The holidays are always a merry time full of family, friends, and cheer but lurking not far behind comes an increase in waste and higher bills. These all take a toll on the environment and get repeated across the world year after year! To help you have the most sustainable holiday season, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks to get you started!
There are many benefits towards shopping local! Shopping local means supporting your neighbors and giving back towards your local economy. Buying food locally at farmers markets or co-ops or shopping at holiday arts markets is also a great way to meet people and see where the things you buy actually come from. Eating out or buying products from family-owned businesses are another great way to bring in the holiday cheer and make a great outing idea for the whole family!
Do you prefer to do all your holiday shopping from the comfort of your own home? Then Etsy might be the place for you! Etsy is an online shopping platform that lets you buy homemade art and goods directly from the artist or maker! Gifts can often be personalized which makes them even more special. Etsy even offsets 100% of their carbon emissions from shipping, so you can shop online stress-free about your carbon footprint!
Gift Swap, Secret Santa, or White Elephant
Coming up with gifts for all of your friends and family can take ages and end up costing a lot of money. This year, try arranging a gift swap, secret santa, or white elephant event! Get one super cool locally-made gift and draw names for the order people get to pick out theirs! Better yet, make it a surprise and have people draw a name for the receiver of their gift and have people guess when you exchange them! There are so many ways to make this into a fun holiday tradition with all your favorite people!
Alternative Wrapping Paper
Between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans throw away 25% more trash, and wrapping paper makes up a large portion of that percentage! As it is often laminated with plastic and other non-recyclable materials, typical wrapping paper can’t be recycled but there are many alternative options to cut back on the rolls.
Gifts can be wrapped in magazines, newspapers, butcher paper, brown paper bags, or even fabric! Paint, markers, and any other craft supplies you have lying around the house can turn this into a great afternoon project! The possibilities are endless so don’t be afraid to get creative.
If you really can’t step away from the traditional wrapping paper don’t forget to save the wrapping paper, tissue paper, and ribbons to use next year!
Sustainable Holiday Decorations
Skip buying new plastic tinsel and other single-use holiday decorations this year and opt for some more sustainable options:
- Make edible ornaments with pinecones, nut butter, and seeds to decorate the outside of your house or yard and feed the local wildlife.
- Use the gifts Mother Nature has given us and make ornaments and decorations out of evergreen branches, berries, flowers, pinecones, or herbs. Not only can they make your home smell amazing but once the holiday season is over you can compost them in your yard waste bin!
- Repurpose things around to house to make meaningful decorations perfect for you! Old jewelry, buttons, small stuffed animals or toys, cookie cutters, or memorabilia make great options for decorations you can reuse year after year.
Already have a whole set of holiday decorations? Make sure to keep them in tip-top shape so you can continue using them year after year! Time to retire some? Try repurposing them for something else around the house!
Green Holiday Parties
Holiday parties are a wonderful time full of friends, family, and lots of cheer but the night usually ends with overflowing trash cans and more waste than you know what to do with! Here are a couple different ways you can cut back on the waste but not the cheer!
- Use reusable cups, plates, silverware and utensils instead of single-use options!
- Use recyclable aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap to store leftovers.
- Avoid purchasing individually packaged drinks, and don’t forget to recycle cans and bottles afterwards.
- Try and cook multiple items in the same oven and only run appliances on full loads to save on bills.
The holidays are always stressful and we definitely don’t want to add to that, so if doing all of these options sounds intimidating, pick your favorite! Better yet, grab some friends and family and work together!
Do you want to have a greener holiday season but none of these tips or tricks sparked your interest? Check out these other resources for more ideas!
- Sustainable Holidays – NYS DEC
- Go Green for the Holidays – CDC
- Sustainable Holiday Cheat Sheet – USGBC
- 13 Tips for a Sustainable Season – AASHE
Edited 12/17/19 to include Etsy carbon offsets data.