The holiday season has come and gone, but part of our Christmas decorations will be here forever — or at least for the next 1,000 years. Millions of candles are heading to the landfill this January, and when it comes to holiday waste, candles are some of the worst offenders, according to a new report from business waste management service Business Waste.
The popularity of candles is soaring. Not only were they on-trend for holiday gifting, but the Scandinavian trend of “hygge” is also playing a big part in the candle obsession. The Danish term that means “creating a warm atmosphere” has become a lifestyle goal for many and often includes luxurious blankets and glowing candles.
But the environmental impact of this big increase in candle sales can’t be underestimated. The plastic holders for popular tea light candles and the plastic wrap that many candles are packaged in wreak havoc on the environment, because most people aren’t recycling. Instead, the plastic casings and packaging (or the glass and metal casings) are ending up in landfills for up to 1,000 years.
Household recycling is on the rise, but most people are focusing on food packaging, so things like candles are still ending up in the landfill.
“As relaxing as a candle-lit room in the depths of winter can seem, households need to be aware that their choices as consumers have a direct impact on the environment,” said Mark Hall, communications director at Business Waste. “We see novelty candles flood the shelves throughout the run-up to Christmas, and while they make a nice, cheap gift, their long term impact is just not worth the brief enjoyment they bring.”
In addition to the poor recycling rates of the packaging, most candles also have paraffin, which is a by-product of petroleum. When you burn these candles, it releases carbon dioxide. If you do choose to burn candles throughout the year, there are beeswax and soy alternatives which are much more eco-friendly. Aim to avoid plastic packaging, and properly recycle or reuse glass or metal components.
Image via Pitsch