Happy Eco-Friendly Holidays!

Learn a few tips to reduce waste this season.

By Anneliza Itkor, Outside Hilton Head

Who doesn’t love the holiday season? The parties, the shopping, the gift exchanges — what fun!

However, the holidays have a, shall we say, less-than-dazzling side: the trash. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, U.S. households generate 25 percent more waste. That equates to 25 million tons of garbage. Let’s remember that a compact car weighs just over 2 tons. So that would be the equivalent weight of 12.5 million Toyota Corollas.

This is a distressing fact for anyone who is trying to be more eco-friendly. The good news? Just a few minor tweaks can make some major changes to reduce unnecessary waste.

Thoughtful Gifting

Instead of falling prey to whatever gimmicky gift is all the rage this year, take a moment and think about how that product may impact our planet. Landfills are stuffed full of mood rings and Cabbage Patch dolls.

Instead, look for durable and re-usable items. Think about giving gifts that have an eco-friendly message, like a refillable water bottle or re-usable straw. Choose products that are solar-powered, or even better, use no power at all. You might consider giving gifts that can be consumed (no fruitcake, please) or planted.

Or best of all, give the gift of a wonderful memory. Plan an outing for friends or family that introduces them to something exciting and new. A trip to a museum, a cooking class or getting outside for a kayak trip or a hike are fantastic “gifts” that not only create memories to treasure, but generate little or no waste.

Waste-Free Wrapping

Beaufort County successfully banned the use of plastic bags in retail stores this past November. Rather than using wrapping paper and ribbon or paper gift bags, how about stowing your gift in a cute re-usable shopping bag so your giftee can use it (and think of you) again and again?

If every household wrapped just three presents in reusable materials, the paper saved could cover 45,000 football fields!

Discriminating Decorating

Nothing says Happy Holidays like a beautifully decorated tree and sparkling lights galore. However, cut trees take up a tremendous amount of space in landfills, and those strings of lights can use a lot of electricity.

Instead, consider decorating a live tree that can be planted in the ground when the holiday season is over. Carolina Sapphire, Eastern Red Cedar, Fraser Fir, White Pine and Virginia Pine are just some of the varieties that can flourish in South Carolina. Or an artificial tree can be used season after season (and the pre-lit varieties are the bomb!). 

If you just can’t live without a fresh-cut tree, make sure you compost it. Both Hilton Head and Bluffton offer multiple sites for free tree recycling. Also, remember to turn off your holiday lights before bed and close your chimney flue after enjoying a hot chocolate snuggled up in front of the fire.

For more great tips about how to reduce waste during the holidays, visit use-less-stuff.com. And be sure to stop by Outside Hilton Head, Iocated at 50 Shelter Cove Lane. Our awesome staff can offer you all sorts of guidance in selecting the perfect environmentally mindful gift.

This is also a great time to book a family adventure on the water at outsidehiltonhead.com. #getoutside

For more than 30 years, Outside Hilton Head has provided personalized adventures for all ages, from kayaking, fishing, nature and dolphin tours to kids’ camps, history excursions, family outings and standup paddleboarding. To book an outing with Outside Hilton Head, call (843) 686-6996 or outsidehiltonhead.com.