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A More Circular Season: Tips for Greening Your Holidays

During the 2021 holiday season, shoppers expect to spend an average of $998 on gifts and other holiday expenses according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) Holiday and Seasonal Trends survey. We encourage you to take a look at your own spending this season and consider if it's sustainable for the planet. For instance, the US uses 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper in the month of December, the majority of which will be sent to our landfills along with over 10 million Christmas trees. We're not just here to dampen your holiday spirit with stats though - our team has put together a collection of practical (and even fun!) green alternatives.



Gifts:

We might assume that most of our wrapping paper can be recycled but in reality, much of it is lined with plastic or includes glitter that prevents this from happening. Let's cut down on our packaging AND products!

  • Make a donation in someone's name to a cause / organization that connects you or reflects their passions

  • Gift an experience rather than an object

  • Buy less and prioritize lasting items

  • Buy from local businesses

  • Buy from small businesses

  • Make the wrapping part of the gift - scarves, bandanas, tea towels etc.

  • Commit to reusing gift bags with your friends and family

  • Wrap with newspaper or craft paper - you could decorate it as a family activity!


Trees:

While trees do break down naturally, a lot of municipal trash ends up underground where there’s little oxygen. The bacteria that thrive in these places tend to turn that carbon into methane, which does more than 20 times as much damage to global temperatures as carbon dioxide. Instead, we should be looking for ways to trap that carbon in the wood so that it can return to the soil.


Most major cities host a Christmas tree recycling program where you can drop off your tree at designated parks for it to be turned into mulch. This year, Chicago will have 25 locations! If you're planning to do a drop off, consider taking along the trees of a neighbor or two as well!



Snow / Ice Removal:

Common ice melt (sodium chloride) is harmful to plants and fish, corrodes wood and metal, and burns pets' paws. While alternatives exist, it is also important to not overuse ice melt in general. Its primary purpose is to actually break the bond between ice and the surface it is on, allowing it to be more easily shoveled/plowed. That's why municipalities will salt roads before the snow starts so it doesn't stick. However, most people rely on the melting properties to remove ice buildup entirely, or are simply unaware of how much to apply.


Alternatives to try:

  • Potassium Formate (SynaTek Entry, Bare Ground Clear Way, Glide Path) - Paw safe, biodegradable, good to -20F, liquid only, hard to find

  • Calcium Chloride (Safe Step 7300) - Paw safe, works fast, even less corrosive, good to -25F

  • Magnesium Chloride (Safe Step 8300) - Paw safe, works fast, less corrosive, good to -5F

  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate aka CMA (most other 'pet safe' products) - Non-toxic, paw safe, expensive, good to +20F

  • Sugar Beet (Fusion 2330) - paw safe, plant safe, can harm waterways, good to -20F, very expensive, can stain surfaces, hard to find

  • Urea / Carbonyl Diamide (Safe Paw) - Non-toxic, paw safe, good to -2F, less effective than other options