As the holiday season approaches, many of us anticipate the joy of giving and receiving gifts, sharing meals, and creating lasting memories with loved ones. However, the festivities can sometimes come at a significant environmental cost. Household waste increases on average 25% during the holidays. The good news is that you can make a positive impact on the planet while celebrating the holiday season. Explore these practical ways to make the holidays more sustainable.
Think about the life cycle of the products you buy – from origin, transport, packaging, end of life, whether it uses batteries or other resources. Consider gifts that are thoughtful and eco-friendly. Handmade presents, experiences, or donations to charitable organizations make great eco-friendly gifts. Supporting local artisans, businesses, and farmer’s markets lower the carbon footprint of the gifts you buy. If you have a gift exchange, make it a themed one – like vintage, thrift store, or repurposed items only.
Wrapping it Up Sustainably
333 million square feet of wrapping paper is used each year! Alternative gift-wrapping options that reduce waste are reusable cloth bags, scarves, or recycled paper. Reuse brown paper bags or newspaper and have your kids draw or stamp on them for a unique wrapping. Ribbons and bows can be saved for future occasions. My mom used to singsong to “save the bows” so she could reuse them each holiday.
There is a charm to homemade decorations that have a positive impact on the environment. Make centerpieces with real greenery, pinecones, and leaves from your yard. Opt for LED or solar lighting which consume significantly less energy than traditional holiday lights. The use of timers ensures lights are only on when needed. And sustainably dispose of unused décor at Turnip Green Creative Reuse or Christmas Light Source.
There has been an ongoing debate between real and artificial trees. While artificial trees can be reused year after year, they have a steep carbon footprint for their transport and an environmental cost for disposal at their end of life. A real tree can be a better option for the environment if:
- The tree farm is responsible to plant multiple trees in the place of the one cut down.
- You are responsible to properly dispose of the tree at the end of the season. There are tree drop off points at city parks around Nashville so they can be properly recycled into mulch. You can even donate your tree to the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN.
- Or if you can afford a tree with the root ball, then it can be re-planted after the holiday.
Check out PickTNProducts to find local tree farms in your area.
200 million pounds of turkey are thrown away after Thanksgiving! To minimize food waste, encourage your family members to bring their own containers so they can take home leftovers. Use the Guest-imator on SavetheFood.com to estimate the amount of food you will need for your feast. Compost the scraps; share or freeze the leftovers. Dining with reusable plates, glasses, and silverware, instead of disposable alternatives, will also help to have a more sustainable feast.
The holiday season is a time of togetherness, love, and celebration. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to a healthier planet. By adopting sustainable practices, we can ensure that the joy of the holidays is shared with future generations as well. Whether it’s through mindful gift-giving, eco-conscious decorations, or sustainable feasting, we can all play a part in holiday sustainability.