How to Spread Holiday Cheer Without the Waste Pt. 4: Travel & Shopping

holiday bike


By Malyce Collins

This is the last part of our series on reducing holiday waste. This post focuses on traveling and shopping. Also check out P. 1, Pt. 2, and Pt. 3. 


1. Offset your holiday travel 

Whether flying or driving, holiday traveling equates to a great deal of carbon emissions. Carbon offsets allow individuals to balance out their travel-generated pollution by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation. There are a number of companies that offer carbon offsetting, such as Terrapass, and CarbonFund. And these organizations often offer carbon offsetting for both driving and flying. 

2. Carpool, take public transportation, or walk/bike when visiting friends and family 

If you live nearby family and friends, walk or bike to visit them. Burn off some calories before (or after) the holiday feasting! Or, if they’re a bit too far for biking or walking, then carpool with others. Each method saves you money, as you won’t be spending it on gas. 


1. use Reusable shopping bags

Of course, this is far from a holiday-specific manner by which to reduce waste, but it is still important to remember that no matter what store you go into or what you’re buying, whether it’s electronics, toys, or clothing, you can choose reusable bags over those flimsy, single-use plastic ones. Plus, if you’re concerned about your typical grocery shopping bags not being large enough, then you can always use larger bags around your home, purchase larger bags for really cheap at a thrift store, or get large bags at a retail store. 

2. Combine several trips into one, carpool, and/or use public transportation 

Instead of making trip after trip after trip to get groceries, buy gifts, and get supplies, take a moment to sit down and make a list of everything you need. Then, go out and get everything in one outing. Better yet, carpool with friends or family who also need to go shopping, or take public transportation to and from your destinations. Not only does this save you money on gas, a little planning also saves you time from making so many trips. 

3. Buy in bulk

Throwing a holiday party or having a lot of family over? That probably means a lot of food. Reduce your waste production and save some money by buying in bulk. Buying in bulk can mean bringing your own containers and filling it with all the nuts you need for that giant trail mix snack and/or going to stores such as Sam’s Club and Costco to purchase the extra large, two pack containers of eggnog. 

There are so many ways, even more than what has been mentioned in this article, to reduce waste this holiday season, and many of these methods can be carried into everyday life, too. Just remember that even though this list may seem overwhelming, you don’t have to do it all. Take it little by little. Simply choose one to three goals you want to achieve, goals that are within your means, and focus on that. And your goals don’t even have to be entirely complete. For instance, say your goal is to replace traditional lights with LEDs, but you don’t have the money to replace all of them. That’s OKAY. Just replace what you can. Every action makes a difference.


We hope you enjoyed our holiday series. There are so many ways to reduce waste this holiday season, and many of these methods can be carried into everyday life too! Keep in mind, you don’t have to do it all. Take it little by little. Every action makes a difference!


Resources and references used in this series: