According to Stanford University, Americans will generate 25% more waste than normal between the Thanksgiving and New Year time-frame that boils down to about 25 million tons of extra garbage produced during the holiday season. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s definitely not the most eco-friendly.

How can your retail business help reduce waste and promote sustainability during the holidays?

Check out these four tips from Rubicon:  

1. Encourage reusable bag use

Thanks to Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and other big shopping days, consumers go through mounds of cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, plastic wrap, and another single-use packaging. Don’t let your business contribute to this waste.

Instead, eliminate unnecessary packaging and encourage reusable bag use. You could give customers who bring reusable bags a discount, a coupon, or gift with their purchase. Conversely, your business could give out holiday-themed, branded reusable bags for free or with a purchase.

2. Go for sustainable gift wrap

While wrapping paper, tissue paper, ribbon, and other holiday accessories make a gift look festive, they’re also very wasteful.

According to Stanford University, if each American family reused two feet of ribbon during the holiday season, the ribbon saved could tie a bow around Earth. Plus, if every American family wrapped just three gifts in reused gift wrap, the paper saved could cover 45,000 football fields.

If your business has offered holiday gift wrapping services in years past, it’s time to switch it up. Get creative with your gift wrap. Try using newspaper, magazine pages, cloth, or old maps as wrapping paper and reusable tins and baskets as gift boxes. It’ll make your products more eco-friendly and more unique.

If you choose to include decorative baubles like ribbons or bows in your gift wrapping service, include messaging that encourages your customers (or their gift recipients!) to reuse them. Otherwise, it’s likely that these odds and ends will end up in the trash.

3. Be (ever)green with your decorations

Decorating your retail storefront and interior for the holiday season? You don’t have to do away with tradition. Keep the merry vibe by being thoughtful about how you decorate.

If you typically purchase a live tree, consider the possibility of going the artificial route. Though live trees are compostable, they require a lot of resources to grow. Artificial trees are cost-effective and can be used year after year. This applies to other evergreen garlands and decorations as well. Artificial is the new evergreen!

Think about your string lights as well. Using efficient LED lights uses less energy and will help you save on your electric bill. Don’t forget to turn off the lights when your store is closed.

Overall, invest in holiday decorations that you can reuse year after year. They’ll save you money and help reduce waste in the long run.

4. Sponsor a way for your customers to give back

It’s the season of giving–so why not set up a way for your customers to give back? Your business could sponsor a coat drive, a book drive, a toy drive, or another way to reuse items.

By setting up a donation area in your store, you’re helping the local community and giving a home to gently used items that are taking up space in people’s homes and closets.

You could also partner with nonprofits and donate a portion of your holiday proceeds to organizations that help the environment, the community, or those in need.

‘Tis the season to think twice about your retail store’s impact on the environment. By taking these simple steps during the holiday season, your business will definitely be on the nice list.

For more eco-friendly retail tips you can download our “Retail Holiday Prep for Small Businesses” guide!