Everyone loves the holiday season. From decorating your home with all of your favorite lights and ornaments, to when that beautiful morning finally comes and the kids run out into the living room to grab their stockings, the holidays provide fun for the whole family. But what about the environmentally conscious consumer? What are some of the things that can be done to allow you to enjoy the holidays while still remaining eco-friendly?
The following is a list of many, many things that can be done to enjoy the holidays in a way that causes minimal harm to the environment.
1. Start by purchasing eco-friendly gifts. In regards to the environment, not all gifts are created equal. Choose gifts that are manufactured in a way that is environmentally friendly, and that have low carbon footprints when they are used.
2. Only purchase gifts that you know will be put to good use. Even kids do not like to get a whole lot of junk for the holidays, so purchase only those things that you know will not end up in the trash bin. Not only will this be more eco-friendly, but the recipients of the gifts will appreciate the fact that you gave them things that they will treasure.
3. Shop local. Locally manufactured items do not have to be shipped across the country, thus reducing the amount of vehicle pollution needed in order to get them to you.
4. Use wrapping paper alternatives. Wrapping paper gets ripped off of the gifts and then thrown out, leaving excess waste among the festivities. Instead of using wrapping paper, place your gifts in bags that can be reused for years to come. Not only will the recipient have the gift, but they will have a way of wrapping gifts the following year that is easy and eco-friendly.
Most of the mass-produced shiny wrapping paper is not recyclable and ends up in landfills. Most of this shining and glossy paper is used to present gifts to near and dear ones. Imagine the impact on the environment considering that so many trees and oil are wasted each year just to be thrown away in landfills.
5. Stick to the one gift rule. Particularly when you have kids, you will notice that many family members like to go all out and buy a number of gifts for the little ones. Sticking to a one gift rule for all family members will ensure that there is no excess waste, and it will also ensure that the one gift the kids get from any of them will be a good one.
6. Practice your arts and crafts skills. This can add more fun to the holidays for the kids, as well. Have them make gifts for friends and family rather than buying them can be fun and also save you some money. It might even be a good idea to celebrate by holding a handmade gift exchange in which all participants have to either make their gifts themselves or purchase them from someone who did.
7. Simplify your decorations. There is no reason to overdo it. Keep your decorating as simple as possible.
8. Use natural decorations. Rather than filling the inside and outside of your home with a bunch of plastic that will just be thrown out and the end of the year, use decorations that are made out of wood and other natural substances.
9. Choose the right kind of tree. If they only last a couple of years, fake trees really do not do anything to help the environment. A real tree can be mulched after the holidays, which will ultimately use less energy than what was used to create a fake tree. The best option, however, is likely a potted tree, which can be used for more than one year and then planted after it has been used in your home as much as possible.
10. Use LED lights. LED lighting is far more efficient than the older bulbs. If you have not changed the lights you decorate with for a long time, upgrading to LED lighting will not only use far less energy, but it will also save you a whole lot of money on your electric bill.
11. Replace bulbs that have burnt out. When a string of lights no longer work, it is usually a single bulb that is the problem. Replacing the burnt out bulb will keep you from tossing the whole thing. The best way to do this is with bulb tester.
12. Use timers for your lights. Setting a timer so that your lights turn on at dusk and off at dawn is much more efficient than having the lights on 24/7. Using a timer will help both the environment and your bank account.
13. Don’t use disposable dishes and silverware. When a lot of people are over, many people find it easier to use paper plates and plastic ware. Unfortunately, this leads to a whole lot of waste. Use actual dishes instead. It will make clean up more difficult, but it will be far more eco-friendly.
14. Don’t toss leftovers. Rather than throwing away leftovers, compost them or feed them to animals (chickens will eat anything) in order to reduce waste.
15. Clean using all natural cleaners. Don’t use harmful chemicals during your clean up.
16. Share the celebration. Have everyone celebrate the holidays under one roof. This will save many resources.
17. Take only one shopping trip. Not only will taking care of all of your shopping on one trip make the entire season a whole lot easier, but it will also reduce your carbon footprint.
18. Shop online. This is not only convenient, but it also can reduce your own fuel consumption.
19. Carpool to holiday events to reduce your commuting carbon footprint. Traveling together is more social, affordable, and environmentally friendly then traveling alone.
20. Donate to charity. If you are looking to help the environment, you can never go wrong by giving a holiday donation to an environmental charity.
21. Adjust your thermostat. Although energy expenses tend to go up in the winter, you can save energy by turning the thermostat down at night and bundling up under the covers.
22. Buy local, organic food. Whatever food you might be serving during the celebration, keep it locally grown and organic, and do not purchase meat from industrial farms. It is not only a pleasure for your taste buds, but also a big winner on the eco front.
23. Recycled wrapping paper. If bags aren’t your thing, use recycled wrapping paper.
24. Send digital gift cards. This is one of the best ways to reduce waste and fuel consumption. Digital gift cards can be sent over the internet, allowing the recipient to place orders at online stores.
25. Don’t subscribe to gift catalogs. There are a lot of resources wasted on different holiday catalogs. Making purchases online reduces the need to order from catalogs, so simply do not subscribe to them.
26. Buy holiday cards that are made from recycled paper. Reduce the number of trees that need to be chopped down by purchasing holiday cards that are made with recycled paper.
27. Cook everything from scratch. Most people cook themselves around the holidays, but there are still plenty of food items that are often sold ready-made. Things like gravy, pie crust, and cranberry sauce can all be made from scratch, and doing so will be far more environmentally friendly.
28. Eco-friendly alcohol options. This is something most people do not think about, but purchasing organic wines and local microbrews will also have a positive impact on the environment and the local economy.
29. Use natural candles. A lot of people enjoy holiday candles. However, they are often made from a petroleum-based wax. Instead of using these, look into candles with natural wax, like beeswax.
30. Use organic spices. Even those who are environmentally conscious and purchase free-range meats often overlook the spices they use while cooking. Purchasing organic spices will also help the environment just like purchasing organic fruits, vegetables, and locally raised, free range meats. Do not forget about these other ingredients when shopping for an organic holiday meal.
31. Purchase eco-friendly presents: Eco-friendly products have low carbon impact, are made from sustainable materials and can be easily recycled. Above all, try to choose products that come with minimal packaging.
32. Offset your travel (Buy carbon offsets): There are number of companies like CarbonFund, Carbonify that can offset the carbon emissions generated by you by planting trees or investing in renewable energy projects. All you need is to purchase these carbon offsets to minimize your impact on the environment.
33. Party without waste: It is quite common to see households generating excess amount of waste or garbage during the holidays. Not all plastic can be recycled and most of them hang around the landfills. Use biodegradable plates, cloth instead of paper napkin, borrow plates or rent dinnerware.
34. Seeds make great, long lasting gifts. Visit your local greenhouse and find some beautiful indoor and outdoor plants for your loved ones.
35. Use Reusable coffee cups and water bottles. Do your part in saving the environment by getting hold of a safe reusable drink bottle. This will help to to reduce the millions of plastic bottles thrown away every year in our waterways and the ocean.
36. Donate to an environmental group: Its can’t get easy than this. If you don’t have time and willingness to make changes in your lifestyle, you can at-least donate to an environmental group to make a difference, so you can have a great impact for a small amount of effort.
37. Involve others: The holidays are supposed to be spent with close friends and family members. Ask them if they would be willing to join you on an eco-friendly holiday. Together you can share ideas and work on making your holidays memorable one.