landfills. 

Also, repurposing items limits overproduction. When new clothes are manufactured, they emit greenhouse gasses and waste water. Consider selling your things on sites like eBay or Poshmark. You can also help a child in need and donate to Goodwill. 

2.  Repurpose Decorations 

Americans throw away 25% more trash during Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time. Some of this waste comes from old holiday decorations. Instead of buying new decorations each year, repurpose your old ones. You can reuse items like lights or ornaments. To safely store your baubles, place them in a layered container with tissue paper. In addition to helping the planet, you’re also saving money. 

3. Carry Around Reusable Bags 

Most stores will place your items in plastic bags. Much of this plastic ends up in landfills and takes 20 years to decompose. As it breaks down it emits greenhouse gasses into the air. Also, some bags are carried into the ocean and harm marine life. 

So, bring some reusable bags to your next shopping trip. They help the planet and can be sturdier. You can purchase these types of bags from Amazon or at your local retail stores. 

4.  Recycle Items 

As you’re doing a post-holiday cleaning, make sure to recycle. Recycling helps prevent pollution and saves energy. First,  research which items can be recycled, such as cardboard, paper, and food boxes. Also, understand your local recycling guidelines. Some states have their own rules for how to separate items and where to leave your bin. 

5. Save Your Holiday Leftovers 

After the holidays are done, you may end up with leftovers from family gatherings. You want to properly store or freeze these meals. Read the storage instructions carefully. Also, keep your refrigerator at or below 40 ℉ to prevent food from spoiling. Consider buying a thermometer to regularly check the temperature. 

Leftovers can make good dinners for nights when you don’t feel like cooking. Plus, it will save you a trip to the grocery store. 

6. Compost Your Expired Food

Any food that has gone bad, throw it in your compost pile. If you don’t have one, consider creating one for your backyard. Either order a bin online or repurpose an old one. Place it in a location that has enough exposure to air and water. 

Then you can start adding stuff to the pile. You can add vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, or leaves from your yard. Also, regularly monitor the temperature of your pile. If the temperature is too cold you will need to mix it. 

Composting is great for the environment. It helps to retain water and prevent erosion and runoff. In addition, it holds pollutants improving river quality. The composting process also helps provide nutrients to the soil. 

7. Use Less Paper 

Paper is one of the common materials that end up in landfills. You may have used it to write down your new year’s resolutions. Also, as kids return to school they will stock up on notebooks and lined paper. Most of this paper is then not recycled. In 2018, landfills received 17. 2 million tons of paper and paper board.

To cut back on your paper usage, take notes and write reminders electronically. You can also sign up for electronic bill payments. These can be more convenient and waste less paper. 

How to Be Sustainable This Year

Living a sustainable lifestyle can be simple. After the holidays is the perfect chance to reuse or recycle your unwanted items. So, try these tips to stay eco-friendly after the holiday season. 


Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.

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