The holiday season gives you a chance to share joyful experiences with your friends and family. However, it’s easy to overlook the negative impact the holiday season brings to the environment, from wasteful wrapping paper to needless energy consumption. Through simple changes, you can reduce your own impact and still have a merry holiday season.
1) Rethink Your Gifts
Completely changing your old gift-giving habits can help save the environment. First, think carefully about the environmental impact of each gift that you plan to buy. If a gift comes with a wasteful amount of packaging, consider purchasing an alternative gift instead. In addition, don’t feel pressured to buy a new gift from a store for each person on your list. If you’re skilled at a particular handicraft, such as pottery, consider making your own gifts. Also consider gifts that help the environment, such as adopting a tree in the rainforest or giving a gift to an environmental non-profit in a friend’s name.
After you have purchased your gifts, don’t rush out to buy new wrapping paper. Save gift bags and high end shopping bags throughout the year and embellish them with materials from around your home. You can use paint, buttons, ribbons and other crafting supplies to decorate your homemade packaging.
2) Decorate with the Environment in Mind
Your festive decorations should reflect your commitment to protecting the environment. Start by replacing your old Christmas lights with LED lights. These modern Christmas lights will reduce your energy consumption and still look fabulous on your home and tree. You can use an electric timer to make sure your lights are only on for a few hours each night.
Unless you already have enough decorations to reuse this year, you may need to add a few decorations to your collection. Instead of buying new decorations at the store, try to come up with your own ideas. A walk through your backyard or local park may yield tree branches and pine cones you can use in wreaths and garlands. You can also create your own decorations with paper and fabric.
3) Holiday Card Alternatives
If you normally send out hundreds of holiday cards to your family and friends in all corners of the world, consider taking a different approach this year. For relatives who live thousands of miles away, you can send out digital cards that will save you money and help the environment. For those loved ones who live closer to you, think about making your cards with materials you already own. By using old magazines, calendars and wrapping paper, you can make festive holiday cards in an afternoon of fun.
4) Reuse and Recycle
During the holiday season, you’ll likely need to dispose of a large amount of trash. However, you should try to recycle or reuse anything you can. For example, if you carefully open your presents, you can save the wrapping paper and bows to use next year. Old gift boxes are useful no matter the season. If you can’t find a use for old packaging, make sure to properly recycle it. You can also avoid accumulating waste simply by shopping wisely throughout the season. Take your own shopping bags to the store, and avoid buying gifts with excessive amounts of packaging.
5) Plan Your Meals
In addition to paper and plastic waste, you may end up with some food waste during the holidays. If you plan out each of your holiday parties in advance, however, you can avoid buying too much food. Start your approach by making a list of the food you need for each party. If you end up with too much food after a party, consider bagging up small portions to give away to the guests. You can also store the leftovers in your fridge to eat later.
About the Author
This article was written by Philip J Reed on behalf of the Redstone College Wind Energy Technology Degree program.
*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*