The holiday season can take a toll on the environment with high electricity bills, increased traveling, and frivolous purchases but it does not have to! The holidays should not be a burden on the planet, there are ways you can reduce the environmental impact of this holiday season.
Buy less and Thrift Gifts
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Giving gifts to others is a thoughtful gesture that is expected at Christmas and Hanukkah. There are ways you can give more while spending less! Purchase gifts with a purpose that will mean something to the person you are giving them to. According to Accenture's annual holiday shopping survery, American consumers are increasingly interested in giving and receiving thrifted gifts for the holidays. Here is a link to a Business Insider article about thrift store gifts.
Buy Smart: Think ‘Green’
A majority of items are made in China or halfway around the world. Transportation of these items to the U.S. contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions. Support your community and small businesses by shopping for locally made gifts!
Lower the Impact of Holiday Lighting
Christmas is the season when families hang an abundance of holiday lights indoors and outdoors. This year try and reduce your outdoor lighting display if possible. Do you really need all those lights? Think about the amount of electricity you will be saving if you cut back a little. Utilize timers for your Christmas lights whether they are on your tree or outdoors. Try using LED lights because they use less energy and can last longer than traditional light bulbs.
Choosing the right kind of tree
When deciding what kind of Christmas tree to use most people are not thinking about the more environmentally friendly option. Not every family can use a live Christmas tree due to allergies or pets, but if you have no restrictions think through your decision carefully. Artificial trees are able to be reused for multiple years which is better than new real trees possibly getting disposed into landfills every year but artificial trees cannot be recycled and are not biodegradable. Live trees are a renewable resource that can be recycled into mulch or be re-planted. Whether or not using a live tree is environmentally better than using an artificial tree depends on how long you plan to use your artificial tree for and what you plan to do with your real tree after Christmas.
Eco-friendly gift wrapping
Reuse your gift wrap when possible! Nothing is wrong with saving wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and bags to be reused for the following year! Get creative with what you have around the house, you can wrap gifts with old newspapers or brown paper bags then draw a design on them...there are so many ways! Recycle your wrapping paper and boxes instead of throwing them away. During this hectic holiday season this can be overlooked so make sure to be mindful!
Every Christmas and Hanukkah people buy cards that are looked at for less than five seconds and then are either thrown away or tossed in a drawer to never be looked at again. Create your own holiday cards this year! Even if you are not artistic the thought of making your own will mean more to the receiver and might inspire people to keep your card longer or display it.
Real vs. Disposable Plates
When having lots of guests over it is much easier to use disposable plates and silverware rather than using real dishes and having to wash them all afterwards. If you are going to use disposable plates, use recyclable plates not plastic or Styrofoam.
Try and make this a green holiday season!