4 Simple Ways to Make Your Holiday More Eco-Conscious
It’s time to break out the sweaters and decorations because the winter holidays are just around the corner. Christmas and all the winter holidays are many peoples’ favorite times of the year. It’s an opportunity to celebrate with loved ones and exchange gifts with each other. However, a number of the holiday traditions we hold dear can have serious repercussions for the environment. The increased traveling, gift buying and decorating all have the potential to generate energy waste and physical waste. Fortunately, people have been innovating environmentally conscious ways to celebrate the winter holidays. Show your thanks to the planet this year by following some of our tips on how to make your holidays more eco-conscious.
1. Eco-friendly Gifts & Wrapping
Gift giving is one of the most common winter traditions people engage in. Unfortunately, it is also one of the largest contributors to waste during the winter holidays. This is because many people don’t consider the amount of resources needed to give a single gift. The production of the gift, the delivery of the gift, the packaging used to protect the gift and the wrapping paper used to conceal it all have a negative impact on the environment. Multiply the resources used in this single example by millions of gift-giving people and the issue becomes clear.
The first step to sustainable gift-giving is to analyze the products you are purchasing as gifts. Take a moment to do some quick research on the company you’re considering buying from. Ensure they create their products in an environmentally sustainable manner. Buying sustainable products is one of the most impactful ways to keep gift giving green. You should also consider selecting sustainable shipping options at checkout, if the company makes them available. Doing so will lower the environmental impact of having the gift delivered.
The wrapping paper we use to keep our loved ones from seeing their gifts too early is a major contributor to physical waste during the winter holidays. Wrapping paper isn’t always sustainably sourced and is difficult to reuse. Many families end up buying more wrapping paper every year, compounding the physical waste issue. But if you get a little creative, there are ways to conceal our gifts sustainably. Newspaper is a great wrapping paper alternative because it is recyclable, widely available and fairly inexpensive. Consider using the comics section of the newspaper to keep it fun for kids. You could also keep the gift in the packaging of another product to keep the gift’s true identity a secret.
2. Keep Holiday Cuisine Local
Sharing good food with loved ones is a major part of the winter holidays. Many people turn to large grocery store chains to find everything they need to prepare a huge holiday meal. This might be the most convenient option, but if you aren’t careful it could also be the most damaging to the planet. This is because the food products many major grocery stores carry are internationally sourced. Internationally sourced foods are major contributors to harmful emissions and energy waste because they need to be transported. Instead of buying your Christmas dinner supplies from a large grocery chain, consider buying ingredients from local businesses. Purchasing groceries from local farmers and butchers ensures your meal is eco-friendly. And as an added bonus, you’ll be supporting local businesses in your community.
3. Be Green When Traveling
For many of us, the winter holidays include a lot of traveling. Some people will travel hundreds of miles to visit family and loved ones we don’t get to visit often. Others will take a vacation to somewhere they’ve never been to enjoy some time away from work. But wherever you might be traveling this holiday season, remember the decisions you make while away from home still have an environmental impact. Be sure to take the environment into consideration when you’re planning your winter trip.
The most important factor of your trip to consider is the way you choose to travel this winter. Buying an airplane ticket might be the most convenient option, but it is also very taxing on the environment. Try to avoid flying to make your winter vacation more eco-friendly. Book local accommodations whenever you reach your destination. Choosing locally owned accommodations supports the local community by adding money to the local economy.
4. Artificial Trees vs. Live Trees
Many environmentally conscious people wonder which kind of tree is the greenest way to celebrate the winter holidays. The two kinds of Christmas trees in question are live trees and artificial trees. Generally speaking, live holiday trees will be the more environmentally friendly option assuming you don’t already own an artificial tree. Artificial trees might last for years and years, but they’re incredibly harmful to the environment to produce. Many of them are made from non-renewable plastic materials that take years to decompose after they’re thrown away. Some people estimate to offset the environmental impact of producing an artificial tree, you would have to reuse that tree for roughly a decade. So consider purchasing a potted tree if you don’t already own an artificial tree.
Live trees also come with some awesome side benefits for you and the environment. Potted trees can be replanted most of the time, and even in situations where they aren’t, they can be recycled or composted. This makes them an incredibly eco-friendly option to celebrate the winter holidays. Additionally, live trees will bring a natural winter-time smell to your home an artificial tree never will.