Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at GreenChoice! If you aren’t already in a food coma, here are some holiday consumer facts and suggestions for how you can have a more sustainable holiday while living your values:
In 2017, 174 million Americans shopped on Black Friday weekend (between Thanksgiving day and through Cyber Monday). The average per person spending over the five-day weekend was $335.47 with older millennials (ages 25-34) spending the most per person, $419.52. A consumer survey found that those who shopped both online and in-store spent $82 more on average than those who shopped via just one channel (NRF).
Before you head out to pick up gifts for your loved ones, think about the stores that you are going to be making a purchase from. Do their values line up with yours? Every time we make a purchase we are voting with our values, choosing to support that company and their practices. It can be easy to overlook negative practices for convenience sake or to secure the best deal but we encourage you to take the time to think about where your gifts came from this year.
Due to the fact that the holidays have become so commercialized and centered around food, it is also a time where we generate a tremendous amount of waste. During the time between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans throw away 25 percent more garbage which equates to 25 million tons of trash (Stanford). In addition, Americans discard nearly $11 million of packing materials and 15 million used Christmas trees (NEEF).
The discarded holiday materials wind up in landfills where it, like all waste, undergoes bacterial decomposition. This process releases various greenhouse gasses including carbon dioxide and methane into our atmosphere. Landfills account for the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the USA (NEEF). Methane is particularly harmful to the environment, it is 28 to 36 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (EPA).
Keeping these things in mind, here are some suggestions for how you can be kinder to the environment this holiday season:
Give the gift of experience: travel, go to a sporting or art event, give memberships to things (athletic clubs, health spas, amusement parks, etc.)
Hand-make gifts instead of buying them, if you can use recycled materials, even better!
If you’re not crafty, look for companies that use recycled or up-cycled materials
Use reusable plates, cutlery, cups, napkins when at holiday gatherings
Compost your food waste, donate it untouched leftovers, or recycle food waste as animal food (provided it is safe for animals to consume)
Consider sending e-cards for the holidays instead of paper ones
Wrap presents in newspaper or colorful magazine pages. Save in-tact wrapping paper when opening gifts to recycle next year.
Mulch your Christmas trees instead of tossing them in the trash when the holiday is over
If you are interested in more information on shopping your values, check out this NPR interview with columnists David Sirota and Mario Loyola.
GC Content Writer: Rilee Dubilo