Did you know that American households generate 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Years? That’s not a great number, but luckily, it’s one we can work to improve.

The holidays are filled with choices; what to buy your aunt who’s got everything, what food to serve at your celebratory feast, what decorations to make your home feel festive. All of these choices can have a positive impact your community and the environment. We’re here to help you make the right ones. At Salesforce, we are dedicated to promoting and celebrating environmental responsibility inside our offices and outside in our communities. As a member of our Sustainability team, I'm passionate about helping every person in the Ohana, our extended Salesforce family, live green during the holiday season and all year long.

Here are four easy tips to help you navigate the holidays in ways that protect our planet.

1. Choose decorations that can live on past January 1.

Sustainability is about maximizing the lifespan of our limited natural resources. The holidays can be a time of excess, so choose decorations that you’ll love and use year over year. Be creative and see what household items you have lying around that could be re-purposed and given a new life. Pick LED lights to brighten your home to save energy and money. Consider decorating a potted tree that you can continue to keep in your home or yard all year long. And look into other sustainable tree options, such as rentals and proper disposal, in your area.

2. Buy local and organic food.

Not only is buying local and organic food more environmentally friendly (you avoid transportation emissions and support local economies), but it’s better for you, too. The quality of food is higher, making those holiday meals all the more delicious and nutritious. So turn grocery shopping into an event and visit your local farmers market. If you can’t buy everything organic, here’s a list of foods to prioritize. And after those meals are over? Scrape food off your plate without using water to rinse, then load up your dishwasher – you’ll save up to 10 gallons of water in just one day.

3. Wear your coat from last season.

Regardless of whether you’re bundling up or hitting the beach, the clothing you invest in is important. It takes more than 700 gallons of water to make just one cotton t-shirt. Not only is the retail industry resource-intensive, but it relies on over 40 million workers who may not have proper working conditions and lack basic rights and protections. There are so many people in need, so let’s not let our valuable materials go to waste. Donate clothes you no longer wear, buy quality items you know will have a long life, and only purchase new clothing that you really need. For more info, check out this post about the importance of conscious fashion.

4. Prioritize experiences, not things.

Give meaningful gifts that will be remembered, not thrown away or never used. In ten years, you may not remember the sweater that your sister bought for you, but you will remember the amazing concert you went to together. If do choose to give a tangible gift, try choosing a gift that makes the planet cleaner, a family healthier, someone happier. You can also make the wrapping part of the gift – use a pretty cloth or towel that can be reused. Reusable gift bags are also a great alternative to traditional wrapping paper, plus they look great!

No matter what, as you go about your holiday season, try to keep the Earth in mind and try to make choices that help protect our planet. After all, it’s the only one we’ve got!

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