One of the most difficult times of year to be sustainable is coming up, but there are several ways you can “green up” your holiday celebrations. With long-distance travel, large meals, presents, and decorations, it’s very easy to undo much of what you’ve tried to maintain throughout the rest of the year. But it’s not impossible!
- Normalize re-gifting! If you receive an item that you’re not crazy about, set it aside as a future gift for someone else! This is a great way to reduce your consumption and reuse items you already have.
- Provide experiences rather than giving physical gifts. Have you always wanted to hit up the art museum for a cool exhibit? What about taking the kids to a wildlife refuge that’s within driving distance? Experiences make for great presents!
- Wrap your presents in gently used wrapping paper, recyclable paper, or fabric. Presents can look beautiful even if they’re in last season’s paper! Or you can adopt the Japanese method of furoshiki, allowing your recipients to reuse their cloth sacks around the house.
- Use more sustainable candles made from beeswax. If your holiday traditions involve candles, be on the lookout for beeswax candles or those that are clean burning.
- Buy a real tree and then recycle it afterward! If your holiday traditions include a decorated tree, purchase one that is real – the artificial ones are less sustainable (and they don’t smell as good either)! And check with your city or county to see if you can recycle your tree once you’re finished with it. If you purchase a smaller containerized tree, you can even plant it in your backyard once the season is over, which is greatly beneficial for the air around you and the soil!
- Use energy-efficient LED lights around the house. LED lights are much more sustainable than traditional lights and have the added benefit of lasting much longer, too! Or find other ways to cheer up your home with leftover ribbon, fabric, or homemade decorations.
- Traveling long distance? Consider purchasing carbon offsets. Sometimes you need to travel by air to see your loved ones, so you can always look into purchasing carbon offsets.
- Have a locally-sourced meal with less waste. Check out your local farms and vendors to see where you can buy ingredients for your celebratory meals. And skip the paper plates and plasticware in favor of real dishes, creating less waste at the end of the night.
- Speaking of less food waste … Save more than just the leftovers! Turkey carcasses, veggie scraps, and herbs can be turned into a rich soup stock, latkes can be reheated, and day old dinner rolls can become a French toast casserole or croutons. Look for ways to utilize all the ingredients in your kitchen purposefully.
- Recycle your packing peanuts! You can always drop by your local UPS store or local mail and ship and return your packing peanuts and air-filled plastic bubbles for them to reuse in future shipments. That keeps them out of the trash and landfills.
This holiday season, look for small ways that you can celebrate a little greener!