While the holiday season is happy + festive + jolly, it unfortunately brings a lot of waste. Americans spend approximately $3.2 billion/year on wrapping paper, 81% of Americans have a fake tree in their homes, over 4 million Christmas dinners are wasted every year, and the US Christmas lights use more energy than the entire country of El Salvador in a year. While it’s important to enjoy the season, there are plenty of easy ways to be kind to the environment by focusing on sustainability during Christmas. If you haven’t focused on sustainability before, try to start small by doing 3-4 things on this list.
Get a plantable Christmas tree
Instead of buying a fake tree or chopping down a real one, consider buying a plantable tree. After the holidays are over, plant it in your yard or neighborhood. This can turn into a fun tradition with family and friends, and feel good about helping the environment too.
Pick up trash
With wrapping paper, gifts, and tons of food, the holiday season is one of the trashiest (literally) times of the year. Be mindful of the waste your community may be producing and pick up the trash at a local park, around your neighborhood, or on the side of a road.
Join a community garden
If you don’t have one, start one! Since people basically eat their ways through November and December, consider growing your own food. Can foods like corn, beans, tomatoes, and applesauce for the winter months. Growing your own food is a great way to be sustainable over the holiday season!
Limit food waste by composting
Who here loves coming home with yummy leftovers from Christmas parties or get-togethers to carry you through the week. While leftovers are amazing, it can be really easy to forget all about them. To limit food waste, compost your food. If you don’t have a yard, put it in the freezer to keep the smell away. If you have a yard, keep your composter in the backyard and throw out scraps there. Eventually, your old food will turn to dirt and can be used as a perfect fertilizer for a garden!
Give the gift of experiences
Forego giving candles, scarves, and other trinkets that produce waste: instead, give the gift of an experience. A concert, dinner at a fancy restaurant, taking a cooking class, or any fun experience will help create lasting & fun memories rather than waste!
Avoid disposable plates
Life is so much easier when disposable plates are used, especially for Christmas parties or get-togethers. Instead of using disposable plates, cups, and silverware, treat your guests well and use nice china! If you’re planning a work party or large gathering, ask people to bring their own plates and cutlery.
If you do choose to buy presents, try to mostly buy local retail! Online shopping = waste from boxes and wrapping as well as the travel to deliver it. Shop at local businesses that utilize what is in your community!
Choose sustainable materials like a scarf or bandana. Or, recycle by using an old newspaper, grocery bag, cardboard box with a bow, old map, or children’s artwork. If it looks to plain or boring, tie a pine cone or branch to the gift. These can add texture to your gift wrapping and make it look more unique!
Make handcraft or DIY gifts
Instead of buying a gift, make your own! Knit a scarf, hat, or gloves, make cookies, candies, or bread or get creative & make a mug, bath bombs, soap, or your own candles!
Buy LED lights
LED lights are energy saving and (bonus!) cheap. They typically save 90% of energy when compared to normal holiday lights. Make sure to turn off your lights when you’re not home, and if you have trouble forgetting, get a timer to remember for you! Fun fact: Christmas tree lights left on for 10+ hours a day for 12 days produce enough CO2 to fill a balloon.
DIY Holiday decorations
Create decorations using natural foliage like holly branches, berries, pine boughs or cones, poinsettias, or ivy. Use timeless pieces that you already own like gold candlesticks or pine scented candles. Layer with natural pieces to create a beautiful & timeless look without needing to buy more decor.
There are plenty of directions you can go with handmade Christmas cards, like these ideas here. Getting artsy and making your own card isn’t only heartwarming, but it helps avoid additional waste!
How are you going to be kind toward our planet this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!