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How Celebrating Holiday Increase Plastic Pollution?

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Author: Hai Le

Updated on September 7, 2023 • Estimated read time: 7 minutes

Holidays are a time for celebrating and spending with our loved ones. However, they can also be a major contributor to plastic pollution. During holidays, we tend to eat more, drink more, and buy more stuff, and as a result, we also throw away more.

Fun Fact: According to a recent study, Americans generate an estimated 25% more waste (about 25 million tons of garbage) between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day than the rest of the year.

While it is impossible to eliminate all plastic waste from holiday celebrations, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce your impact. In this blog post, we will delve into how holiday celebrations contribute to plastic pollution and give practical alternatives and solutions to help you make the holidays a more sustainable time of year.

Gift Wrapping And Packaging

Holidays and gift-giving often go hand in hand. Whether it's the candy wrapped inside the plastic Easter eggs, or the Halloween trinkets that are widely distributed and discarded after use. Oh, and don't forget the infamous Christmas gift exchange.

All of these beautifully wrapped gifts often are made from non-recyclable plastic, such as cellophane, bubble wrap, shrink wrap, and tape. This creates a lot of waste that ends up in landfills, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose.

SolutionChoose gifts that are wrapped in recyclable or reusable materials. Use eco-friendly options like recycled paper, fabric, or reusable gift bags with minimal packaging to reduce the overall amount of packaging waste.

Summary: Gift wrapping and packaging can be a major source of plastic pollution during the holidays. The good news is that there are sustainable alternatives. By choosing eco-friendly gift wrap options and opting for gifts with minimal packaging, we can all help reduce our impact on the environment.

Tomato in plastic package on turquoise background - Ecopify

Single-Use Plastic Decorations

Fun Fact: According to National Christmas Tree Association, there are approximately 25-30 million Real Christmas Trees sold in the US every year, and a single tree can produce up to 10 pounds of waste, including plastic needles, ornaments, and decorations.

Holiday decorations are a staple of many cultures around the world. They add color and festive spirit to our homes and communities. However, many holiday decorations are made from single-use plastic, which can contribute to plastic pollution.

Decorations like balloons, party favors, and plastic ornaments are also single-use items. Once the celebrations are over, they end up in the trash, destined to take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills.

SolutionHolidays come every year, so choose reusable decorations. There are so many beautiful and festive reusable decorations available that can be used year after year.

Summary: Holiday decorations can be a beautiful way to celebrate the season, but single-use plastic decorations can be a major source of plastic waste. By choosing reusable decorations, we can reduce our impact on the environment.

Single-use plastic cups in garbage bin - Ecopify

Disposable Tableware And Cutlery

During holidays, when families and friends come together for feasts and parties, the consumption of disposable tableware and cutlery skyrockets. Holiday feasts often involve disposable plates, cups, and cutlery for convenience.

While they simplify the post-celebration cleanup, these items are typically made of plastic and are discarded after one use. They can take hundreds of years to decompose and significantly contribute to plastic pollution.

SolutionUse reusable plates, cups, and utensils instead. While disposable partyware is appealing, as it cuts down on dishwashing, these items are single-serve and aren't recyclable.

Summary: Food and beverages are often packaged in single-use plastic containers, and many holiday meals often involve disposable plates, utensils, and cups. So, it is important to choose sustainable tableware and cutlery to reduce our impact on the environment during the holiday season.

Family on holiday shopping - Ecopify

Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping, whether in physical stores or online, often leads to an increase in plastic bags, and packaging ends up as waste in landfills or oceans.

Many holiday gifts are also single-use items, such as toys, decorations, and food packaging. These items are often made from plastic and are discarded after a short period of time.

Solution: Bring your reusable shopping bags when holiday shopping, and opt for products with minimal or no plastic packaging. Remember to support businesses that prioritize sustainability and eco-friendly packaging.

Summary: Holiday shopping can also be a major contributor to plastic pollution. They often involve purchasing a wide range of products, many of which are single-use and packaged in plastic.

hand holding a plant packed as a gift

What Can Be Done To Reduce Plastic Pollution During The Holidays?

Holidays are not only about celebrating and receiving, but they can also be about giving back to the planet. Luckily, there are some actionable steps we can take to reduce our plastic footprint during the holidays:

  • Reduce, Reuse, And Recycle: Make an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste you generate during the holidays. For example, you can reuse gift wrap, choose gifts that are packaged in recycled materials, and recycle all of your holiday waste.
  • Choose Sustainable Alternatives: There are many beautiful and sustainable options to disposable plastic products available on the market for you to choose from, so there is no need to sacrifice style for sustainability.
  • Support Businesses That Are Committed To Sustainability: When you shop for gifts or decorations, choose businesses that use sustainable materials and recyclable packaging. Your purchasing power can drive positive change in the market.

Summary: Avoid disposable plastic products, choose reusable alternatives whenever possible, and support businesses that can drive positive change. By following these tips, you can help to reduce plastic pollution and create a more sustainable holiday season.

Quick Takeaway 

So, how do our celebrations lead to increased plastic pollution?

  • Gift wrapping and packaging
  • Single-use plastic decorations
  • Disposable tableware and cutlery
  • Holiday shopping

The holiday season is a time for celebration, but it is also important to be mindful of these holiday activities that contribute to a significant increase in plastic pollution.

Frequently Asked Questions Relate To This Blog:

Question #1: How much plastic waste is generated during the holidays?

Answer: We don't know the exact numbers, but according to a recent study done by Stanford University, Americans generate an estimated 25% more waste (about 25 million tons of garbage) between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day than the rest of the year.

Question #2: What are the most common sources of plastic pollution during the holidays?

Answer: Gift wrapping, holiday decorations, food packaging, children toys, disposable cups and plates are some of the most common sources of plastic pollution during the holidays

Question #3: What are the environmental impacts of plastic pollution?

Answer: Plastic pollution can leach harmful chemicals into the environment, harm marine life, pollute waterways, and accumulate in landfills, where it can take up to hundreds of years to decompose.

Question #4: Why celebrating holiday when they are bad for the environment?

Answer: Not all holidays are bad for the environment. Some, like Earth Day, actually has a positive impact on the environment in a number of ways. They raises awareness about environmental issues, and encourages people to take action about protect our planet. Just be aware of the issue and remember to celebrate consciously.

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