Celebrate the Holidays Sustainably!

Classes are ending soon, and the winter holiday season is kicking into gear. This time of year brings a lot of excitement, and bit of the stress as we try to juggle travel, parties, and gift exchanges. With everything going on, it can also be easy to overlook the environmental impact of these activities. However, there are a few simple ways that you still practice sustainability during your holidays.

  1. Send e-cards. Cards are often the first item on the to-do list for the holidays. After you have your holiday greeting list together, consider using electronic cards, instead of mailing paper ones. If you still love mailing out cards, buy ones that are printed on recycled paper or that have recycling reminder on them. You might even consider buying fair trade, handmade cards, such as those sold at Ten Thousand Villages.
  2. Give ethically sourced gifts. Speaking of Ten Thousand Villages, they and other merchants have options for fair trade and ethically sourced gifts.
  3. Buy local. You can also consider supporting small local businesses or artists. It takes a lot of energy and fuel to ship goods long distances around the holidays. When you buy local, you can help reduce these emissions while also supporting your local economy…and surprise your friends with unique gifts.
  4. Choose green wrapping. Once you have chosen your gifts, consider your wrapping carefully. Some wrapping paper cannot be recycled, due to the presence of components like foil or glitter. Check with your local municipality or recycling station and ask what types of wrapping paper are accepted in the waste stream and choose carefully. You can also let your creativity shine! Reuse materials such as newspaper. Put your gifts into reusable shopping bags. Take your worn-out clothing or towels, cut them, and tie them around packages; and here is a Craftsy link to get you started.
  5. Use less energy. The holiday decorations are a literal bright spot to the season, and sure to bring happiness to you and your neighbors. However, don’t let them lead to the post-holiday, high-utility bill blues. Use LED lights, which are more energy efficient, and time your lights carefully so that they aren’t burning 24/7. In addition to those two tips, the Department of Energy also suggests searching for rebates and using reflective decor.
  6. Say no to single use party supplies. If possible, try to supply your party guests with reusable dinnerware to avoid creating large amounts of plastic waste. If you are anticipating having a lot of leftovers, and don’t want to waste the food, encourage your guests to bring their tupperware so that they can take them home.
  7. Practice self care. The triple bottom line of sustainability is PEOPLE, planet, and profit. With so much to-do this season, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Go to a local park, because time in nature has been shown to reduce stress levels.

We want to wish everyone a happy holiday season and remind you to have fun and travel safely. These are just a few tips to help you “green” your celebrations. What are some of your ideas? Share them with us below.

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