We all enjoy the holiday season marked by hot cocoa, nostalgic movies, and family gatherings. However, we don’t often think about the environmental implications of our traditions. Gift shopping, Christmas tree chopping, and decorative lighting are just a few of this seasons activities that negatively affect our natural world. While the increased consumption shouldn’t be ignored, environmentalists need not lose all hope. There are a variety of ways one can still enjoy winter festivities while doing little harm to our planet.
1. Make your gifts or support small business
While the massive sales at large department stores will be difficult to ignore on Black Friday, keep in mind the environmental implications of such products. Energy and resources were needed to produce, package, and transport every item on the store’s shelves. With an increase in shopping worldwide, the production of these goods increases dramatically to support demand. Making your own gifts or choosing to shop at small/local businesses reduces the demand for these goods. In addition, your gift will surely be more unique than a mass produced alternative.
2. Replace wrapping paper with old newspapers
If thinking about the number of gifts given each holiday season is overwhelming, consider the amount of paper used to wrap each and every one of them. One way to keep with the tradition of wrapping your presents but still be “green” is to re-use old newspapers. The thick paper used for your local newspaper works well for wrapping gifts and is usually readily available. Using newspapers also allows the wrapper to be more creative because they can use different parts of the newspaper (the Comic section is a favorite of many).
3. Re-use boxes from previous years
Each year, people buy new gift boxes for wrapping and exchanging clothing and other things that are odd to wrap without a box. Instead of buying more boxes that you will eventually give away, but inevitably receive again from other gift-givers, you can simply reuse boxes from previous years. After your gift opening ceremonies have ended and cleanup has begun, fold and store these boxes alongside your other holiday decorations.
4. LED tree lights
According to the blog, Earth Easy, households can have outrageous savings by switching from traditional lights to LEDs. These Light Emitting Diodes use 95% less energy than regular lights, costing you only $0.19 over a month long period instead of $18. Earth Easy explains that not only are LEDs more efficient, but if one light goes out, the rest of the strand remains lit.
5. Compost your tree
When your tree begins to wilt, resist the urge to lay it on your curbside for the trash collectors to remove. Instead, find a local municipal operation to compost your tree for you. By repurposing your old conifer, you can help improve soil quality and maintain the natural cycle of decomposition.
While you may be thinking that changing your habits for just one season won’t make a difference, you are mistaken. Remember, your actions have global consequences, both positive and negative. We can all chose to continue to blindly follow destructive habits, or we can decide to make ecologically responsible and sustainable choices during our holiday season.