How do you avoid generating waste around the biggest festival of the holiday season? Between the gifts, the decorations, and the traditional gift-giving, is this even a sensible endeavor?
Each year, we increase our waste production around the holiday season by up to 30%. This includes everything from food leftovers to disposed Christmas trees— every little beloved Christmas tradition comes with its own environmental cost.
Does this mean you should just stop celebrating Christmas altogether? Absolutely not!
Remember: being environmentally conscious is a simple matter of switching up some of your habits for more sustainable ones.
With that in mind, here are some of the ways you can have a more green Christmas!
And stick with it religiously.
Flash sales, deals, and discounts can easily rattle even the most conscious consumer. It seems that just the intention of making more sustainable shopping choices won’t cut it anymore.
Instead, what you need is a solid game plan, an exhaustive list of everything you need to buy. This includes gifts, food items, cards, decorations, and so on. Here is how you can make the ultimate Christmas shopping list:
- Conduct an inventory check so that you can avoid buying what you already have in the house.
- Set a spending limit, either per person or per category. For example, the maximum you can spend on gifts per person could be $5, and the maximum you spend on food could be $50.
- Differentiate between the things you absolutely need and simply want but can probably do without.
- Design a sensible and modest menu beforehand.
Stick to your list to avoid impulse shopping. Remember: if it’s not on the list, you definitely don’t need it.
Let’s face it: there’s no Christmas without the perfect Christmas tree. In fact, Christmas trees are such an integral part of the holiday spirit that people buy, decorate, and display a new one each year.
But have you ever wondered what happens to your beloved tree once the festivities end?
Most of these evergreen trees are either turned into mulch, burned for fuel, or simply dumped in landfills. It’s a premature end to their otherwise long and environmentally-beneficial lives. And the cycle repeats each year.
Luckily, though, you can break up the cycle by renting a Christmas tree instead. This has several benefits:
- You don’t have to worry about disposing of the tree afterward.
- Rented trees are typically replanted after Christmas. As such, they continue to filter the air until the next year.
- Rented trees are usually pot-grown, which means they require fewer fertilizers.
- There is absolutely zero waste since the trees are replanted and reused every year.
Sending and receiving Christmas cards from friends and family is one of our favorite Christmas traditions. However, it definitely isn’t the greenest Christmas tradition.
Beyond the obvious “it wastes paper” argument, most Christmas cards usually aren’t recyclable. Between the glitter, ribbons, and stickers, this sweet sentiment produces a lot of non-reusable waste.
Then there’s the matter of mailing your cards out to everyone, which means excessive fuel consumption.
This Christmas, try sending out heartfelt messages and good thoughts without burdening the environment. Moreover, you can actually get way more creative outside the confines of a piece of paper. Some options include:
- Sending a Christmas ecard to reduce paper and fuel waste.
- Making a slideshow full of pictures, memories, and messages to go the extra mile.
- Preparing a voice note or video for more personalized holiday greetings.
- Sending a postcard to avoid envelopes and other Christmas card packaging.
- Writing a letter
- Buying eco-friendly Christmas cards from companies that source and produce responsibly.
- Getting crafty and making DIY cards from repurposed paper.
Nothing captures the Christmas spirit like decorative lights strung across every building, tree, lamppost, and household.
Pretty as they may look, can you imagine how much energy we must be wasting in the days leading up to and following Christmas? The amount of energy consumed during Christmas week alone is enough to power small developing countries such as El Salvador for a whole year.
Not only that, but people also tend to become more complacent around the holidays vis-a-vis switching on more lights and cranking up the thermostat.
So, it’s about time we get off our tails, spring into action, and conserve energy this Christmas by:
- Switching to LED Christmas lights since LEDs use considerably less energy.
- Use an automatic timer to make sure your lights don’t stay on for longer than a few hours a day.
- Light up the fireplace instead of using the heater.
- Use energy-savvy shopping habits such as online shopping, carpooling to stores, etc.
Can you recall how long it took for you to get rid of those Thanksgiving leftovers? How many of those did you end up throwing away?
Most importantly, are you going to put yourself through all that again with your Christmas feast?
Undoubtedly, food is a huge component of Christmas celebrations around the world. But you don’t have to be excessive and wasteful with your annual Christmas feast. Instead, try the following food-waste-saving tips:
- Get food items with the least amount of packaging. The least-packaged and therefore waste-producing options are readily available at farmers’ markets.
- Don’t throw away leftovers. Instead, you can turn to many recipes that are specifically designed for holiday season leftovers.
- If you are hosting a Christmas dinner, ask everyone to bring one dish each so that everyone can cut down on aggregate waste.
Here are some other tips to help you have a more green Christmas:
- Carry reusable bags with you every time you go out to shop.
- Wrap gifts using paper and save the wrapping sheets from the gifts you receive for later use.
- Shop from eco-friendly brands for sustainable gifts like clothing, bags, and other accessories.
- Send less tangible and more experienced-based gifts that will not produce any waste.
Everyone loves a white Christmas. But the waste we generate as a result of our celebration habits may not leave us with many snowy Christmases in the future.
So, how about you advocate for a more green Christmas this year? All it takes is making a few changes to your habits around the holidays to make sure you’re throwing out as few things as possible.