It’s that time of year again when we deck the halls with our favorite decorations and ornaments, string lights across our homes, and search for the perfect gifts. The holidays are exciting for the whole family, but have you taken the time this year to think about the impact the holidays can have on the environment? With all of the hustle and bustle and rushing around, it can sometimes be easy to forget to be an environmentally conscious consumer.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, Americans throw away 25% more trash, according to CDC data, which means we could be doing a lot more to reduce our waste and make greener choices. So, what are some of the things we can do that will allow us to enjoy the holidays while still being eco-friendly?
Grab a cup of hot cocoa, sit back, and take some mental notes as we give you some tips on how to make greener choices this holiday season.
Gifts That Give Back
Presents aren’t the “real meaning of Christmas” but that doesn’t mean we don’t like giving and receiving them. And the gift buying process is the perfect place to start making greener choices.
Look for gifts that deliver an eco-friendly message, things such as reusable totes, natural home decor, organic beauty products, or even a “plant your own tree” kit. If someone you know is passionate about a cause or organization, you could donate to a charity on behalf of their name.
Homemade gifts are an even greener option especially since you’ll know exactly what materials or ingredients are being used to make them. From homemade cookies and jams to soaps and scarves, there are endless things you can make from scratch – plus homemade gifts come across a lot more personal and thoughtful given the time and energy you will have put into making them.
Once you’ve got all of your gifts and you’re ready to wrap them, stay clear of plastic wrap and bags, ribbons, and wrapping paper that isn’t made from recycled materials. Use reusable materials such as tins, boxes, newspaper, or recycled wrapping paper. If every family in the U.S. used reusable materials to wrap just three presents, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields, according to Stanford.edu. If those families also reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, they would save 38,000 miles of ribbon – enough to tie a bow around the entire planet!
Greener Choices for Decor
The holidays wouldn’t be as festive without all of the sparkly decorations. And it’s not that hard to buy ornaments and knick-knacks that can be reused each year. If you’re shopping for new decor, try decorating with natural materials like wood, burlap, or organic cotton – or you can decorate with pine cones and holly plants. Whichever you choose, just try to avoid single-use items and decor made from plastic.
If you celebrate Christmas, opt for a well-made, artificial tree that will last 15+ years. Artificial trees can be more sustainable if you choose one that is built to last. If you prefer real trees, just make sure that you dispose of it correctly when the holidays are over. One idea is to have it broken down into mulch that can be used in the garden.
There are a myriad of opportunities to make greener choices during the holidays, you just have to put in a little extra effort to make the right ones that will benefit the environment.
Do You Have Any Green Tips?
Have you taken any steps towards having a more sustainable Christmas or holiday celebration? If so, what tips can you offer to help people make greener choices? Please share them with us in the comments section below.