The holidays are a time where everything gets ramped up, from baking and eating to hosting and shopping, and all the emotions in between. All the frenzy that comes with this season can also lead to an excess amount of consumption, which comes with a cost, not only to your bank balance, but also to the environment. Don’t let the holidays overwhelm you this year. Here are several simple ways to make the holiday season less consumption-focused and more sustainable, while still keeping it merry and bright.
Conscious Gift Giving
Shop local or support small businesses that align with your values. One way to shop consciously is to purchase items that are eco-friendly and sustainable to minimize the impact of your purchase on the environment, or to support businesses that support fair wages. Some businesses may also make donations to charitable organizations on your behalf with every purchase. Or, consider making a donation on behalf of your loved one as the gift itself! There are many ways to promote sustainability and bring meaning to your holiday gift-giving.
Food waste is a real problem during the holidays. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, food waste has been estimated to increase by 25%, or a whopping 1 million extra tons. Imagine how many underprivileged families that could be fed with that amount of food. Being mindful this holiday season can mean using up leftovers from large meals in creative ways, such as lunches for the next day, or snacks for a long drive. In some regions, leftover meals can also be donated to food banks and can actually get delivered to those who may need it.
Ditch the wrapping paper and cards
Wrapping paper, as glorious and exciting as they make gift-giving, are just plain wasteful. The same goes for greeting cards, where the majority of cards are read once and dumped in a landfill rather than saved for their sentimental value. Find alternative options to wrapping paper and cards that are not just good for one-time use. Reuse old wrapping paper and ribbons, or save old boxes. Send a fun or cute video greeting instead of a card, or use biodegradable cards. Some of these can even turn into sponges that you can use to clean up your holiday mess!
Stay local. Explore your home
Ditch the travel plans this year to reduce your carbon footprint. There are plenty of fun activities that you can do around home, whether you live in a cold or warm climate. You can use the extra money to explore heritage sites, eat at new restaurants, and try fun activities that you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t had the chance to.
Gift an Experience
Gifts don’t necessarily have to be tangible items that are often either returned, worn out over time, and discarded. Experiences, like an escape room, a fitness class, or a massage, are alternatives to gift-giving that don’t contribute to waste and can be tailored to your recipient’s interests.
Use LED lights for your décor
Lights use up a considerable amount of electricity this time of year. LED lights are much more energy-efficient, using 50% less energy than incandescent bulbs, are longer lasting, and can help you save money on your holiday electricity bill.
There are many ways beyond this list that the holidays can be meaningful and full of joy without being wasteful – not only for you, but also for those around you. Consider the impact of your decisions this year and think of the little ways that you can promote a sustainable holiday season.