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The holidays are a great time of year. You get to spend time with friends and family, have a few extra days off if you’re lucky, and receive great presents that you look forward to all year. In the midst of all this excitement, many people forget one crucial factor: environmental impact. Along with all of those presents and decorations comes significant waste that impacts our planet all year round. To help lessen the negative effects, let’s look at a few ways to reduce waste this season.

Buy In Stores

The Internet is great for many things, and online shopping has become more convenient than ever. Although it is tempting to purchase all of your presents on sites like Amazon, it can cause extremely negative consequences. First, and most obviously, is the amount of packaging needed to safely deliver items. All of that plastic builds up, and many times, even the cardboard boxes can’t be recycled. On top of that, the emissions from the trucks carrying your packages can cause an increase in smog and a decrease in air quality, which hurts everyone. So, rather than hurting the Earth, try helping it by buying locally. An added bonus: buying in stores helps your local economy.

Use Recyclable Wrapping Paper

We’ve all had that one relative that refused to wrap gifts with anything but newspaper or brown paper bags. While they may have been out to save some money, they were also inadvertently going green! Recyclable wrapping paper is a great alternative to the fancy wrapping paper you see in stores. Although it is not flashy, most people will not bat an eye after hearing your noble explanation. Even better, your good deed can encourage those around you to do the same, further reducing the waste in your area.

Reuse Gift Bags

How often do you receive a gift bag only to throw it away or store it in a closet for years? Now is the time to break out that bin and make good use of someone else’s purchase! Reusing gift bags is a fairly common tradition in families, but you can even do so with friends, at work, or anywhere else you exchange gifts. You can still have a present that is wrapped beautifully in a sustainable bag that can be used for years to come.

Buy Long-Lasting Gifts

Now that you’ve considered where to buy your presents and how to wrap them, it’s important to really consider what you’re buying. Many people buy small trinkets for others, which eventually get thrown away. This causes tons of waste that almost entirely ends up in dumps. Rather than continuing this routine, try buying presents that people really need or will use for a long time (more than a year or two is ideal). The longer the person will have the present, the longer it will take to end up in the dump, which is a big positive.

Exchanging presents is a fun tradition that people partake in all around the world. With so much gift giving happening during this time of year, make sure you are subtracting from the waste, rather than adding to it, by following these tips.