Improvements for the holiday season are overdue


Art by Stella Fetherston

Katherine Kang, Staff Writer

When people think about the changes that they would like to make around the holiday season, some might wish for more snow, longer time off of school or work or fewer forced listens to “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

Not everyone would consider wishing for ways to reduce the holiday waste produced each year, but it’s about time we do.

According to Stanford University’s website, “Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week.”

They add that if each family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon and wrapped just three presents in reused material, it would save 38,000 miles of ribbon and enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. Furthermore, the U.S. sells 2.65 billion Christmas cards every year; if each person sent one fewer card this year, 50,000 cubic yards of paper would also be saved.

When told these statistics, Tualatin High School senior Alayna Huque and junior Ethan Marreel revealed that the amount we waste during the holiday season did not surprise them, but they both worried that holiday unsustainability would continue to worsen the environment. To combat this, the students gave ideas for some eco-friendly changes they would like to see be made this year.

For example, Huque suggested ways for individuals to reduce and reuse materials when gift giving. 

“Instead of wrapping presents, use or reuse gift bags,” she said. “And instead of throwing away tissue paper, find a way to reuse that as well.” 

Marreel focused on changes that could be made from big companies and stores. He shared that he would like to see more corporations using less plastic, cardboard and foam when packaging and shipping their products.

Huque also stated, “A big part of the holidays is decorating, like putting up lights and setting up trees. I wish we could still get to do that but in a more eco-friendly way.”

There are many solutions for one to decorate while being considerate of the environment. For instance, opt for LED lights in place of incandescent lights since LEDs consume less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs. Additionally, buy real trees instead of artificial ones to support tree farms and to eliminate the carbon emissions that are produced from manufacturing fake trees.

Finally, it’s important to stay green even once the holiday season ends. Try to salvage wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows that you can reuse in future presents, and save decorations and costumes for next year. If you end up with items that need to be disposed of, it’s always best to recycle them as well. The Ridwell Inc recycling center in Portland will take in holiday lights, and you can cut up your tree into smaller pieces to put inside the yard debris cart.

The holiday spirit is much brighter when we make eco-friendly decisions, and taking care of the Earth will allow us to continue celebrating in the future. This year, let’s make an effort to dream of a green Chrisitmas and deck the halls with less waste so we will be able to bring joy to the world for many more years to come!