This Is Plastics: The Holiday Season Depends on Plastics


The Holiday Season Depends on Plastics

Plastics are a holiday staple that make festivities safer, more environmentally friendly, and more affordable.


The holidays bring people from all across the world together – families, friends, and loved ones. And the things we love about the holidays, the lights, holiday displays and scenes, tree lighting ceremonies, and many other community events, are all made possible with the help of plastics. Plastics are a holiday staple that make festivities safer, more environmentally friendly, and more affordable. Not to mention more cheerful and brighter!

Plastic Helps Holiday Lights Shine

Holiday light shows and tree lightings are events that bring communities, families, and friends together during the holidays, and plastics are the invisible elves that ensure everyone is safe. Historically, holiday lights were made with fragile glass components that could easily shatter and cause injury. Now, holiday lights are made using durable polycarbonate plastic, which supports safety as well as the longevity of light strands. With plastic, lights last longer and allow for reuse for several years.

LED lights, an even newer innovation, are made with plastic, too, and use 75% less energy than standard bulbs, and even reduce fire risk because of their low heat conduction properties. Energy efficient LED bulbs are insulated, so they don’t waste energy in lost heat like traditional bulbs, which heat up and become fire risks around flammable holiday decorations or dry tree brush. That means LEDs can be used in-and outdoors without fear of fire. Compared to the 1990’s when plastic was less often used in holiday lighting and decorations, today there are 60% fewer home fires related to holiday décor.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic casing, which wraps and protects light wiring, is also keeping families and communities safe during the holidays by reducing risk of shock or potential fire hazards. Additional plastic components also help ensure that light strands are hung securely. In the past, strands were hung with staples or nails that could pierce the wires and cause shocks and fire risks. But now, plastic holders wrap tightly around light strands, increasing the safety and longevity of strands and supporting reuse of lights for several years. Furthermore, these plastic holders boast suction cup or self-stick backings that are easy to remove and don’t damage buildings, either at home or at community displays.

The holidays are more environmentally sustainable because of plastics

Elaborate neighborhood holiday displays that bring communities together rely on plastic, an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional wood framing, to hold lights, decorations, and holiday displays in place. Plastic framing also makes displays safer and more stable. The power tools that make these displays possible have also improved due to plastics. For example, Stanley Black + Decker’s upcoming Reviva line of power tools, created in partnership with Eastman, is made with 50% recycled plastic, which makes the tools lighter and easier to use. Furthermore, when the tools reach their end of life, they can be recycled through Stanley Black + Decker’s tool and battery recycling program, which is contributing to a robust circular economy for plastic. The line will first be released in Europe.

Artificial Trees are Better for the Environment, and Your Wallet

While light and holiday displays spread cheer in community spaces, trees are often central to family holiday traditions in the home. There are two main factors in the decision to purchase a tree:  environmental impact and cost. While live trees smell great, artificial trees can have a smaller environmental impact and reduce the risk of fire.

Artificial trees are primarily made of PVC plastic, which is a durable and long-lasting material. Spending the one-time cost on an artificial tree can create holiday memories for decades to come, without the environmental impact. Artificial trees, which last up to twenty years, are far more environmentally friendly than the impacts associated with growing live trees for 15 years, chopping them down, and transporting them hundreds of miles, all so that they can die within a matter of weeks and then further impact the environment during disposal. Live trees require over 1 gallon of water per day, over 40 gallons for the whole holiday season, and that’s just once they are cut down. Choosing live trees for just two holiday seasons uses more water than producing a single artificial tree that can be reused for two decades.

While artificial trees made with plastic can be a better environmental option, they are also the better economic choice. The average price of an artificial tree is $104, and can last for up to 20 years, averaging out to an annual cost of just $5. Alternatively, live trees must be purchased every year, with a current average cost of $78. With those prices, artificial trees save consumers over $600 in their average lifespan.

The advent of plastics during the holidays allow lights, trees, and deocrations to be used for years before they need replacement. And even once end-of-life is reached, there are robust recycling programs in place, like electronic recycling for lights, to ensure that no holiday décor is wasted. From holiday lights and trees to displays and power tools, plastics modernizes classic holiday traditions to create holiday magic safer, sustainable and affordable.

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