The holidays are a wonderful time, during which we can slow down, enjoy time with those we love, and participate in numerous traditions and activities. However, the holiday season is responsible for enormous amounts of packaging waste, the carbon costs of shipping presents all over the world, in addition to the impact of greatly increased travel both by car and by plane. Amidst all the chaos and fun, it’s easy to not worry about being eco-friendly because it often feels like it’s impossible with all the gifts and meals, it’s too much extra work, or it will get in the way of enjoying friends and family. While the holidays are a challenging time for prioritizing sustainability, it is possible to be eco-friendly in both your gifts and festivities while still having an enjoyable and rewarding holiday season. In fact, it might be the best one you’ve ever had!
Minimize wrapping paper and packaging
Every year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of wrapping paper, holiday cards, and other paper packaging and decorations end up in landfills following the holiday season. This is an easy area to reduce the amount of waste that your household creates while celebrating the holidays. One way is to reuse bags and wrapping paper every year. It’s easy to collect and store an assortment of holiday bags and wrapping paper after all the presents have been opened, and it means you won’t have to throw everything away and buy new wrapping supplies next year. This saves money and cuts down on unnecessary waste. You can also repurpose newspapers and shopping ads to wrap presents, or any other packaging material that you may have accumulated during the year. This means you don’t have to buy wrapping supplies, and you’re able to reuse something that would just be thrown away or recycled anyway. There are a number of creative ways to wrap and disguise presents, that don’t have to involve single use wrapping paper. It’s a great area to get creative and have fun!
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Opt for a real Christmas tree
One of the most beloved holiday traditions is setting up and decorating the Christmas tree. For many people, it wouldn’t be the holidays without a Christmas tree being the centerpiece of their celebrations. While it’s easy to skip buying a real tree for the convenience of an artificial tree, it’s much better for the environment to go out and get a real tree. Trees that have been responsibly grown and harvested are much healthier for the environment than buying an artificial tree that will end up as a heap of plastic in a landfill in a couple of years. Plus, you get the benefit of having that authentic Christmas tree smell and the fun of picking out your tree yourself. It’s a great tradition to start that’s fun and great for the planet.
Avoid single-use dishes and utensils
With all the celebrations and gatherings that the holidays season entails, it’s easy to opt for convenience and use disposable plates, cups, and utensils, to avoid having to wash dishes at the end of a gathering. While using them may save on a few minutes of cleaning, disposable utensils and dishes are a huge contributor to the waste created during the holidays. Many of the disposable options available are not easily recyclable, especially when they are covered in food waste. It also adds to the financial costs of the holidays when you have to buy new disposable items for every meal or gathering. Using things like cloth napkins along with the plates and utensils that you have is a great way to save money and cut down on waste and it makes for a much more enjoyable experience then trying to balance a full Christmas dinner on a flimsy plastic plate.
Use EcoCart when ordering presents
The holiday season always involves ordering presents online. This is a fast and convenient way to avoid all the holiday lines and traffic of shopping in person and often means you have a much better selection so that you can get everyone on your list the perfect gift. However, all of those orders and shipments can add up to having a significant carbon footprint, in addition to creating a lot of waste. The best way to offset these negative effects, is to install the EcoCart chrome extension and use it on all your gift purchases this season. EcoCart is a simple and convenient way to offset the carbon footprint of any order that you place with a participating web site. Just install the extension and look for the green button to pop up anytime. Press the button and then rest easy that your order is now carbon neutral, at no extra cost to you.
Everyone looks forward to the holidays, whether you enjoy the lights and decorations, the time to reconnect with family and friends, or maybe just the presents. Despite the busyness of the season, we all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce the amount of waste we create and the carbon footprint that we leave behind. There are a number of ways that this can be accomplished, that are simple and easy steps to take. Being more eco-friendly doesn’t have to involve dramatic overnight lifestyle changes that uproot years of family tradition It all starts with the small decisions that we make every day that add up to big change.