With the last dregs of Halloween candy dwindling in lunch sacks and office break rooms across the nation while home gourmands are already sketching out shopping lists for the coming Thanksgiving bacchanal, it's time once again to lament the excesses of the holidays. This year, there seemed to be even more public handwringing than ever about the wastefulness of handing out sackfuls of individually wrapped, non-recyclable treats and what that might mean for a society fumbling toward sustainability.
But of course the sharpest critiques are saved for Christmas, with its over-packaged toys and mountains of discarded wrapping and décor. Statistically, it’s clear that Dec. 25 is the ne plus ultra of waste.
But I wonder, which holiday would most easily benefit from a green makeover? Halloween seems difficult to make more sustainable without fundamentally altering one of its central pillars: trick-or-treating. You could propose we return to a time of homemade treats in more environmentally friendly packaging, but that seems unlikely to fly with parents raised on tales of popcorn balls studded with razor blades.
Christmas has a lot of low-hanging fruit, waste-wise, but I think you’ll get a lot of pushback if you ask folks to employ some sort of reusable gift obscuring packaging, and asking manufacturers to cut down on all of that shelf-minded toy packaging seems somewhat futile.
No, for my money, Thanksgiving is the holiday whose waste is most easily slashed. Because pretty much everything we think of as representative of the day (short of bad football) is compostable. Be it in the backyard or at the curb, a push to ensure people properly handle those unwanted Brussels sprouts seems like it could gain traction.
Of course, Valentine’s Day could be made instantly less wasteful if people just told their loved ones how they felt, rather than buying a card to do so. But try pitching that to your significant other.
So what do you think? How can we make the holidays less wasteful? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.