Everyone loves the holiday season, and many people greatly anticipate this time of year, but the holidays are often associated with less than green habits. Decorating the house, cooking a family dinner, decorating the tree, stuffing stockings, exchanging gifts, and more are all pillars of the holiday season, but we typically don’t think about how our holiday celebrations can affect the environment. Most people think going green or changing your habits to be more eco-friendly mandates a sacrifice, but it doesn’t. You do not need to entirely abandon or change your holiday traditions to be green this year. By making small changes to your holiday plans, you can lower your environmental impact without sacrificing or giving up customs you love. Here are a few tips to make your holidays just as merry as ever, but a little bit greener.
Everyone loves receiving gifts, and exchanging presents is a big part of the holidays for most families. Most people only think of what would make the best gift within a budget but never consider the broader global impacts of mass holiday shopping. The act of giving gifts isn’t anti-green, but the gifts you give can impact the planet. Instead of going to your local big-box store or shopping online, take the time to make gifts for the people close to you this year. Homemade gifts are more meaningful and heartfelt, along with being more environmentally friendly.
Instead of buying a new shirt as a gift, take the time to custom tie-dye one with disperse dyes. You can even make an event out of it by inviting family over to make gifts together. Homemade gifts are the perfect chance to show off how well you know your family and friends, as well as your personal skills and creativity. Bake personalized cookies or write a poem in pretty lettering; there are no limits to your homemade gifts. If making your own gifts is not an option, look for green gifts like natural soaps or donate to a charity in your family member’s name.
One of the most wasteful parts of the holidays is the wrapping paper. Shiny wrapping paper is fun to tear open, but it becomes nothing but waste once it hits your trash can. Instead of using standard store-bought wrapping paper, look for more eco-friendly gift wrapping options. Take inspiration from the Japanese tradition of furoshiki fabric wraps and wrap gifts with fabric. You can even take old shirts and make gift bundles that are personal for each gift recipient. You could also make the wrapping part of the gift by using a decorative scarf or a specifically made green gift wrap cloth. Gift bags or boxes are another reusable option that also creates a fun family tradition. Each family member keeps the gift bags they receive and reuse them next year to pass the bags around.
If you want to get a tree to celebrate the holidays, there are a few ways to make your tree more eco-friendly. Instead of getting a pre-cut or fake tree, consider getting a live tree. Live trees are holiday trees that are still alive and will remain alive after the
holidays. The idea is that your live tree sits in a pot or indoor planter during the holidays and is then planted outside after the holidays. Companies like The Living Christmas Tree offer rental and delivery options for living trees, so all the hassle is taken care of. Living trees typically come with care instructions, so there is no guesswork when it comes time to care for your tree. However, before you commit to a living tree, make sure you know what you are getting. Living trees are usually less “perfect” than trees from tree farms, and living trees require daily care to stay alive.
When it comes time to decorate your tree, look for LED tree lights instead of older styles. LED lights use less energy to produce an even brighter light than traditional bulbs. Using LED tree lights will help keep your energy bill down, but adding a timer to your tree will help even more. A tree light timer is similar to a programmable thermostat. You enter the times when you want your tree lights to be on and when to turn them off, then the timer handles the rest. This ensures your lights aren’t left on accidentally, which saves energy and money.
The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a wasteful time. Make your holidays greener this year by giving green, maybe even homemade gifts, use reusable wrapping materials, and consider making your holiday tree even greener with a few changes. By following these suggestions, you will have the same family-centered celebration as always while helping the planet.