The winter holidays are upon us, along with the rush of family, food, decorations and gifts that we all look forward to each year. Many people have spent the last several weeks preparing for the festivities through seeking out presents for loved ones, preparing meals and goodies to satisfy even the most fanatic sweet tooth, making travel arrangements to be reunited with family and friends, and decorating households from floor to ceiling.
At The Sustainability Consortium, we like to think that the holiday spirit can be made a little merrier with a few sustainable twists. And a lot of times, being green can save a little green, too. Here are a few ideas to celebrate the joyous season while caring for our earth:
Consider giving an experience for a holiday gift this year, rather than a physical item. Buy your brother concert tickets, or take grandma to a Broadway show. A purchase like this allows for further time spent with your loved ones and can really continue the warm feelings that being with one’s family creates even after the holidays are over.
Other ‘greener’ ways to give this season include:
- Buying locally-made gifts: Contribute to your local economy while reducing your carbon footprint.
- Avoiding presents that use batteries: Batteries, even reusable ones, eventually end up in the waste stream. Avoid this environmental hazard by purchasing gifts that don’t require batteries.
- Don’t be afraid to re-gift: If you truly aren’t going to use a gift, there is no need to let it go to waste. Just be mindful not to offend the original giver, and give it to someone who will really appreciate it.
Be mindful of your wrapping: Recycle old gift bags, bows and paper. Newspaper, especially the comics section, makes a great alternative to regular wrap! Look for environmentally-friendly wrapping paper, such as those made from hemp, as well.
We all love to see neighborhoods bright with a variety of lights and decorations during the holiday season. However, this can be costly when it comes to your utility bill and the impact all of that extra energy has on the environment. Consider LED (Lighting Emitting Diode) lights, which use about 95% less energy than your typical holiday bulbs. Using 500 LED lights over a 30 day period costs about $0.19, a significant cost savings as compared to the $18.00 cost of utilizing traditional lighting. Don’t forget to turn your lights off at bedtime, either. There’s no point in leaving them on if when everyone has gone to sleep!
Consider a real tree this Christmas. While plastic trees can be reused from year to year, they are made of petroleum products and use up resources in manufacturing and distribution. Furthermore, these trees are typically discarded when they become less attractive over time, dooming their plastic content to landfills forever. Living trees are a renewable resource grown on farms and contribute to our air quality. Furthermore, live trees can be recycled into mulch, or if in a pot, replanted!
Ultimately the most important thing to sustain throughout this season is your happiness. Whether you take pleasure in a nature walk with your family or find solace in a roaring fire, we at The Sustainability Consortium wish you the most wonderful holiday imaginable!