Reducing Waste During the Holidays

If there is one negative thing I have learned about as a parent that I didn’t realize before I had my son, it how much waste one little babe can create. Of course it’s not the babes fault, it my fault, and the norms we have in our culture for consuming and well…wasting. It goes beyond the diapers and wipes. I’ve spent hours in front of the TV for the last 2 1/2 years watching numerous Discovery Channel and National Geographic series with my son, watching plastic floating around in the ocean. Islands worth of plastic, frankly it grossed me out.

As thankful as I am for having a close family and great group of friends, even before I had my son I realized that waste was going to be an issue. Starting from the baby shower, to my son’s first Christmas and Birthday. By his first birthday my husband and I had to limit gifts, especially toys. We were quickly over run by toys, with no where to put them, and found ourselves cleaning, organizing, did I say cleaning? This year I’d like to share tips on how to minimize waste this Holiday season.

Ways to help minimize waste this holiday:

  • Stop buying. Become a more conscious consumer. Ask yourself how much an item is needed, how long it will actually be used or played with. Then decide if it’s worth buying. Don’t buy just to buy.
  • Spread the word to family. If you have a large family, or just family members who like to splurge, ask them politely to limit gifts. Give them just one or two ideas, rather than a list. Reminders that time together is more important than gifts are helpful.
  • Be selective. Choose toys that have longevity. For us my son continues to play with about 4 toy groups over and over. The rest tend to sit. For him anything with a ball, his train set, Magna-Tiles, and his fishing pole keep him active day after day.

More conscientious toys:

  • Try toys made from or partially from wood or bamboo.
  • By used. Especially during infancy and toddlerhood, kids develop so quickly and don’t know the difference between new or gently used.
  • Time not toys. Buy quality time with your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. Tickets to movies, zoos, museums, expos, or even babysitting can be a better way to connect with your loved ones rather than material items.
  • The arts and hobbies. Give the gift of creativity. STEM projects, crafting materials, gardening tools, baking gadgets. You can create craft or hobby boxes, and either repurpose or reuse items. Or if going the baking and gardening routes, get kid friendly tools that actually can be used for along time.

Conscientious wrapping:

  • Use reusable gift bags. We’ve been doing this in my family for years. When the holiday is over we use the bags for shopping or groceries.
  • Reuse paper gift bags and ribbons. Preserve in storage bins to keep them from being damaged. Reuse the next holiday or birthday.
  • Make your own wrapping paper using brown shopping bags.
  • Skip the wrapping. Roll or arrange items prettily and top with a ribbon or bow.

Hope you all find these tips helpful this season. Happy Holidays! May you find less mess this Holiday season, while helping preserve our planet!

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