Friday, November 5, 2021

Making the Holiday Season a Little Greener: 15 Eco-Friendly Tips

Photo by Luna Lovegood from Pexels

The upcoming holiday season is different from any other. After so many months of social distancing measures, travel bans, various lockdowns, and quarantine measures, we finally start returning to normality. And, what better months of the year are there to show your loved ones how much you missed them than the holiday season?

However, in an era of economic uncertainty and on the verge of a climate crisis, there are some aspects that must not be forgotten - not even during the upcoming holiday season! The average American tends to spend nearly one thousand dollars just on gifts during the holiday season, without the added expenses of parties, decorations, and food shopping. This spending culture is also fuelled by the drastic sales and discounts you can find online and in-store. 

But such a high cost does not only affect your wallet! In fact, during the holiday season, 1 million additional tons of waste end up in landfills each year. In the sections below, you can find a few tips that can help you keep the cost of the holiday season low for your wallet and the environment! 

Support Local Businesses

There is no doubt that the easiest way to ensure that you find the right present, at the right cost, and at the right time is to buy them on online marketplaces. While some are just the e-commerce version of your local shop, some others are international platforms that severely harm the local economy and the environment. 

By shopping on these e-commerce marketplaces, you might be taking away a significant part of a local store’s business. Buying presents from a local business, instead, allows supporting small enterprises and the local economy while reducing the carbon footprint involved with international shopping. 

Opt for a DIY Present

We all prefer to spend the least amount possible shopping for Christmas presents so that we can make the most of special moments with our loved ones. Nonetheless, fast fashion and online shopping can be extremely harmful to the environment. 

Aside from the fact that some of the gifts you buy might end up in landfills, each item produced requires water, energy, and labor. So, instead of opting for the cheapest version of a certain item, consider creating something yourself. Whether you love to create knitted jumpers, practice crochet, enjoy wood whittling, or love crafting jewelry, your loved ones will love something made specifically for them!

Rethink Your Wrapping Paper

Over 8 thousand tons of wrapping paper - the equivalent of 50,000 trees - is sent to landfills each year during the holiday season. While there is nothing more magical than a gift wrapped in glimmering wrapping paper, you can find more sustainable alternatives. 

For example, you might consider recycled paper types, fabric, or even newspaper pages to wrap your presents. All you need to create a beautiful package is a little imagination and basic DIY skills. 

Shop at Second-Hand Markets

If you are not a DIY expert but you still would like to give your loved ones a one-of-a-kind present, head to a second-hand or vintage market. While it might take you longer to find the perfect present, these markets allow you to increase the lifespan of an object that has already been produced and distributed. 

And remember that fashion and design is often circular, so most antique items perfectly fit in modern homes!

Make Sure Your Gifts Are Practical

In the frenzy of getting a Christmas present for everyone in the family and in your group of friends, it is easy to fall into the trap of buying useless items. And, it does not come as a surprise that the majority of these items end up in landfills after being used just once. 

So, instead of opting for just another item to wrap for your friends, start thinking outside the box. For example, houseplants, flowers, and books are great alternatives that can make your loved ones smile without harming the environment so much.

Photo by Lucie Liz from Pexels

Opt for Plant-Based Holiday Foods

One of the best things about the holiday season? The food! And no matter where you are from, the chances are that there are some traditional dishes that you just can’t wait to enjoy. And, while food is at the center of most social activities during the holiday season, it is important to keep in mind that what we eat impacts the planet on many levels. 

If you are looking to make your Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner more sustainable, consider shopping for local produce, investing in seasonal ingredients, and turning some of the best traditional dishes into their plant-based version!

Reduce Waste

Reducing household waste is important all year round but recent statistics tell us that this is particularly important during the holiday season. In fact, on average, household waste increases by 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. 

Household waste is composed of many factors and includes food, drinks, packaging, single-use items, and much more. Since during the holiday season we tend to consume more, it is normal that the household waste increases. Nonetheless, it is important not to normalize this increase and strive towards cutting waste. 

Turn a Garden Plant Into a Live Christmas Tree

Just in the US, over 15 million trees are cut down every holiday season, which, in this era of climate crisis, translates into billions of additional carbon emissions. While the Christmas tree is, for many, a central tradition of the holiday season, it is essential to find more eco-friendly alternatives - especially in a moment when we desperately need to plant trees instead of cutting them down!

Some alternatives include decorating your garden plants, borrowing a tree, or investing in a potted Christmas tree. 

Repurpose an Older Outfit

The holiday season is also the season of parties, dinners, brunches, and events. While you should not miss out on seeing your dearest friends and family members, you certainly don’t need a new outfit for every occasion! 

Instead, this year, consider repurposing outfits that you have already used in the past. Aside from looking stunning, saving money, and skipping long and stressful shopping trips, you will be doing something amazing for the environment - a win-win!

Gift Experiences

It is normal to feel that the Covid-19 pandemic has stolen important times in our lives. And, now that vaccine rollouts and social distancing measures are offering positive results, it might be the best time to make up for the time lost. How can you do so? 

There are plenty of alternatives if you wish to give experiences instead of items to your loved ones. For example, you might consider going together for hikes or walks, book a nearby camping holiday, or meet at an event.

Photo by Boris Pavlikovsky from Pexels

Repurpose or Borrow Decorations

There is nothing like decorating your home to create a festive atmosphere. However, seasonal decorations, just like fast fashion, are quickly used and thrown away. While you might have found a new theme that you would like to try or lighting that would make your garden even prettier, you should consider that decorations can significantly harm the environment. 

Instead, you might consider borrowing or exchanging decorations with your friends or neighbors - or repurpose decorations that you have been using in the past!

Volunteer at a Local Association

One of the best gifts that you can give yourself and your family during the holiday season is to help others. Of course, there are studies that confirm that helping others is the one way to increase our own happiness. 

However, you should not forget that volunteering allows you to know more people, spend time with your loved ones, and do something great for your local community. And, since the holiday season can be particularly hard for certain people, volunteering can truly make someone’s day!

Opt for Solar-Powered Lights

There is nothing more fascinating than adding Christmas lights to your home and admiring the decorations of other households in your neighborhood. While this is all part of the Christmas magic, don’t forget about the increased use of household energy that happens over the holiday season!

Luckily, thanks to modern technology, there are plenty of ways to lighten up your home without affecting the environment as much. For example, you might consider investing in LED or solar-powered lights. This simple swap can help you do something great for the environment and save some money on your energy bills!

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

Decorate With Natural Elements

Preparing your home for the holiday season is an important part of the tradition. However, picking the right decorations can make all the difference. An excellent way to avoid buying new items is to repurpose natural elements. For example, plants, leaves, flowers, and fruits are ideal to add color around the home without having to buy additional plastic items that will inevitably end up in landfills. 

Communicate Your Love With a Quote

Ultimately, the holiday season is the time to share your love for others and create long-lasting memories with those who are the closest to you. However, you don’t necessarily need big gestures to show your love and appreciation. For example, you could just find the perfect inspirational holiday quotes to tell your loved ones how you feel in just a few words - make sure to write them in a recycled, homemade, or compostable Christmas card!