Here we are again in the midst of the Christmas holiday season and the rush is on for the right gifts, festive decorations for the home, food for the holiday table, and outfits for holiday parties. It is also the time of year for countless published statistics on holiday waste, along with articles and snippets about keeping the Christmas holiday green. So at the expense of sounding mundane, keeping Christmas green lessens the negative impact on our environment and provides a positive example for those loving Christmas the most… children. Keeping an eco-friendly balance on the Christmas holiday season doesn’t have to take the joy out of the celebrations and shouldn’t take much effort to accomplish.
A large portion of holiday waste is product packaging. Opting to buy local greatly decreases the amount of packaging needed. Shopping your local stores with re-usable bags eliminates the use of plastic bags or paper bags otherwise needed to get items home. One step better is to use your re-usable bags and shop a local farmer’s market or craft fairs as chosen items are not in commercial packaging. Gift wrapping too is a consideration in excessive product packing. Rather than wrapping gifts in newly purchased gift wrap, opt for no wrappings and just tie up with natural hemp or flax string, pop in a re-usable bag, or use items around the house that can be recycled. Pieces of fabric like old sheets or pillow cases, newsprint, or old maps, decorated with items like old buttons or ribbon, make interesting gift wrap and support the effort of saving our forests. Plus, kids are so creative and will have fun making their own wrappings. If wrappings are bought, purchase from an eco-friendly store wrapping paper made from recycled paper or sustainable fibers such as hemp.
Plastic has a huge negative impact on the environment and the more we can keep out of landfills the better. Avoid Christmas decorations and gifts made from new plastic or that use any kind of petroleum. There are many more eco-friendly options available. Decorating with ornaments made from recycled paper embedded with wildflower seeds can be planted after the holidays; holiday eco home decor like recycled glass serving trays and dishes add elegance to holiday entertaining while eliminating stress to the environment resulting from new glass production; natural fragrance soy wax candles avoid petroleum, support the American Farmer, and bring a soft holiday glow to any room. Already in possession of a lot of holiday stuff? Don’t toss it just to buy new! Instead get creative and re-use or up-cycle.
Gift giving is the fun part of the holiday season and if you choose wisely you can keep it earth friendly. BPA free recycled plastic toys will bring delight to any child while being safe for their health and the health of the environment; garden boxes with seed paper to plant after the holidays, or live plants, add natural life to outdoor and indoor spaces; and natural skin care products void of the chemicals and preservatives that contaminate waterways, are perfect earth savvy gifts. Consider too, holiday gift giving doesn’t have to be about things, it can be a certificate for an outing or get together, or a promise to help with a chore.
Nothing seems to be in more overabundance during the holidays than food. It is a large part of the holiday season and provides comfort and enjoyment as we sit with family and friends. Take an account of past holiday feasts and you’re sure to admit you can reduce the amount of food on your menu. Fruit, bread, and dairy products are the most common items that get thrown out, so these are a good place to start. If you find that once again you have made an entirely too much food, take it to a food shelter! Feeding the hungry is soul warming, especially during the holiday season, and sets a good example for children. Scraps left from plates can be used to feed animals or added to the compost pile. When shopping for your holiday meal, remember to buy local to avoid excessive packaging, cut down on shipping and fuel costs, and support your local farmers. And for goodness sake, re-usable tableware is the way to go to keep things eco-friendly with the added benefit of a shared family activity… dish duty!
Putting on ‘the Ritz’ is a fun part of the holiday season, but fast fashion items do so much damage to the environment and in many cases are not considerate of workers. Responsible fashion items that are Fair Trade, made from organic and sustainable fibers, or are recycled or up-cycled are considerate of our delicate environment and factory workers. Organic growing methods prohibit the use of any chemicals providing a pure product for consumers with no damage to the environment. Fair Trade items take into account the workers and assure factory conditions are up to par and fair wages are received. For eco-friendly holiday fashions, shop consignment stores for recycled fashions, hold clothes swaps, or re-work a fashion from your closet to minimize negative environmental impact. If not handy, on-line stores offering organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo clothing from green manufactures are the best place to shop holiday fashions. Adhering to green standards for manufacturing, packaging, and shipping, the offered products have a lower carbon footprint.
The Christmas holiday season is a joyous time to spend with family and friends. Just a little bit of thought and consideration toward reducing waste, lowering your carbon footprint, and giving to those less fortunate, sets a good example for children and reduces the negative impact on our environment. So this holiday season as you rush around for decorations, holiday gifts, and party attire, pause to give thought on how lucky we are to have all that Mother Nature offers and plan to put in a little effort to keep it green.