Christmas is a stressful time. Finding the perfect gift for everyone is a near impossible task, especially when no one knows what they want. Luckily, during the holidays most things are on sale and have free shipping. It makes shopping easier and faster. There’s no down side, right?
The Cost of Holiday Shopping
Though the holidays might be a wonderful time for you and your family, it isn’t for the earth. The amount of trash produced between thanksgiving and New Years increases by 25%. On top of that, with everyone driving more and deliveries increased, CO2 emissions increase.
A lot of this trash is created by people buying cheap clothes during the holidays and then hardly using them. During the holidays, the sales of “holiday dresses” goes up. These clothes are often made unethically and cheaply, and are usually only worn once for a party and then never used again.
It is better to get a dress or a sweater that can be used at all times of the year then only once. Every year trash is filled with holiday themed apparel. Another problem is that fast fashion blows up during the holiday season. Corporations will hold huge sales for clothes that mostly end up in the garbage because the clothes are poor quality. However, fashion is one of the biggest industries out there for a reason- everyone likes clothes. If I can’t get clothes for my loved ones what am I supposed to get them?
The best solution, of course, is to stop buying presents. While this may seem radical, your loved ones might prefer it. Maybe instead of spending money on presents, take your family on a vacation. If this isn’t possible, consider making something from scratch. Homemade gifts don’t have to be tacky or low effort. Consider cooking your speciality dish or making a scrapbook. These oftentimes are the gifts that mean the most to people. However, if you are not the creative type, you can always give the ones you love the gift they probably want the most: cash. You don’t have to worry about giving them something they don’t like if they can buy it themselves. If cash seems a little too impersonal, you can always get them a gift card.
However, buying nothing for Christmas seems a little impractical, especially if you have children in your life that want very specific toys. Is there anything else you can do to be more environmentally friendly during the holidays?
Wrapping Paper Landfills
An easy way to help stop the trash from increasing during the holidays is to skip the wrapping paper. Americans spent $12.7 million on wrapping paper in 2017 and all of that money went straight into the trash once presents were open.
A better way of wrapping presents is to use paper bags with a note on them asking the gift recipient to reuse the bag. And make sure to reuse all of the gift bags you receive during the holidays. It could save a lot of money and the environment.
Skip The Fast Shipping
I’m sure you’ve all been in this situation: you go to buy something and it offers to give you free two day shipping. There’s no reason not to take the offer right? After all, there’s no harm in faster shipping.
It turns out that it can actually be very harmful. Fast shipping is actually very bad for the environment. Because companies are rushing to get the gifts to you as fast as possible, they often aren’t using the most efficient ways to ship the gifts out. For example, they will send out trucks that are half full or send two different trucks to the same location.
This is a problem because transportation accounts for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions each year. If the number of trucks delivering packages is reduced, then the greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced.
The answer to this problem might not be what you think- to stop online shopping all together. Stopping online shopping would mean consumers would go in their individual cars to stores to buy their presents. This would produce more greenhouse gas then the delivery trucks. At least with delivery trucks only one vehicle is bringing gifts to the buyers. However, there is a way to make delivery more efficient.
The solution to this is to use regular shipping. It is usually cheaper and will give the companies time to find the most efficient way to send your package. It also helps to get your holiday shopping done early. That way you can order all of your gifts at the same time and companies can send one truck instead of several to deliver your packages.
While all these methods might take some time getting used to, in the long run it helps the environment, and usually your wallets. Besides, the holidays are about spending time with your family not gifts. You should be focusing on what’s important, not consumerism.
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By Isabella LaPlant