Did you know Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve? (CDC 2018). Statistics like this help drive Virginia Tech’s sustainability manager Nathan King and the Virginia Tech Office of Sustainability to educate the university community – and beyond.

“Simple changes at the holidays can really add up when it comes to being more sustainable. And getting creative when it comes to gift giving, decorating, and dining just adds to the fun,” shares King.

He offers the following tips to keep in mind for more sustainable holidays.

Quoting King

Holiday dining: “Plan holiday meals in advance by cooking and storing food in reusable containers and try to ditch single-use plates, cups, and utensils in favor of your regular dishware to save landfill space.  Also, freeze your leftovers to eat later, compost food scraps, and donate unused food to your local food bank or homeless shelter.” 

Sustainable stocking stuffers: “This year, consider environmentally-friendly stocking stuffers like metal straws, beeswax wrap for storing snacks and sandwiches, bamboo toothbrushes, and more.”

LED holiday lighting: “Switch to energy-efficient LED holiday lights and LED candles. LED lighting strands use around 80 percent less electricity than regular holiday lights. Be sure to plug your LED lights into indoor and outdoor timers to further save on electricity costs.”

Gift giving: Consider giving the gift of experiences; that way you can cut down on the wrapping and spend memorable time with friends and family.

Sustainable wrapping: “Most traditional holiday wrapping paper cannot be recycled through curbside programs because of dyes and inks. Why not try out some more creative wrapping options like newspaper, fabric scraps, or simple brown craft paper?”

Invest in rechargeable batteries: “Give the gift of rechargeable batteries with new toys and devices. Each rechargeable battery can be used dozens of times and keeps batteries and heavy metal out of landfills.”

Shop local: “Shop small and locally this holiday season by visiting local merchants, farmers markets, and craft shows.”

Treecycling: “Many people aren’t aware you can bring your Christmas tree to a local landscaping or chipping facility so it can be recycled into mulch for trails, paths, and walkways.”

Send e-cards: “Consider sending out e-cards instead of traditional holiday cards. That way you’ll save on stamps, paper and reduce emissions from transport.”

About King

Nathan King is Virginia Tech’s university sustainability manager. He can be reached at naking@vt.edu for more questions.  To secure an interview, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.

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