The holidays are the season of abundance in love, family, gifts, and food. They’re also the season of over-consumption when traditional preparation comes at a cost for Mother Earth.
Today, we have for you a list of simple, mindful ways to prepare and celebrate the season without having a negative impact on the environment.
1. Turn off the lights / switch to LED
It may be the season of light, but it doesn’t mean we have to overuse our electricity.
Many of us have adorned our houses and holiday trees with lights. Switch your holiday glow off at night when everyone is asleep or when no one’s home. Better yet, connecting your lights to a timer is another great way to reduce your holiday carbon footprint.
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly replacement for your old lights, replace them with LEDs. They have low energy consumption and last much longer than traditional lights. What do you do with your old lights? Look for Christmas light recycling programs near you or online.
2. Real or Artificial? The Great Christmas Debate
Real is the real winner here. Even if artificial trees are reusable, they are usually made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which isn’t recyclable. When artificial trees have reached their life span, they eventually end up in landfills. A real tree is the best option when thinking about the environment, as long as it is properly disposed of after the holidays. You can check here for holiday tree locations near you!
Buying a potted holiday tree is also a great option, because you can replant it in your yard and “reuse” for years to come.
You can also donate a tree for a loved one! Trees improve air quality and are definitely gifts the Earth can appreciate as well. OneTreePlanted makes this as simple as possible. Through them, you can gift one tree for only one dollar, all from the comfort of your home. You can also choose where your tree will be planted.
3. Buy biodegradable plates and utensils.
Holding a big party in your house soon? Before you head over and buy paper plates and disposable cutlery, you may want to check out these biodegradable alternatives to plates and utensils. They’re made from organic bamboo and will compost after four to six weeks.
While you’re at it, you can even purchase reusable straws for the party and give them away as party favors, if you’d like.
4. Buy environmentally friendly food products.
It is without a doubt that food and drinks will be in abundance this month. Chances are you’ve already been shopping for your family dinner or even planning for it. To help the environment, you can opt to buy locally grown produce, free-range meats, and even wine at farmer’s markets if there are any around you.
If you’re going to buy a six-pack of drinks, make sure to look for those that come in biodegradable rings. Plastic rings usually end up in our oceans and fish mistake them for food. Biodegradable ones are made from barley and wheat making it edible and safe for fish and other sea creatures.
5. Turn down the heat.
Did you know that you can save 350kg of CO2 by turning down the thermostat? Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to do anything drastic. You can help reduce CO2 emissions by bringing the heat down by a degree. And with all the cooking being done throughout the holidays, one’s home will be warmer than usual anyway.
6. Recycle everything you can…including food waste.
As the kitchen gets busy with all of the delicious food being cooked, the food waste will likely pile up. These usually end up in the bin, but they can definitely be recycled or reused right away.
For example, you can use the eggshells from making eggnog and baked holiday goods as fertilizer for your plants. Eggshells introduce calcium into the plants and strengthen their cell walls.
7. Wrap your presents creatively.
What’s more iconic than a nicely wrapped present underneath a tree? There’s nothing more exciting than ripping the wrapping paper off to reveal a gift from a loved one. This year, let’s do our best to be mindful and opt for environmentally friendly wrapping paper like these from Green Field that’s printed on with soy-based inks and are made with 100% recycled paper.
Optionally, you can use reusable gift bags, old maps, and even fabric gift wraps. Twine or a ribbon can also minimize one’s use of tape. Using these wrapping paper alternatives, especially the old maps, makes the packaging a part of the gift. It also looks more genuine and artsy.
As you can see, saving the environment during the holiday season requires little effort and often little cost. By doing these, we can all do our part to preserve the environment, no matter the time of year.
While we celebrate with holiday cheer and spread love, let’s keep in mind how the smallest of efforts can make the biggest deal of positive change.