Simplify the holidays

Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, American households generate 25 percent more waste than usual — enough to fill 140,000 garbage trucks every week of the holiday season. And it’s not just the extra trash that’s a problem. All the fossil fuels, trees, and other natural resources that go into producing unnecessary plastic toys, novelty gifts and wrapping paper make the winter holidays dreary for wildlife and the habitat they need to survive.  

According to a national survey, more than 3 in 4 Americans wish that holidays were less materialistic. Nearly 9 in 10 believe that holidays should be more about family and caring for others, and less about giving and receiving gifts. Yet the average American plans to spend more than $1,047 on holiday shopping this year. We’ve been sold on the idea that the holidays are all about gifts — the more, the better — and wildlife is paying the price.

Simplify the Holidays challenges people to question the mindless drive to shop and refocus the season on what really matters to you and your family. Simplifying the holidays doesn’t mean you have to stop giving your loved ones gifts. It’s about seeking meaningful, wildlife-friendly alternatives. And often these alternatives are more memorable, unique and economical than mass-produced items found in big box stores.

This year we've come up with a few popular gift categories to help you find great experiential gifts at a low environmental cost. Post and share the graphics below with #simplifytheholidays to help spread holiday cheer and help your friends and family simplify the holidays this season!






Before you start your holiday shopping, consider one of these options:

  • Handmade gifts: Create a photo album, knit a cozy scarf or support local artists by visiting holiday craft fairs.
  • Secondhand gifts: Thrift shops and antique stores are full of unique items, or maybe it’s time to pass down the clothes and toys your kids have outgrown.
  • Edible gifts: Bake cookies, cook your favorite comfort food, or treat your loved ones to that special bottle of organic wine.
  • The gift of time: Offer babysitting or dog-walking services, plan a movie marathon, or spend an evening cooking a special meal together.
  • Charitable gifts: Make a donation to your favorite nonprofit in honor of your loved ones. (Here’s where you can donate to the Center.)
  • Experiential gifts: An experience doesn’t have to be a big trip: Give the gift of a museum or National Park membership, cooking or art classes, or plan a special day enjoying your favorite outdoor spot or being a tourist in your own city.


Read more about how to help wildlife by simplifying your holidays:

Banner photo collage credits: Development courtesy Flickr/Capt' Gorgeous; hiking child courtesy Flickr/Trevor Manternach