The holidays are a time to be together, give tokens of love and appreciation, and share a meal. But these festivities also produce extra waste, like gift wrapping, excess food, and excessive consumer habits. The following are some tips for having a green(er) Christmas this year.
Use recyclable materials for gift wrapping and your holiday cards. Standard, shiny wrapping paper needs to be thrown in the trash, as do most ribbons and bows. Look for companies that sell recyclable gift wrap, bags, and cards, and bonus points for those made from post-consumer, recycled paper. Consider giving presents in reusable bags in cute colours to encourage good bad habits.
Real Christmas trees are preferable if they come from sustainable growers. Ask the sellers about their sustainable practices and protection of wildlife. You’ll want trees grown for this specific purpose and that sellers aren’t destroying natural forest and habitat. Plastic trees can be re-used every year, but they can’t be recycled, and they’re likely from China or have travelled a long way to be in your living room.
Donate your old clothes to a shelter or charity. People tend to do this more at the holidays because they receive new ones. The weather is also freezing temperatures in many places, and warm clothes are needed.
As for old electronics, be secure and green by having your old technology, plus reap the benefits of document shredding while you’re at it, taken care of by a professional data destruction company that will recycle the remaining materials. E-waste is a major environmental issue that can leech toxins into the land, water, and air (through incineration). The materials – some of which come from war-torn areas – can be used to make new things, too.
Try beeswax or soy wax candles to replace your paraffin ones. Standard paraffin candles are petroleum products and release toxins into the air. Beeswax cleans the air as it burns. Plus, they are biodegradable and have a lovely golden glow.
The less meat you consume, the better it is for the environment. You may not be prepared to ditch the turkey but at least finding one that is organic and was raised in humane conditions is better. Have side dishes and desserts that consist primarily of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other lower impact foods.
Save your leftovers after big holiday feasts and follow the proper precautions to cool, store, and reheat them. Use reusable containers and/or all-natural beeswax paper to cover. Consume after 2-3 days unless frozen. Compost the scraps from food prep, following the proper guidelines here, as well.
Cut down on light usage by turning off lights in rooms you’re not in, and don’t leave your holiday lights on all the time. Looks for energy efficient lights and replace those old (and probably dangerous) retro Christmas tree lights that get hot to the touch!
When it comes to food and presents, buy as local as you can. The less distance goods are transported, the better for the earth. Plus, supporting growers, suppliers, artisans, craftspeople, and others in your community will help it thrive.
Buy gifts that people need and will use. A present that is a duplicate or something the receiver isn’t going to ever use is a waste of money and resources. Ascertain what they need and will love to ensure your gift dollars, materials, and the energy to produce doesn’t go to waste.