By: Amanda Laverty, Sea Grant Knauss Fellow for the NOAA Marine Debris Program
The ocean remains one of the most expansive and diverse places on Earth. Sadly, marine debris continues to threaten this sensitive ecosystem, with a lack of waste management infrastructure around the world and expanding populations heightening the problem. Here at the NOAA Marine Debris Program, we are showing our love for the ocean this holiday season by celebrating with less waste and more marine debris prevention! We hope you will join us by considering how you might apply some of these ideas and tips to reduce your holiday footprint this year.
Gift Giving: Opt for memories over items! Give shared experiences and gifts that are meant to last. Plan a trip or a special event for your loved ones where you can enjoy valuable time together. If you prefer more traditional gifts, consider meaningful, lasting ones such as hand-crafted items or reusable alternatives to single-use items. To be the gift-giving champion, think about “wrapping” a gift within another gift, such as a gift wrapped in a nice new scarf or a present tucked in a brand new bag.
Wrapping: Gift giving is rarely the same without a bit of surprise, but luckily wrapping paper is not the only way to go. Reusable fabrics, old papers and bags, outdated maps, boxes, planting pots, or jars can all serve as great alternatives to purchasing wrapping paper and generating excess waste. Reduction can also come in the form of ‘treasure hunts.’ A particularly fun alternative with children, consider hiding gifts and giving your loved ones clues to find them.
Decorating: Make decorations and ornaments out of natural or edible items and consider leaving tinsel off your Christmas tree. Tinsel is very difficult to remove and will make your tree unacceptable for recycling. Outdoor light strands can often break and become useless over time, so make sure that the ones you buy are wired so that if one bulb goes bad, the others still work. Holiday lights can also be put on timers for energy savings and peace of mind while you’re away.
Consuming: The holidays are a special time of year to spend with the people that we care most about, so celebrate by taking out your nice serving dishes and silverware and skipping the disposable items.
There are lots of ways to keep your footprint small this holiday season! Tis the season to spread joy and love to all, so remember to do your part to show our ocean some love this holiday season.
Happy holidays from the NOAA Marine Debris Program!