The holidays are upon us, and we’re all rushing to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Unfortunately, with all the shopping, wrapping, eating, and events, the holidays are often accompanied by an abundance of waste. If you want to enjoy yourself, but also make a minimal impact on the environment, below is a list of tips to help you make this the most eco-friendly holiday you’ve ever had.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
You don’t necessarily need to reuse gifts (although re-gifting is perfectly acceptable in some situations), but you can definitely reuse last year’s wrapping paper and greeting cards. Turn your scrap paper into snowflakes and recycle your cardboard into gift boxes or handmade decorations. You can even take something old and use a little creativity to turn it into a new gift, saving money and the plastic used in packaging.
Pot your tree
Instead of getting a tree that will only end up on the curb, grab a tree that is slightly on the small side and plant it in a large pot. You can use it for many years (with the occasional pot upgrade) and when you’re not using it you can keep it outside. When it gets too tall for the living room, just plant it in your yard for good, or have it turned into mulch and chips for some detailed landscaping.
Online shopping can seem so appealing—it removes the long lineups, chaotic mall parking lots, and holiday traffic— but it also creates a lot of waste with all the packaging and travel needed to get your item to you. Instead of getting something that has to be shipped, try to shop local. Food, gifts, wrapping materials, crafts, decorations, and party supplies can all be found locally if you know where to look.
If you have the time to make homemade cards from recycled materials, great! However, if you don’t have time but still want to be eco-friendly, try sending e-cards this year. You can get as creative as you want; design them yourself, use personalized photos and greetings, or just use a template. It’ll ensure you don’t waste paper but still send a thoughtful seasons greetings.
Gifts and decorations don’t always have to be store bought. Give the gift of time by spending your spare minutes creating homemade gifts, cards, wrapping paper, decorations, and food. With Pinterest to help, you don’t even need to be an overly crafty person, just do some online idea browsing and get crafting.
If your home isn’t already lit with LED light bulbs, now is your chance to make the switch. LED lights are more energy efficient (only 6-8 watts, instead of the usual 60) and last much longer than other household light bulbs (50,000 hours compared to 1,200 for incandescent and 8,000 for florescent). Go LED crazy with LED holiday lights, LED candles (safer than real candles!), and LED spotlights.
Keep it simple
Not all holiday events have to be over-the-top festive soirees. This holiday, instead of taking the family to an expensive restaurant, have a potluck dinner, and then go for a walk in a local conservation area or park. If you or somebody you know seems to already have everything they need, try trading skills or manpower. You can teach them to knit and they can help you tile your bathroom. Or skip gifts all together and donate to a charity; that way everybody wins.
Also on RNR: