Every year the world takes bigger and bigger steps toward using renewable resources. Solar panels, wind turbines, and even recycling incentives, but what are we doing about the holiday season? A study at Stanford showed that in the US alone, the holiday season (Thanksgiving-New Years) produces 25% more waste. That’s 25 million tons of extra garbage, or about 1 million tons per week! But don’t lose hope, we can all do our part in helping this number decrease!
Here are 5 ways to enjoy a green Holiday Season:
Each year billions of holiday cards are sold. If we each sent one card less, we could save 50,000 cubic yards of paper! In lieu of a paper card, consider sending an e-card! This is a great way to still send holiday cheer without wasting paper to do so, especially for big businesses who will sometimes send out cards to whole communities and other businesses. If you don’t find e-cards personal enough, why not make your own card? Re-use materials from around the house and send a card that means that much more because it’s hand-made!
- Shopping Locally
Support your community and economy by shopping at small stores rather than big box companies. Extra credit if you can find gifts that are not only locally sold but also locally made!
- Using Sustainable Materials
What about that toy that the kids just HAD to have? Use sustainable wrapping paper! Fabric, newspaper, brown paper bags from the grocery store, or even old gift bags you won’t use. You can even make the wrapping personal for the receiver: your kid’s drawings for the grandparents, an outdated map for your sister who loves to travel, recipes from an old cookbook for the family chef….the sky is the limit! Consider re-using old ribbon as well. If each family reused just 2 feet of ribbon the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet!
- Energy-Efficient Lighting
Who doesn’t love seeing the glow of the Christmas tree at night, or driving around the neighborhood looking at all the brightly decorated houses? I know I do! Did you know that one set of Christmas tree lights, left on for 10 hours a day, for the 12 days of Christmas produces enough carbon dioxide to inflate 64 party balloons? LED lights can help! They still give a beautiful light but use 80% less energy than your conventional tree lights. Solar powered lights can also soak up enough light during the day to light up the tree all night long. But why stop there?! Energy saving bulbs use a quarter the electricity and last longer than a standard bulb! Switch out all the bulbs in your house and save all year long!
When throwing a party for your friends and family, use real dishes rather than disposable, you could even go to the local thrift store and put together your own eclectic set. Use cloth table covers and napkins and wash them with cold water when you’re finished. There’s even a company in Finland that has started an anti-waste campaign called Kinkkutemppu, or “Ham Trick.” They are taking unwanted fat from Holiday Hams and converting it into renewable diesel.There are many more options for making your Holiday Season more green. The important thing is to have fun making your eco-friendly decisions and don’t forget that one small change made by many different people, can make a big difference.“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa