The holiday season can be a particularly excessive time of year – but it doesn’t have to be. By taking a few conscientious steps, reducing waste, bills and guilt can be as easy as gaining 5 lbs on Thanksgiving!
1. Holiday lighting can give you that warm fuzzy feeling but it can also devour energy and inflate your bills. LED holiday lights use 90% less energy and can be found at Target, Costco and Ace Hardware. Don’t forget to turn off your lights when you go to bed!
2. Eat as local and organic as possible. Find local farms here.
3. Get creative with your wrapping. Most wrapping paper can’t be recycled and ends up in landfills. Avoid contributing to this epidemic by giving gifts in reusable bags, wrapped in scarves or wrapped in magazines and newspapers.
4. Give gifts that give. So many presents end up in the back of the closet or covered in dust on a shelf. This year, try showering people with useful gifts that are good for the planet like reusable bags, rechargeable batteries, charitable donations or gifts that benefit the greater good. If the present is going long distance, buy online and ship directly from the source to lighten your footprint (or offset the carbon emissions from transportation!).
5. Burn sustainably. Don’t ruin a perfectly green holiday with conventional petroleum-based candles. Beeswax and soy candles make great green alternatives!
6. E-send your love. Getting holiday cards in the mail can be touching but it’s not the greenest practice when you consider the paper and fuel involved in the gesture. Why not send e-cards to your loved ones and donate the would-be postage to a good cause instead?
7. Decorate naturally. With global warming, we’ll probably be more in need of frost in a can but it will only make matters worse with its toxins. Hop in a time machine and decorate with popcorn and cranberry strings. After all, retro is always in style.
8. Treat yourself to a sustainable tree. If you’re in the market for a Christmas tree, a Hanukkah bush or a New Year’s shrub, consider a potted live one that you can keep inside or plant in the yard after the holidays. Don’t have the space? Then try to buy from an organic tree farm instead of one that uses tons of pesticides.
9. Reuse holiday ware. Who cares about the Joneses. These days, it’s all about keeping up with the Greens. Don’t be afraid to use the same holiday table settings each year – it’s better for the environment and your wallet. Just make sure to include some cloth napkins in your tradition.
10. Travel greenly. If you’re spending the holidays elsewhere, explore eco-tourism.
11. Donate, donate, donate! Got new organic clothes? Donate your old ones to a thrift store. Got gifts you don’t like but can’t return? The thrift store would love to have them.
12. Recycle, recycle, recycle! Got new electronics? If your old ones are broken and can’t be donated, find out where and how to recycle them.
And most importantly – HAVE FUN!