How to be Sustainable During the Holidays

Posted on 
December 22, 2018
Matthew Wright
Founder & CEO, Specright

The holidays are a time for reflecting on the past year, spending time with family - and of course, presents. While many companies have initiatives to make their packaging more sustainable, consumers can take a few steps this holiday season to limit the environmental impact associated with gift giving.

I asked our packaging experts at Specright for their tips on how to have both a joyous and sustainable holiday.

Reuse Packaging

One of the easiest ways to reduce packaging waste this holiday season is to save boxes and reuse them year after year. So resist the urge to throw away packaging from gifts you receive and look for sturdy boxes that can become part of the holiday rotation. The same goes for materials like ribbons and bows. Other creative uses for cardboard include arts and crafts (think a gingerbread house without having to use gingerbread).

Double Down on Recycling

When I think of quick wins during the holidays, simply recycling wrapping paper is a no-brainer. Don’t forget that other materials such as bubble wrap, envelopes, tissue paper, and others are also recyclable (many residential recycling bins list items, so you can double check). For larger boxes, don’t forget to break them down before you recycle them.

Think Before You Return

While the first two tips are more commonly known, this last one is a huge hidden source of waste during the holidays: returns. Sustainability is more than just packaging - it’s the actions that happen across the supply chain - and returns generate large amounts of waste in terms of restocking, emissions related to transportation, and waste related to restocking or repackaging.

Of course, sometimes this is hard to avoid if a product is damaged and needs to be replaced, but if you received a gift that you like but don’t love (for example, you received a navy sweater when you’re really more of a green person), think twice about how you handle it and you can do a small part.  While these tips may seem simple, they can have a large impact. Happy holidays!


Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright is the founder & CEO of Specright. Prior to founding Specright, he spent more than 25 years in the packaging industry, holding leadership positions at International Paper, Temple Inland, and rightPAQ — a packaging company he co-founded. He has also been involved in leading multiple M&A deals in the packaging industry. He sits on the Packaging Advisory Board at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.

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