How to Start the Holidays with a Zero Waste Mindset

homemade holiday decorations

If you’re already trying to reduce your waste at home, odds are Christmas is causing somewhat of a concern.  It’s no secret that the holidays are the most wasteful time of the year in America.

Get this: Americans throw away 25% more trash during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years than any other time of year. 

That figure amounts to something like 1 million extra tons of garbage every single week. Can you believe that?! 

The Holiday Waste Issue

It’s not hard to see where all that garbage comes from… As soon as December 1st rolls around the number of gifts we receive, the number of parties we attend, and the amount of traveling we do skyrockets to a level that is unmatched the rest of the year. 

Why do we do it? To uphold this image of holiday glamour and the charmed life.

But at what cost?

I’m so tired of throwing away wrapping paper, you guys!

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Our Zero Waste Christmas Mindset

A Zero Waste Christmas is totally possible. But I’m not going to try and convince you that it’s a breeze. Creating a “traditional” Christmas under a set of  Zero Waste restrictions is challenging, but it’s not impossible!

Here’s how Josh and I are approaching our Zero Waste Christmas this year.

We are focusing on smarter purchasing.

Gift-giving has been a fantastic opportunity for Josh and I to exercise our Zero Waste muscles. At the beginning of the season we made an intentional choice to gift items that were exclusively handmade, vintage, or purchased from local artisans in the Cheyenne area. 

It’s actually been a lot of fun! We’ve saved a great deal of money by utilizing our skills and talents and we feel really great about supporting local business.

I think we’ve been able to do all of this without sacrificing any aspect of gift-giving. Our choices are personal and sustainable!

We are choosing to place more value in experiences.

As a gift to both our families, Josh and I made traveling to Washington to visit a priority. It’s a trip we’ve been looking forward to for a long time! So excited that it is just around the corner.

Focusing in on experiences (versus stuff) has been a big part of creating a Zero Waste Christmas. Both of us were lucky to grow up in families that prioritized this as well, so it’s been a welcome continuation of that tradition.

We are using the holidays as an opportunity to influence others.

When we started our Zero Waste quest, Josh and I were extremely intentional about making sure that we never forced into our way of living. Zero Waste is our choice. You do you!

However, we’ve found that by living out our values we’ve been able to influence and inspire others to make better choices. 

A wonderful, local Rotary Club recently asked me to come speak at their club and share some tips on how members might reduce waste in their own lives. It was an incredibly inspiring experience and I absolutely loved spreading the message. 

Just think of me as your Zero Waste guinea pig. And let me know if you’d like to give it a try!

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