XOTV WEEKLY: Celebrating Sustainably

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Everything XOTV

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If there is one thing millennials and generation Z'ers love, it is living waste-free. The holiday season is full of opportunities to pollute the earth from rolls of torn wrapping paper to the miles traveled for the dreaded family gathering. Nonetheless, the holidays are a bright and warm time, global warming that is.
The holidays are a perfect time to consider how to make small changes that have a positive impact on our environment. Small steps can be taken for Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza that leave your family and friends full of holiday spirit and eco-friendly practices.
But why should we care about being green during the cold season? A Stanford University study shows that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s season totaling around 25 million tons of garbage, or 1 million tons per week.
It is scary to think about how much waste is going into landfills during the most wonderful time of the year. Small changes to your holiday routine can be made to make sure that your pollution output is far less than it may once have been. From decorating, cooking, wrapping, and shopping, making conscious decisions to lower your pollution output can easily be made.


Decorating your house can also be done in an environmentally conscious manner. Decorating a real Christmas tree is greener than the alternative of buying an artificial tree since those end up in landfills and are not recyclable. The same goes for wreaths and garlands. Natural decorations can be recycled or composted to lower trash output. You can even rent a Christmas tree for the holidays.
Thanks to the fast-moving pace of learning new ways to recycle materials, string lights can now be sent to Christmas Light Source where you can earn a 10% off code for mailing back in your lights. All of the proceeds are donated to Toys for Tots to buy books, games, and toys. It is a gift that keeps on giving.


So what should happen to the countless containers of leftovers piling in the fridge? This may be hard to believe, but 40% of the food produced in the United States never gets eaten. Now besides the accumulation of waste in our landfills, the uneaten food has also wasted energy being harvested, transported, packages, and stored. A great way to cut back on food waste is being ahead of the problem and creating a composting bin (if you can do so). And hey, that way you and your 25 plants can all have a tasty natural meal. But consider making an eco-friendly choice before you even open the package. Shopping at local co-ops where plastic packaging is seen as almost a sin prevents excessive single-use materials to end up in our oceans. Buying food from the supermarket that can be easily recycled from cardboard is also a greener alternative.

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The New York Department of Environmental Conservation suggests that shopping for tickets to events or experiences is a great way to cut down on waste. There are also great alternatives to wrapping presents that aren’t single-use paper. Some of these options include old fabric, scarves from antique or thrift stores, and reusable bags. Your gifts are sure to look trendy and eco-friendly.
You can also give by giving back: The holidays are a welcomed time to volunteer at food banks, adopt a family through the Salvation Army, or host a canned food drive. This is a great way to spend time with family and friends while also giving back to those in need. 
And now is a perfect time to clean out your closets from unwanted clothes and household goods. Donating unwanted clothing and goods saves several pounds of potential waste. Shopping at thrift stores around town whether it is for a white elephant exchange or a true treasure one has to have makes a wonderful gift the second time around.


Oh, how could I almost forget? Now is the peak time for travel. While COVID-19 has halted this tradition for most people this year, there are still ways to make it home and reduce your carbon footprint while you’re at it. If you are planning to (safely) travel to the slopes for a ski day or a family gathering, try carpooling this time. Let’s face it, gas is expensive, and the emissions only hurt our planet. But carpooling saves gallons and helps save money when you split the cost. Those miles add up, and it can increase your carbon footprint more than you were originally intending. If you’re choosing to fly this season, good luck. Wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer, and make sure to quarantine until you’ve received negative test results. 
So yes, the holidays can be a time of cheer, but also a time of waste. Remember the most wonderful time of the year isn’t just about preparing a large meal with excessive food and multiple trash bags of wrapping paper to pile on the curbside. Give the gift of giving, not just to others, but to our planet.

About the Author:
Arlee Walls

Arlee Walls is a senior at Colorado State University majoring in Journalism and Media Communication with a minor in Information Science and Technology. Aside from writing and creating, Arlee loves to paint, go to concerts, be with friends, and travel. Arlee hopes to one day live in Seattle, Washington working in the journalism industry creating content for others to enjoy.

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Composting is so easy to do. I have a small compost container on my counter. And my family and I walk it put to the backyard bin after dinner each night. It helps to create light, fluffy, nutrient-rich soil for our organic garden and greenhouse all spring and summer. Antoinette Lee Toscano—Producer/Creator of WhitewaterTV on XOTV.


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