It’s the Most Wasteful Time of the Year

Rylee Cagle, Formatting Editor

   Oh the holidays! From indulging on holiday food (turkey and mashed potatoes, anyone?) to tearing apart beautifully wrapped presents on Christmas morning, the holidays are rife with traditions. For me there is nothing better than shopping at Home Goods and Amazon for the perfect gift. Like most people, I look forward to wrapping presents and decorating the Christmas tree to celebrate the beauty of the holidays.
As we learn from the grandeur in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, though, beautiful things in life often have a corrupt underbelly… For the holiday season that underbelly is waste.
In fact, in the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans throw away 25% more trash than during any other time of the year. Anywhere from food waste to tinsel, this extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage– more than 1 million tons per week.
What could we possibly be throwing away during this time? Allow me to enlighten you. Ribbon, wrapping paper, Christmas cards, cardboard boxes, and food are among the most discarded items during the holidays, and each has a whopping statistic to follow it.
2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold each year as a part of holiday traditions. While these cards are a welcomed keepsake for many families, the amount of them being sold could fill an entire football field 10 stories high. 10 stories high.
   Ribbon, an item arguably never used throughout the year, is bought in excess during Christmas time. Though gifts look wonderful adorned with a bow, more often than not this ribbon gets tossed in the trash, rather than reused. If every family made an effort to reuse just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
Similarly if every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. A simple effort to save wrapping paper or to wrap with newspaper or reusable boxes and tins, would have an incredible impact. Imagine that!
I’m not asking you to abandon your holiday traditions–after all our traditions reflect memories, joy, and love that cannot be found elsewhere. What I am asking, though, is that you try to break from the culture of waste that we currently live in. Through simple substitutions, we can change the narrative and create a more beautiful, more sustainable planet…even during the most wonderful time of the year.

For Sources and More Information…
1. https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention
2. https://sustainableamerica.org/blog/25-holiday-facts/
3. https://www.popsci.com/how-to-reduce-holiday-waste/