The holiday season is a time to gather with family and friends, but it can also be an opportunity to limit our carbon footprint during a time that is traditionally very polluting. With just a few small changes, it’s possible to have a festive and eco-friendly holiday season. Aside from purchasing eco friendly products, there are some Christmas traditions you can integrate into your yearly festivities that wouldn't even look out of place as earth day traditions! The holiday seasondoesn't have to be an environmentally damaging time but can instead be a beautiful opportunity to find alternatives to old wasteful traditions and integrate sustainability into holiday cheer.
Here are five easy and earth friendly holiday traditions you can start this year.
Get Long Lasting Decorations
One of the best ways to make your holiday season more earth friendly is to invest in decorations that can be used year after year. Consider buying decorations made of natural, plastic-free materials such as wood or metal. These types of decorations are not only more sustainable, but they look much better than their plastic counterparts. If you're a big advent calendar fan try to find reusable advent calendars. Most reusable decorative items are higher quality and make great yearly memories with familiar objects.
While petroleum-based products cram the Target Christmas aisle, sustainable and more unique products can be found on sites like Etsy where your money goes to supporting small businesses and you can skip the stress of in person shopping. It's really a win, win, win!
When choosing Christmas lights, consider an energy efficient option. Incandescent holiday lights consume a lot of energy and require frequent replacement. Instead, opt for LED lights that use much less energy and last up to 25 times longer. LED lights are also available in a variety of colors, giving you the opportunity to get creative with your decorations.
Another great way to keep your Christmas decorations earth friendly is by making your own ornaments. This is a great way to get the whole family involved in the holiday festivities. Crafting ornaments out of natural materials such as wood, paper, or fabric is a fun and creative way to decorate your home and doesn't have to be labor intensive! Simple white paper snowflakes or pine cones with peanut butter and seeds to make bird friendly outside Christmas decorationsare great options. Decorating with natural elements such as pinecones, acorns, and dried flowers is a great way to create a festive atmosphere without buying a lot of new items!
Once you've gotten the most use you can out of your decorations and are ready to move onto new items, donating to charities is a great way to spread holiday cheer while also being earth-friendly. Donating items that you no longer need or use can help those in need and keep waste out of the landfill.
Give to Charity
One of the easiest and most earth friendly holiday traditions to start is giving to charity. Charitable giving is a great way to spread holiday cheer and help those less fortunate in our communities. You can donate money to a charity of your choice, volunteer your time and energy to help out, or buy gifts for kids in need. When you give to charity, you can be sure that you are making a positive impact on the world and helping to make a difference in someone’s life. Not only is this a great way to spread the holiday spirit, but it’s also an earth friendly way to celebrate the holidays. If committing to volunteer time at an organized charity is intimidating, taking a day to collect trash as a family at a local park or planting a tree can be great ways to be charitable with your time over the holidays.
Visit a Locally Owned Tree Farm
Artificial Christmas trees are made of plastic and are difficult to recycle. Instead, opt for a real Christmas tree that can be replanted or composted after the holidays. You can even opt for a potted tree that can be reused in future years. If you decide to go with a cut tree don't buy your tree from the grocery store but make a day of finding a local tree farm instead and supporting a local business.
Visiting a local tree farm to purchase a real Christmas tree or wreath is one of the easiest and most earth friendly holiday traditions to start. Not only will you be supporting a local business and your community, but you will also be helping to preserve the environment. Most tree farms grow their trees using sustainable farming methods, using fewer chemicals and fertilizers than traditional farms. Additionally, when you choose to purchase a real tree, you're helping to reduce the amount of non-renewable resources used to create artificial trees. When you buy from local tree farms and bring your own tree home you also reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding cut trees that have been trucked to your local grocery store and whose transportation causes unnecessary pollution. Taking the time to visit a local tree farm is a wonderful way to bring the holiday spirit into your home without compromising the environment.
Cut Down Food Waste
One of the best and easiest earth friendly holiday traditions is to cut down on food waste. It’s easy to get carried away with cooking and baking for the season, but make sure to plan ahead and take stock of what you already have on hand. If you’re hosting a gathering, ask your guests to bring a dish or two to share. Consider using reusable dishes, cutlery, and cups, so you can avoid using single-use plastics. You can also donate any extra food you have to local food banks or shelters, or freeze it for later use. Reducing food waste is an easy and important way to help protect the planet during the holiday season.
Give Experiences Instead of Things
One of the best ways to create an earth-friendly holiday is to give experiences rather than physical gifts. Gift certificates for a night out at a restaurant, tickets to a local event, or memberships to a museum or amusement park are all great options. You can also plan a special family outing or day trip to a nearby destination. Not only are these experiences memorable, but they also don't add to the waste created by the holidays.