‘Tis the season to be sustainable. Between November - January, there are many exciting holidays to celebrate with the ones you love. The less exciting aspect, however, is the fact that during these holidays, due to excess food, garbage and packaging waste, there are more than 1 million additional tons per week that go to landfills across North America. Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of green this year by building new holiday traditions that are sustainable.
Going green won’t take away the joy of the holidays. Oppositely, it can be a fun challenge for you to minimize your impact. If you’re getting a tree, can you head to a local farm? A real tree from a nearby farm is your most eco-friendly option, as they are biodegradable and can be recycled for mulch, bird feed, and more. Following the holidays, local recycling programs will collect it curbside, or you can drop it off, or opt for a non-profit to collect it. Or opt for an already potted tree from a local business, that you can then plant outside afterwards. When adorning your tree, use thrift, handmade, or recycled ornaments.
For this year’s menorah, opt for a handmade one that the whole family can create, or check out recycled ones. Or invest in a timeless menorah that you know will be passed down for generations. Be conscious in your candle selection as beeswax, soy, vegan candles are greener options and less toxic. Skip the plastic dreidel and instead roll a sustainable one made of clay, bamboo, wooden, or stainless steel or make your own.
Decorating your home is always a highlight. This year, source locally made or thrifted trimmings. You could create a garland from dried fruit or recycled corkscrews. Use nature for a level of depth, gathering wood, pinecones, or shells you could paint. Host a holiday swap with your friends for traded items. For wreaths, loop together old cards, corks or colorful dried flowers.
Delicious food is the highlight of the holidays. This year, think local. Opt for seasonal vegetables, visit your local butcher (though reducing your meat consumption is hugely positive on the environment) and the farmer’s market. Flex your green thumb with a herb garden or join a local community garden. Just buy what you need, portioned, and weighed to avoid food waste. If you do have waste, compost, or donate.
Earth911 estimates that 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper waste are produced yearly, with half ending up in a landfill. Instead, opt for wrapping cloth, reusable gift bags, baskets, painted newspaper, or repurpose used wrapping paper. What goes in the wrapping should be something intentional. Firstly, consider shopping locally or make something sentimental yourself! Remove the idea that it must be a “thing,” and consider experiences: concerts, spa trips, cooking classes, or museum membership. E-gift cards are a great way to gift experiences. Or give the gift of tree planting, adopting an animal, or giving a donation in your friend's name.
Whatever it is you celebrate, make it special by going green! What sustainable practices will you try this year?