One of the last things on most people’s minds is how wasteful the holidays can be. Wrapping paper, massive amounts of food that might be wasted, electricity to run the lights. A lot of the activities and decor we have and cherish could be what makes Christmas bad for the environment.
But don’t fret! This is not a post about how you should do away with all Christmas traditions and say bah humbug to the holidays! I just wanted to share a few ideas on how you can do things differently so we can have a greener Christmas and a greener planet.
- Recycle or upcycle wrapping paper
Remember wrapping your textbooks in brown paper bags to protect them? You can do the same for your presents! If you are like me and don’t use paper or plastic at the store and use canvas bags, you can always buy brown kraft paper as well. Too plain? Try adding twine, stamps, stickers, doodles, fake foliage pieces, etc. Christmas can be Christmas without the glittery non-recyclable paper.
- Alternative Christmas trees
Oh here she goes, now we can’t have trees either. A potted tree can last you years and years and be decorated for every season! There are even artificial trees made from cardboard or wood that can replace a live tree and you can buy pine scent to have to “real tree” experience, without chopping down trees and throwing them away.
If you wish to use a live tree, and you most certainly can, recycle it when the season is over! You can also recycle artificial metal trees as well.
Even though plastic trees can be used for years, buying live is actually the better option since we have Christmas tree farms that plant the trees for every year. Plastic trees use PVC and other nonrenewable resources and energies to make. If buying artificial, make sure the materials used and sustainable and recyclable.
- Decorate with nature
You can harvest pine cones, holly, pine boughs, conkers, oranges, whatever to decorate your house with. Then add what you can to the compost and the rest will biodegrade! Plastic decorations will last years, but they all wind up in the same place eventually: the landfill. So create your own decorations using nature.
- Reusable partyware
If you are throwing a holiday party, skip the disposables! Plastic and paper cutlery and dishes just wind up laying in a landfill. If you buy reusable, you can get cute dish sets and reuse them for years to come. You can also reduce waste by not serving “individual” drinks and making big pitchers to pour into glasses.
- Timer lights
Save energy and money by putting your lights on a timer. There is no reason for your lights to be on all day and night. There are also lower-energy light options that won’t zap your electricity and spike your electricity bill. Also, don’t just throw the lights you have away! Replace the bulbs that have burnt out.
Before each holiday season, especially since they all fall before the new year, I like to get rid of the old to make some room for the new. But I don’t throw everything away! Donate your clothes and other unwanted items to charity. Anything that is not broken should not just be thrown away. Donate, sell, find a friend. Someone will want it or make use of it.
This is actually something new I learned while writing this. Candles made with beeswax, soy, or vegetable wax are better to burn than petroleum-derived paraffin. I guess I never knew what wax truly was! Avoid this crude oil-made product and try to get greener options. They will still scent your home the same.
- Christmas is not about “the stuff”
It’s easy to get lost in wishlists and think about all the stuff you want or want to give to have the biggest and best Christmas ever. But everything can still be merry and bright with less. Think about what others really want or need when buying gifts. Instead of buying excess, which may wind up being thrown away within a year or two, think about what would really matter to the person or make deals with your friends and family to only buy a certain amount of gifts for everyone.
- Recycle electronics
If you aren’t going to use it anymore or if it doesn’t work properly, recycle the parts. Many parts can still be used or made into something else. Electronics can be recycled! Or if it still works, but you just don’t have the room for it, donate, sell, or give away.
These of course are only a few options when it comes to making Christmas greener. There are many other things you can do, but I decided to keep it simple for those who wanted to take some baby steps. It can be hard to just suddenly become green and it can be overwhelming, especially around the holidays.
So take the steps you can and feel good about helping the environment while you celebrate the holidays.
Anyone have any other ideas? I’d also love to see any natural decorations or DIY gift-wrapping! Tweet me @renadeer using #GreenChristmas.
I got my ideas and information from these sources: