Your Guide to Having a Sustainable Holiday Season
The holidays are a time of joy, celebration and giving. However, it’s also a season known for having a significant environmental impact. From excessive waste to increased energy consumption, the festivities can take a toll on our planet. This year, make a conscious effort to have a more sustainable holiday season. Here’s your guide to making eco-friendly choices that will spread cheer and contribute to a healthier environment.
Why Is It Important to Be More Sustainable This Festive Season?
During the holidays, it’s crucial to reflect on the environmental impact of your festivities. The surge in consumerism at this time of year often leads to overconsumption, generating excessive waste and placing a strain on our planet’s resources. This year, experts expect record levels of spending, largely due to the convenience of online shopping.
The vast amounts of wrapping paper, plastic packaging, food and discarded decorations contribute significantly to landfills and environmental degradation. By embracing a more sustainable approach, you can reduce your carbon footprint and mitigate the negative consequences of overconsumption.
Get a Real Tree
Believe it or not, live Christmas trees are actually the more sustainable option. You would have to keep your artificial tree for at least 10 years to have the same carbon impact as a living tree. While artificial trees may seem like a convenient option, manufacturers often make them out of non-biodegradable materials, like plastic, and they can contribute to environmental harm during production and disposal.
Americans purchase between 25-30 million real Christmas trees each year, with many ending up in landfills. Choosing a real Christmas tree from a sustainable source, and replanting or recycling it afterward, is a more eco-friendly option. Look for local tree farms prioritizing sustainable practices.
The holiday season typically revolves around feasting with family and friends. Choose locally sourced, organic and seasonal ingredients for your meals. This choice supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting food over long distances.
Consider purchasing gifts, decorations, wrapping paper and festive foods from local artisans and farmers. While you contribute to a more sustainable economy, you’ll also find unique and thoughtful presents.
Give Sustainable Gifts
When choosing gifts, opt for items that are environmentally friendly and ethically produced. Consider giving experiences, like concert tickets, spa days or cooking classes, which create memories rather than clutter. Alternatively, choose gifts made from recycled or upcycled materials, or support companies that prioritize sustainability in their production processes.
You can also visit your local second-hand stores, vintage shops or thrift stores to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts, giving unwanted pieces a new life. Shopping second-hand is also a fantastic way to save money.
Additionally, consider making a donation to a charitable cause in someone’s name instead of giving physical gifts. Choose organizations aligned with the recipient’s values and make a positive impact on the world. This thoughtful gesture reduces material consumption, but also spreads the spirit of giving to those in need.
Bring Reusable Containers for Leftovers
The holiday season often means indulging in delicious meals and leftovers. Instead of using disposable containers, bring your own reusable containers to family gatherings and parties. This simple step can significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic and food waste generated during the festivities.
Consider Meatless Options
Animal-based foods are the largest contributor of greenhouse gases globally. Reducing meat consumption has a positive impact on the environment. Consider incorporating more plant-based dishes in your holiday meals. Not only are plant-based items often healthier, but they have a much lower carbon footprint compared to meat production.
Get creative with recipes that highlight the delicious flavors of fruits and vegetables. Here are some veggie options to get you started:
- Mushroom Wellington
- Vegan gravy
- Tofu “ham”
- Lentil loaf
- Vegan Christmas cake
- Roasted potatoes
- Crispy Brussels sprouts
- Maple-glazed carrots
- Nut roast
- Vegan pigs in blankets
Switch to LED Christmas Lights
During Christmastime, electricity consumption rises by 30% because of all the lights and decorations. Lighting up your home with festive decorations is a holiday tradition, but traditional incandescent lights consume more energy and have a shorter life span. Switch to energy-efficient LED lights to reduce your electricity consumption. These lights are more environmentally friendly, but also safer and longer-lasting.
Additionally, if you live in a warmer or sunnier climate, use solar-powered lights for the outside of your house. Solar-powered lights are a lot more convenient as you don’t need to strategically place them near an outlet.
You can also consider downsizing your house, as a smaller place requires less energy and maintenance. Homeowners typically spend around 1%-4% of the total cost of their home on annual maintenance. With a smaller home, you’ll save on maintenance costs. That’s money you can spend elsewhere, like on traveling or savings.
Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is a major issue during the holidays. Household waste increases by 25% during the festive season, the majority of this being leftovers. Plan your meal carefully, taking into account the number of guests and their preferences, cooking only what you need.
Use leftovers creatively in new recipes, like salads or sandwiches, or donate excess food to local charities. Composting is another excellent way to dispose of food scraps responsibly.
Use Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper
One of the most significant contributors to waste during the holiday season is wrapping paper. Opt for reusable gift wraps, such as fabric gift bags or even scarves, which can be part of the gift itself. Alternatively, find eco-friendly alternatives like recycled paper, brown paper bags, old maps or even newspapers. Another great tip is to keep any reusable gift bags you receive and use them again next year.
If you do plan to travel during the holidays, consider eco-friendly transportation options. Carpooling, public transport or electric or hybrid vehicles are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, explore ways to offset your travel emissions by supporting carbon offset programs.
Spread sustainable Holiday Cheer
This holiday season, let’s celebrate in a way that’s kind to our loved ones and the planet. By making a few eco-friendly swaps, you can contribute to a greener and more sustainable holiday season. You can create lasting memories while caring for the Earth and setting a positive example for future celebrations.