The holidays are a time for generosity and tasty food, but its environmental impact can be a bit more sobering. Want to
make your holidays more eco-friendly? You're not alone. According to data by Stanford, it's the peak time for rubbish heading to landfills, with Americans producing a full 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year than they do the rest of the year. That includes 125,000 tons of plastic wrapping and 38,800 miles of ribbon. Having fights with balled-up wrapping paper might have seemed fun when you were a kid, but now you're a grown-ass adult, and it's time to take a bit more environmental responsibility.
Sometimes going green can be a little more expensive than the non-sustainable options, but we're in the middle of a seriously environmentally friendly moment when it comes to gifts, packaging, and other holiday traditions. It's never been easier to track down recycled cards, environmentally friendly Christmas trees, or tutorials on cool eco-friendly decorations to make at home. Eco-friendly gifts are now much more popular too, so your gift shopping can be as sustainable as the rest of your holiday season. Here are five ways to swap unsustainable holiday traditions with slightly more eco-friendly ones.
Instead Of A Plastic Tree, Rent A Sustainable One
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Your conventional Christmas tree options don't have a super sustainable rep. There's plastic Christmas trees, which, while reusable, take a
lot of resources to get from the factory to your door. Conventional grown Christmas trees filter the air while they're growing, but end their life after two weeks in your living room out on the curb on their way to the landfill (or, best case scenario, mulched).
Option three? Check out tree-rental companies that allow Christmas trees to be replanted. "Some local organizations, such as
Our City Forest, enable residents to rent a live tree for up to one month. After the holidays, the organization takes the tree back and ensures that it is planted in the community," explains Canopy.
2. Instead Of Paper Wrapping, Use Scarves Or Recycled Materials
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Gift wrapping can involve quite a lot of waste. If you've saved your gift paper from last year, remember to reuse it, but if not, there are a good set of options to make things more eco-friendly. "Choose a
gorgeous fabric scarf to wrap your gift in – the recipient will love you for the 2-in-1 present," recommends Real Homes. "Charity shops and second hand stores are a good place to shop for them." Bath product store Lush does this as part of their general green approach to their merchandise. Brown, undyed paper from recycled materials is another good option, and can look very chic with a bit of greenery attached, or go with newspapers (though make sure the gift inside won't be dyed by newsprint).
Instead Of Candles, Use Energy-Saving LED Lighting
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Lighting creates that ~holiday~ feel, but there are ways to make it more eco-friendly. "Use
LED or solar lights instead of power-hungry incandescents, and remember to replace burst bulbs where possible, instead of throwing the whole string away," recommends Good Housekeeping. Also, a fact I didn't know: there are better materials for candles than paraffin. "Soya, beeswax or vegetable oil candles" are more eco-friendly, and part of Good Housekeeping's advice for a greener Christmas.
Instead Of Buying Cards, Make Your Own
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A lot of holiday cards end up in the landfill, which seems like a massive waste of good sentiments and recyclable material. Instead, get your hands a bit dirty. "As well as recycling the cards you receive in the post, why not get crafty with the kids and make your
own eco-friendly Christmas cards to send," suggests Green People. "Use recycled card and envelopes and cut down on plastic packaging, or you can buy recycled cards if crafts just aren’t your thing." Or just go with e-cards and hand-delivered boxes of chocolate.
Instead Of Plastic Ornaments, Recycle Giftwrap & Ribbons
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The cute plastic baubles on sale in the shops are very sweet, but pretty unsustainable to make, and likely to end up in landfill. Instead, it's a good idea to refresh your Christmas decorations yourself while you watch
The Christmas Prince on Netflix. Craft possibilities abound: use leftover ribbon to make tiny trees, turn recycled paper into baubles, and bake cookies or pop popcorn to put on the tree instead of shiny plastic things.
The holidays are a time for generosity, but it can also be eco-friendly with a little bit of effort. And yes, eating all the leftovers to beat food waste does count as being green.