Your Guide to an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season
I LIVE for the holiday season. The lights, food, laughter, music, gift giving, and celebration are all things I look forward to each year. And I'm guessing I am not alone when I say my soul needs to celebrate every small joy even more this year than ever before. But how can we live this holiday season to the fullest while still finding ways to honor our environment? It is absolutely possible, trust me.
When it comes to giving sustainable gifts, a huge problem lies in our mindset around shopping and consumption in general. Our consumer driven culture encourages us to “buy, buy, buy” during the holiday season. So much so in fact - it often becomes overwhelming, and we find ourselves buying gifts simply to check a name off of our list rather than making a connection to the recipient. When this happens it’s likely that the recipient will not keep or use the item, and the item will make its way to the landfill. This not only increases the already excessive amounts of garbage in the landfill, it’s a huge waste of money!
I encourage you to read this blog for some helpful tips about how you can shift your mindset and in turn, become a more eco-friendly gift giver!
- Consider gifting experiences.
- Create gift sets out of eco-friendly versions of everyday essentials. They make cute gifts, and they’ll actually get used!
- Make a donation in honor of a loved one.
- Are you crafty? Consider DIY gifts for your loved ones.
- Give gift cards, or better yet - DIGITAL (no plastic!) gift cards!
Choose alternative gift wrap. Traditional gift wrap is a single-use product, and a majority of wrapping paper on the market is not recyclable. Reusable gift bags and wrap enhance the gifts you give, because they become a gift themselves! Kraft paper, newspaper, with twine and dried flowers or fruit to adorn the paper make for a stunning presentation. (P.S. Sliced oranges are GORGEOUS!)
Choose natural candles. Ditch petroleum-based candles, and opt for 100% natural and plant-based candles that use premium soy, coconut, or beeswax. Avoid candles that use “fragrance,” choosing candle and incense that use pure essential oils instead. They are not only more eco-friendly, they are significantly healthier for you and your family.
Focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to selecting both decorations and gifts this holiday season. Relinquish a disposable mindset and invest in items that are made to last.
Embrace your Holiday style. Before you purchase holiday decorations, ask yourself, “can I envision using this item year after year?” If you have to think too hard about it or it’s a hard no, leave it on the shelf so it doesn’t end up in the landfill next year.
Choose LED lights to set the mood for your twinkle lights, illuminated figures, and flameless candles.
Real or artificial tree - which is the more sustainable option? Well, it depends. If you’re not interested in a long-term commitment, a real tree is going to be the more sustainable option. Buy from a local farm to reduce the carbon footprint caused by transport. You may also consider a container tree that can be re-planted!
If you can envision using an artificial tree for 10+ years, this could be the best option for you. Better yet, buy a second-hand artificial tree! My first Christmas tree was handed down to me from my mother who purchased it for her first apartment in 1981. My family and I still use this little tree in our basement, and it gave me the confidence to be sure we’d use a larger artificial tree upstairs for many years to come.
Limit food waste over the Holiday season by planning dishes you can portion and freeze. Additionally, plan leftovers into your week following the big meal to ensure they actually get eaten instead of getting lost in the back of the refrigerator.
Buy locally and organically if possible. Your local Food Co-Op and farmers markets will have an amazing selection of locally produced meat products, produce, and baked goods available at typically very reasonable prices.
Ditch disposable dinnerware. I know, I know, no one loves doing the dishes. Consider cranking your favorite Christmas tunes and lighting a festive candle mentioned above to make doing the dishes fun. You’ll create less waste AND save money in the long run.
Above all, remember that sustainability isn’t black and white - there’s A LOT of grey. Make the best decisions for YOU as you’re able to make them. Choice is a privilege that isn’t always available to us all of the time. Small changes do matter friend!