I love Christmastime as much as the next person. Just because I’m an environmentalist does not mean I don’t love a beautifully wrapped gift! The holidays are a beautiful, fun, and festive time of year, and they also have the potential to wreak havoc on our trash and recycling systems.
Here are a few ways you can be a bit more environmentally conscious over the holiday season:
- Reuse boxes and ribbon. Use old shipping boxes to send gifts to relatives, and collect and save boxes in which you received gifts to give back to others.
- When mailing gifts, you can use paper grocery bags as wrapping for shipping. Just cut the bag so that you can wrap it around the package, and tape it up!
- Put holiday lights on timers so that they don’t use excess electricity.
- Take broken light strands to a recycling facility (some towns may have centers for collection), rather then tossing them into the garbage.
- Take (tinsel free!) Christmas trees to be cut up for wood chips, rather than just leaving it out to be thrown in a landfill.
- Try to avoid glitter! It’s everywhere, and so fun and pretty, but terrible for the environment. It gets all over everything, including waterways, and doesn’t go away.
- Consider gifting experiences rather than things. You could give a ticket to a show, a gift card to a favorite restaurant, make a donation to a charity in the giftee’s name.
- Make gifts meaningful, rather than bunches of excess trinkets.
- Choose sustainable objects, such as organic cotton and other natural, renewable materials, when picking out clothing or other items.
- Decorate with natural materials, too! You can use live garland to garnish a pillar, or pile pinecones in a nice dish. I love to poke cloves into small oranges- a nice decoration, and smells lovely and festive!
- As a gift to yourself, change your lightbulbs to be energy efficient. Not only does it save energy, it will save you money!
- Shop locally and bring your own bag – this reduces the number of boxes used in shipping and decreases emissions from transportation, as well as supporting local businesses.
- If you wrap, reuse and recycle wrapping paper. Any wrapping paper with a matte finish is recyclable! If you can’t recycle it, use it for cards- gift tags, thank you notes, holiday greeting cards.