Whether you’re a Clark Griswold or an Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s that time of year again: the holiday season is upon us.
Even those of us who try to live a greener, more eco-conscious lifestyle have a tendency to abandon ship and surrender to the flow of unabashed consumerism and waste in the name of “just getting it done.” It’s hard to put added pressure on ourselves to be mindful of our environmental impact when there are gifts to be purchased, cards to be sent, stockings to be hung, and photos of dogs in Santa hats to be taken.
But you don’t need to do it all to have an impact.
Find one or two ways to improve your holiday traditions by making them greener. Perhaps pick the ones that justify you doing less work in the name of the environment (Reusable bags instead of gift wrap? Yes please). Think of it as a gift to Mother Earth or humanity, or as a way to further annoy that aunt who just can’t understand why on earth you would want use cloth diapers. Sigh.
Here are some ideas, tips, and tricks to help you be just a little more sustainable this holiday season:
- Using ENERGY STAR® qualified LED lights reduces energy use by 90 percent compared to traditional Christmas lights. They also are more durable and last longer.
- Turn off all lights outside and inside (including on the tree) during the day. Better yet, put your lights on timers so you can set it and forget it.
- Get your Pinterest on and decorate with nature and forget the petroleum-based plastic and synthetic decorations. Some nice ideas include filling your vases with pine cones, acorns or colorful leaves, or using the cork of a wine bottle you will be serving to create unique upcycled place settings.
Gifts and Wrapping
- Baskets and tote bags are great packaging options that can be reused and upcycled.
- Use soft wrapping items to package your presents. These could include scarves, blankets, or towels that can also be used as part of your gift.
- Choose local stores and locations where there are a variety of shops close together. This will reduce your carbon footprint and minimize the time spent traveling.
Cooking and Hosting
- Turn down the thermostat when you have guests. The extra bodies in the house will generate warmth that will allow you to reduce energy usage for heating.
- Try to avoid extra energy use by cooking several dishes that require the same temperature at the same time. Oven safe racks with multiple tiers will be your best friend this holiday season. This way you can simultaneously reduce prep time and energy use.
- Do your best to purchase locally sourced produce, poultry and meat. Use your own tote bags to reduce packaging waste.
- Compost your kitchen scraps. Composting reduces the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfills. Moreover, composting reduces greenhouse gas emissions (namely methane), caused by decomposition of organic matter. You will also have great fertilizer for your spring plantings.
I try to keep in mind one of my favorite sayings, which depending on the Google search you perform is roughly, “perfect is the enemy of progress.” And if all else fails, there are always New Year’s resolutions to be made.
Wishing you a happy, safe, and relaxing holiday season!