As we decorate, travel, give gifts and feast this holiday season, we will be consuming large amounts of energy and resources, and creating large amounts of waste. Consider the impact your holiday actions are having on the environment.
The holiday season offers plenty of opportunities to go green - from holiday decorations to lighting and gifts for your family and friends. Here are 15 ways to green your holidays,
Bring a reusable bag when out shopping. Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills and polluting the environment every year.
Think "green" while shopping. Buy items with minimal packaging and/or made from recycled materials. Check product labels to determine an item's recyclability. Consider a product's durability and longevity before you buy.
Send e-cards. Almost 3 billion Christmas cards are sold in the US every year. Sending electronic holiday cards is a simple way to reduce waste. There are many great websites that offer personalized e-card options. If you prefer the traditional route, look for cards printed on recycled paper.
Make your own gifts and gift tags. Homemade gifts are more thoughtful, and often more practical, than something store bought.
Give experiences, not things. Movie tickets, gas cards, date night gift certificates and staycation options all make perfect, and much appreciated, gift alternatives.
Donate to a charity in someones' name. Donate a monetary amount or new or gently used toys/items that you no longer use.
Wrap gifts in recyclable items, such as newspaper and magazines. Add a creative touch with stamps or recycled yarn/ribbon. Save wrapping paper, bows, ribbon and tissue to reuse the following year. Can't save it? Make sure to review the list of recyclables that your city accepts first.
Skip the artificial tree. Use a live potted tree which can be planted outside later, or a cut tree from a Christmas tree farm.Nearly all cut Christmas trees are grown on farms, which means their stock is replenished yearly and forests aren't depleted. Artificial trees are made with petroleum-based materials and are often shipping thousands of miles before they reach store shelves. After Christmas, donate your tree to a program that will chip the tree and use in local parks.
Take inventory of your holiday decor. Do you really need anything new? If you do, take a visit to a second hand store. You'd be surprised what you can find.
Use LED holiday lights on a timer. LED lights are more efficient than traditional Christmas lights and last longer, saving you money and energy. Also, place lights on a timer. Leaving your holiday lights on 24 hours a day is a waste of energy and money. Set your timer to turn the lights on at dusk and off when you go to bed. No one is up in the middle of the night to see them anyways.
Reusable place settings. If you are playing host, set the table with cloth napkins and reusable dishes, glassware and stemware. Consider renting more formal place settings that you may not have or use very often. Save and reuse decor and favours. After dinner, fill your dishwasher to capacity before running it.
Pack up or compost leftovers. Pack up leftovers in reusable containers for your guests, or use your leftovers in a new recipe. Does your city have a green bin? Make sure to put any appropriate food scarps in the compost.
Buy local. Support small local businesses instead of shopping at large box stores. Gifts found at locally are often more unique, less expensive and have travelled less of a distance to reach you.
Carpool to holiday parties. Traveling during the holidays? Consider taking public transit or carpool with friends and family to save on gas, money and emissions.
Rethink your wardrobe. Do you really need a new holiday dress, or can you wear your dress from last year? Dig into your closest and wear what you already have, rather than purchasing new.
Don't wait until the new year to make an eco-friendly resolution. Start by making responsible decisions this holiday season.