Activities abound during the holiday season, from special dinners to gift-giving parties. If you’re not careful, these events can produce a lot of waste and have a heavy impact on the environment. Make your holiday season a gift to the planet with some smart strategies in place to keep things green. We have a few easy suggestions that will help you live lighter on the earth without investing too much time during this busy and bustling time of the year.
Use Eco-Friendly Wrapping
Minimize your holiday waste with wrapping products that are easy on the environment. Many traditional wrapping papers and gift bags contain plastic or toxic inks. Steer clear of these products and look for wrapping paper that’s compostable or recyclable. Simple newspaper or craft paper is a great option. Some companies even use recycled newspaper products as the base for their papers and print fresh designs on them for a splash of festive fun. Better yet, you can skip the wrapping altogether and simply tie natural cotton ribbon around your gifts.
Another eco-friendly option is reusable wrapping paper. Cloth gift bags and stretch fabric wrapping will survive several runs through the holiday gifting season. We love products like this because the wrapping can then double as a gift to the recipient, equipping them with a simple way to minimize trash as they wrap their own gifts for the next year.
Compost Your Holiday Feast
Composting is a great way to minimize the mess after your holiday meals. You can compost a wide range of food products, including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Coffee grounds
- Coffee filters
- Tea bags
You should not compost dairy products, eggs, or meat products, as these often create unpleasant odors and attract unwanted pests like insects and rodents. As you’re managing your compost pile or bin, alternate green products like those listed above with brown products such as leaves, straw, hay, twigs, wood chips, newspaper, and cardboard. Some of your holiday wrapping may count as a brown product that you can layer in with your food waste, as long as the paper is biodegradable.
A healthy compost pile won’t have an unpleasant odor. It will generate enough heat for the items to break down efficiently into a rich compost that looks and feels much like soil. You can use this compost in your garden to enrich the soil that’s already in place and reduce the need for chemical fertilizer. This means that your holiday waste this year may translate to a lusher, brighter garden come spring.
Make Natural Air Fresheners
We love a good, clean smell as much as the next person, but we’re wary of the many commercial air fresheners that get the job done by adding irritants to the air. Air freshener sprays, oils, and plug-ins often contain chemicals like toluene, formaldehyde, benzene, parabens, and phthalates among others. Many of these are known carcinogens or linked to problems like hormone disruption and reproductive toxicity.
Keep your home smelling fresh and clean for the holiday season with all-natural air fresheners instead. Taking a DIY approach is the best way to accomplish this, as there are no regulations for labels such as “all natural” or “green” on these types of products. If you purchase a commercial air freshener, you must check the label to make sure it’s really free of potentially harmful ingredients.
Fortunately, creating homemade air fresheners is quick and easy. Our favorite thing about this approach is the opportunity to customize the finished product. For a holiday scent, consider:
- Making a pomander by sticking cloves into an orange
- Simmering cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, orange peels, and vanilla beans in a pot of water on the stove
- Placing essential oils in a diffuser; try eucalyptus, juniper berry, and sage for a cozy winter scent
Keep in mind, too, that the best way to keep your home smelling fresh is simply to keep it clean. The holidays can get busy, so you may want to consider hiring professional help for a great deep cleaning that will eliminate unwanted odors.
Ditch the Disposables
Eliminate disposable products from your holiday routine to keep things easier on the earth. Stop using paper plates and plastic silverware for your special meals. Pull out your fine china and silverware for Thanksgiving dinner and honor your guests with the rare use of your best pieces. Equip your kitchen with cotton rags in place of paper towels. Place hand towels out in the bathroom to eliminate paper towels here as well. These small swaps have a big impact on the amount of waste your household creates.
If you need a hand keeping things clean and green during the holidays, we can help. Our professional cleaning team has all the tools and know-how you need to get your home set for a fresh, eco-friendly holiday season.