While the holiday season approaches, it’s a time when we need to be mindful of how our actions impact every living being. More wastes are being thrown compared to other times during Christmas-New Year! In America, 25% more trash ends up in landfills which means an extra 25 million tons – enough for 5 billion meals on top of all those holidays just sitting around going bad.
So the question is: What can we do to build connections, share experiences and give love during the holiday without harming our environment?
The answer: we need to practice green living during the holidays in everything we do.
Here I will show you 10 tricks that work wonders in our environment.
10 Ways to practice green living during the holidays
Buy a potted live tree
Fake Christmas trees pose more danger to the environment than real ones. It contains non-biodegradable PVC, and some have metal toxins like lead. And, while artificial trees can be reused, most families discard them after they become less attractive. As a result, they end in landfills where they take ages to degrade.
While cut trees are better than artificial ones, it poses a danger to the forest cover. So, the best way to practice green living during this holiday is to buy a potted live tree. You can then reuse it 2- 3 three times, and once fully grown, you can plant it in your garden.
Deck the halls with energy-efficient lights such as LED and solar-powered
The twinkling lights used to deck the halls are a magical way to celebrate the Christmas season. But, it wastes a lot of energy if not well thought of! Imagine the light up in every home and local malls during the holiday and equate that to electricity cost. Despite the magic it brings, there is a lot of waste from it. Yet, we can still sustainably enjoy the décor.
The best thing is to buy LED lights that consume 95% less energy compared to traditional bulbs. Better yet, go for solar-powered bulbs that mean zero cost on your side.
You can also lower the effect of lighting during holidays by:
- Turning off outdoor house decorative lighting and tree lights during bedtime
- Use outdoor mini-lights
- Cut down the displays of outdoor lighting
Gifting during a holiday is one way to connect and appreciate our loved ones. But, there is a better way to do it without harming the environment. Do the following:
Buy locally made gifts
Have you ever thought of the impact of transportation of gift items around the world? The emissions contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect and global warming, not forgetting the cost of transportation that you will bear by buying imported gifts. To go green, buy gifts from artisan shops and local craft fairs and help spread the amazing stories behind them.
Go for ‘battery-free gifts
As per Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 40% of total batteries sold happen over the festive season. These batteries are eventually discarded and find their way to waste streams, thus posing a risk to the environment. So, for this holiday, go for battery-free gifts such as naturally powered toys to reduce the impact on our planet.
Send holiday cards online or go for recyclable ones
The holiday cards dating back to the 1800s are one of the wasteful gifts as over 2.65 million pieces are sold each year in the U.S. alone. This means around 300,000 trees are cut annually to make the cards. Going digital is, therefore, the best way to significantly reduce waste. This holiday, buy eGift cards and send them online to family and friends. It has the same effect as enveloped card but, more eco-friendly.
If you prefer the physical feel, then go for recycled holiday cards. You can get such cards from Tree-Free Greeting who prints 100% recyclable papers, which saves 75K pounds of solid waste, 1,078 million BTUs of energy, 1,121,858 gallons of water, 2,405 mature trees, and 206K pounds of greenhouse gas emission. Besides, their by-products are less harmful as they meet Process Chlorine Free (PCF) standards.
Re-gift what you don’t need
Many times we receive gifts from our loved ones that we actually do not need. It doesn’t mean the present is bad, but re-gifting makes more sense than just keeping it. You need to be cautious not to upset the original giver, but passing it to someone else is okay.
Opt for plastic-free packaging or recyclable wraps
Green gifting doesn’t end in what’s in the box; the packaging also matters. In fact, in the US, the packaging wastes total to over 4 million tons per year. This is a total disaster to our planet. If all of us can opt for recyclable wraps, we could significantly reduce the impact on our planet. This festive season use plastic-free packaging or recyclable wraps and be the champion the world needs for environmental conservation!
Say no to food waste and single-use plates
Americans throw away 52 billion pounds of food, accounting for 25% of the total foodstuff they purchase per year. Avoid being part of the statistics by saying no to food waste. Package leftovers with reusable plates and send them home with your guests. And, if they are too full for the wraps, give to organizations that would accept food remains to support the needy.
The single-use cups, plates, utensils, and napkins further worsen the impact on the environment during the festive season. Families host large parties and use throw-away dishes to avoid the cleanup needed. But, think for a moment. Isn’t it better we sacrifice our time to wash than destroy the future generation? Use easy to clean and store reusable plates such as stainless steel pint glasses and bamboo.
And, for the drinks, buy those packaged in reusable and recyclable bottles instead of single-use. Better yet, you can create your fizzy holiday drinks and serve your guests in reusable water bottles or cups.
Drive an electric car
Fuel-powered transport means contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. You can help the situation by driving an electric car, at least during the festive season. The many trips you make between parties and stores make the electric vehicles a big save during the holiday.
Processed food contains artificial ingredients that are harmful to the planet and your health. To live healthily and protect the environment, go for clean unprocessed food this coming holiday. Plant-based products are the best choices, but some are better than others. For instance, you can munch more oats than almonds as it grows well without the need for irrigation.
Use organic or beeswax candles
No matter how small a candle may look, when burnt, it contributes to poor air quality. The paraffin ones release carcinogens when burnt, potentially harming your health and the environment. Instead, use organic or beeswax candles that provide a fantastic ambiance and soothing effect without the nasty smoke and soot residue. Plus, the candles do not release carcinogens like toluene and benzene.
Choose proper fuel for your fireplace
The warmth and coziness of the fireplace are unarguable what makes nighttime with loved ones memorable. It is one thing embraced by many families during festivities. But, do you know it can cause unintentional problems to the environment? Without the proper fuel, the fireplace can emit dangerous pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Avoid treated, painted, or wet wood and instead use dried season ones for cleaner fire. Hardwoods such as beech, oak, ash, and maple outperform softer fir and pine. Also, do the routine cleaning and inspection of the venting system and fireplace to ensure air quality at all times.
Set goals in line with green living during the holiday
As you pursue to practice green living during the holiday, the feeling of being ‘left out’ might get to you. To avoid this, set the goals and share them with your loved ones. Make a list of your ‘green gift’ shopping and holiday celebration and stick to it. Also, talk to your loved ones and know the kind of gifts they need. By doing so, you avoid your gift being re-gifted or getting into the landfills.
Connect with nature to instill green living in your children, friends, and society at large
The holidays are the best bonding time with your family and friends. The best way is to spend time outdoors to connect with nature and teach your loved ones the need to practice green living. Here is what you can do:
Engage in nature restoration activity
Plant trees together with your loved one to offset the cut Christmas trees and show value to nature. You can also spend time doing beach cleanups and afterward enjoy some activities there.
Go for family nature hikes
A family hike is the best way and time to have a conversation with the kids about green living. Let the children appreciate nature by taking them out for a walk. Use reusable water bottles during the hike as another way to protect the environment.
Engage in environmentally friendly activities at home
Decorate a living tree in your compound to double up as your Christmas tree. You can place seed trays, peanut butter to attract the birds. The kids will enjoy the great activity, and you should take an opportunity to instill in them the value of conserving the environment.
Green living after the holiday
After you have done your best to practice green living during the festive season, you can do other things to keep up the spirit. There is stuff to get rid of, and you can do the following to avoid harming the environment:
● Compost unwanted food
If there are food remains, do not throw them into the dust bin as they will end in landfills. Instead, compost them in your backyard or engage the services of a commercial compost facility.
● Reuse decorations
Keep the decorations you used during this holiday for the next time. You can reuse items such as Christmas trees to reduce the impact on the environment.
● Recycle the recyclable items
If you use recyclable cups, plates, or utensils, then send them to recycling companies.
● Sell or donate any gifts you don’t need
People tend to surprise us with gifts without asking what we need. If you received gifts that aren’t useful to you over the holiday, donate to charitable organizations or resell to make them valuable.
● Freeze leftovers
There are millions of people who starve around the world. So, instead of throwing the leftovers, freeze them and later donate to an organization that supports the needy.
Protecting the environment while on holiday
If you plan to go out this upcoming holiday, be environmentally conscious. Here are some of the things you can do to protect the environment while enjoying your time out:
Always turn off the water taps
Just because you do not pay the bills doesn’t mean you leave the water running. Always turn off the taps whether you are the one who opened them or not.
Reduce waste by sorting them accordingly
In every park and holiday destination, there is always a recycling point. Do not make the work of the dirt collectors too hard. Sort your waste and place them accordingly at designated places. Put the recyclables at recycling points.
Save energy by turning off lights
Whenever you step out of your holiday accommodation room, switch off the lights. Also, use the heating equipment sensibly.
If possible, hire an electric car to use during your travels. And, if not, share vehicles with friends and loved ones to reduce air pollution. For local holiday destinations, consider using public transport as a way to reduce environmental pollution.
Use reusable water bottles
We tend to take a lot of water while out due to physical activities. So, this holiday, carry reusable water bottles to reduce the number of plastics in the landfills.
Key Insights & Takeaways
Protecting the environment means taking every opportunity to keep it safe now and for future generations. During this holiday, practice green living by incorporating the tricks we have mentioned here. It is not up to them; it is up to you and me to protect the environment in our little or big way and leave positive footprints for years to come!