The holidays are upon us and after the year we’ve all had, we couldn’t be more excited. Unfortunately, with all of the joy and festivities comes a lot of single-use plastic and waste. Take a moment to think about your own holiday traditions: do you buy new plastic ornaments or don your tree in tinsel? Many of our favorite holiday items contain plastic, including wrapping paper, bows and synthetic fabrics (stockings anyone?)

In fact, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year holiday period than any other time of year.

Jennifer Hart, Surfrider Foundation

Check out these tips to make this holiday season plastic-free and even more merry.

  1. Choose Scratch Over Store-Bought
    To avoid the unnecessary plastic, focus on cooking from scratch. Most store-bought
    dishes from supermarkets and restaurants will be packaged in plastic containers. When
    faced with a choice of packaging, choose glass or paper over plastic.
  2. Shop Local
    Shopping locally not only reduces your meal’s carbon footprint, but you can bring your
    own bags and containers and you’re less likely to encounter plastic packaging than at
    your grocery store.
  3. Use Sustainable Decor
    Forget the dollar store, make the perfect fall decor for your table setting with things from
    your backyard and local farm stand.
  4. Serve on Reusable Dishes & Dinnerware 
    Plastic utensils and cups end up in landfills, incinerators, or waterways where they can
    pose a threat to wildlife. Set your table with reusable plates, cups, serving platters,
    utensils and napkins and save money at the same time.
  5. Provide or Bring Reusable Containers for Leftovers
    Going to family or friend’s home for dinner? Bring your own glass or metal containers to
    cart home some delicious leftovers. Try beeswax-coated fabric wraps to take the place of
    plastic wrap or tinfoil. If you are hosting the dinner, remind guests to bring reusable
    containers with them or provide reusable containers for them.
  6. Compost!
    Compost any scraps from cooking or leftovers that aren’t being saved, as well as any
    compostable decor you’ve put up (once you tire of it).
    Adapted from Judith Enck’s Beyond Plastics – 6 Steps to Plastic Free Holidays