MONTVILLE, NJ – Between the non-recyclable shiny wrapping paper, polyester ribbon, and all the packaging waste, the holidays are particularly harsh on the environment. Considering that the impacts of climate change are already affecting New Jersey, it’s important to think about the environment while planning for the holidays. Luckily, there are ways to enjoy the holiday season without hurting the planet. Here are some simple ways to be more eco-friendly during this holiday season, plus a list of eco-friendly gifts for your loved ones!

Use a reusable mug while getting your favorite holiday drinks. This will reduce your BPA exposure as well, since paper cups are lined with plastic, which shouldn’t be touching hot liquid.

Buy fewer gifts for the kids in the family. Overconsumption is one of the biggest problems facing the planet, and your children will likely value experience gifts more than physical gifts anyways.

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Do a secret santa with family so each person buys one gift. This will likely reduce the stress that can often come with buying so many gifts for everyone you know.

For wrapping gifts, buy very simple wrapping paper that doesn’t have any shiny parts. Or use newspaper. Or reuse old gift bags that you may already own.

For decor, shop at secondhand stores like Good Will (Fairfield), Once & Again (Montville) and Willing Hearts (Caldwell). They usually have a great selection, for a fraction of the price.

Buy experiences instead of physical gifts. Consider gifts like tickets to a show, cooking classes, art classes, sports lessons, or a spa certificate.

Instead of a physical gift, consider donating to a charity that’s important to the recipient, and then include a meaningful card like “Top 5 memories with you” or “5 reasons I love being your friend.”

If you want to get a physical gift, getting one made from recycled materials is the most eco-friendly way to do it. If there is no market for recycled goods, then recycling our trash is pointless anyways. So here are some suggestions in order of price. And if you don’t see anything you like, just use Google to find other gifts made from recycled materials!

Solmate Socks: Very warm and cozy socks colorful socks made from recycled cotton. $20. https://solmatesocks.com/

SpringBok puzzles: Made from 100% recycled cardboard. https://www.springbok-puzzles.com/

Silver Falls Sustainability Co: Zero waste skin/hair care gifts. $15-$50. https://www.sfsustainable.com/

Uncommon Goods Recycled Collection: Fun home items. $20-$60 https://www.uncommongoods.com/gifts/collections/recycled-gifts

Green Toys: Huge assortment of non-toxic baby and kid toys made from recycled milk cartons. $15-$80. https://www.greentoys.com/

Manduka recycled wool blanket: $44. https://www.manduka.com/products/recycled-wool-blanket

Everlane Renew Collection: Clothing made from recycled materials. $50-200. https://www.everlane.com/collections/womens-renew

Patagonia ReCrafted Collection: Bags, jackets, clothing. $50-$300. https://wornwear.patagonia.com/recrafted

Patagonia Recycled Polyester Collection: Kids & Adults clothing and accessories. $35-$200. https://www.patagonia.com/shop/recycled-polyester-clothing

Opus Mind: Beautiful handbags made from recycled and scrap leather. $150-$200. https://opusmind.com/

Sea Bags: Bright and colorful waterproof totes made from upcycled old sails. $75-$200. https://seabags.com/

Gap Upcycled Puffer Jacket for women: $168. https://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=519479 

Rothy’s Shoes: Made from plastic bottles. $125-$200. https://rothys.com/

For more suggestions on how to live more eco-friendly, you can follow Zero Waste in Montville on Facebook or Instagram. Montville Environmental Commission member Bansari Shah routinely posts tips on how to use the resources around town to live a more green lifestyle.

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