The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but they can produce a lot of waste. According to Stanford University, Americans generate a whopping 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year’s — at a rate of about 1 million extra tons per week! So here are 10 ideas to get you excited about reducing trash while still enjoying all of your favorite festivities.
1. Repurpose paper bags, newspaper, and magazine pages to package your gifts.
This is the easiest trick in the book to avoid creating unnecessary waste. Repurposing paper bags from the grocery store, pasting together fun magazine pages, or wrapping a gift in the newspaper that was heading for the recycle bin anyway, are all great ways to thoughtfully package gifts. Not only can this packing method be beautiful (you can even get creative by adding unique designs to paper bags), it might also inspire your loved ones to do the same in the future. Plus — it’s what’s on the inside that counts anyway!
2. Hold onto bubble wrap and other packing materials from online orders to reuse for anything else you might have to send.
This time of year can bring a slew of packages to our front door, and many are bound to arrive with excess packaging. So, instead of tossing out that bubble wrap and packing paper, hold on to it for the next time you need to send a package.
3. Make a list, and check it twice!
Shop sustainable swaps, including reusable travel silverware, Ocean Aloha merchandise, and more at Maui Ocean Treasures. Gifting thoughtful items that the recipient will actually use is the goal, right?
4. Or, opt for an experience-based gift instead, like an Nā Hoa Kai membership.
Alternatively, you can head to Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute’s website to adopt a honu (sea turtle) or make a general donation in your special someone’s name to support turtle rescue and rehabilitation and coral reef propagation.
5. Avoid food waste by composting food scraps from your holiday meals or sharing leftovers with friends or neighbors.
Food waste is an issue year-round, and enrolling in a local compost pickup or starting your very own heap in the backyard is one of the best ways to combat this issue. But, if composting isn’t an option, you can always offer your leftovers to someone who will eat them!
6. Think of reusable options for holiday cooking.
Washing a few dishes beats unnecessary waste in our landfills, so put the disposable baking pans back on the shelf and break out your casserole pans instead.
7. Gather the family for a nature walk and pick up any trash you find along the way.
When you’re all stuffed after a festive feast, it can be glorious to cuddle up on the couch for a nap. But pressing pause on your snooze and opting for a short nature walk can get those digestive juices working while allowing for a family outing to clean up the areas around you.
8. Gather a carpool group for holiday parties.
The holidays are not the time to underestimate the power of carpooling. With seemingly endless cookie swaps and secret Santa parties ahead, you can work towards lowering your carbon footprint by cruising to gatherings as a group. A fun perk of this one — more chances to jam out to your favorite holiday songs!
9. Purchase local produce for your favorite seasonal dishes, or make reservations at Seascape Restaurant for a sustainable meal that gives back to Hawaiʻi’s farmers.
Supporting local has been huge this year, but there’s an additional element that’s often forgotten, and it has to do with the food on our tables. By choosing produce that was grown nearby, you’ll not only have a more nutritious and delicious meal, but you’ll also be supporting local farmers and helping to reduce globally imported food, which has a significant impact on our planet. Or, if you’ve decided you’ve done enough cooking for the year, you can make a reservation for a delicious Christmas Day feast at Seascape instead.
10. Make some thoughtful New Years Resolutions and get your family and friends involved.
Maybe you’ll decide to carry a reusable coffee cup with you next year or make it your mission to start a garden. Whatever contributions you can make for a healthier world in 2022 will help to support marine conservation for our future generations.