How to Be Eco-Friendly During the Holidays
The holidays are a near magic time of year. From twinkling lights hung with care to cozy nights in with hot cocoa – holiday cheer is like a warm embrace to the soul. But, unfortunately, this season can be rough on the planet.
Americans produce 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. If you’re someone with a heart set on sustainability, this can be a sobering statistic. Luckily, there are ways to mitigate your own waste this holiday season!
Let dive into different ways to incorporate sustainable living into your holiday celebrations!
Tips For Picking Out Earth-Friendly Gifts
Giving and the holiday season go hand in hand! But this can be a tricky feat to pull off sustainably. Here are some great ways to source ethical, eco-conscious gifts this holiday season!
Not only are there an abundance of eco-friendly gifts to choose from on Etsy, you also get to support a small business owner. Buying small is a wonderful way to give back to the planet and your fellow human beings.
Here are some shops to browse:
Cork Culture USA
Cork Culture USA offers an array of items made from cork, one of the most sustainable materials. Cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree without cutting it down. In about nine years, the bark regenerates. Browse Cork Culture USA to shop for anything from shoes to watches.
Andreas Organic Market
A big part of sustainability is being conscious of what ingredients go into your products and how they were sourced. Andreas Organic Market only uses chemical-free, organic, non-GMO, and synthetic-free ingredients to make their products. They’re also sure to package in reusable glass, used recycled paper for their labels, and protect their products with compostable packing peanuts.
Ocean Plastics Eco-Friendly Jewelry upcycles plastic sourced from the ocean into unique, beautiful accessories. They combine eco-resin with marine waste to create their pieces. As an added bonus, they donate a dollar to the Surfrider Foundation for every purchase made!
Shop Vintage or Thrift
Reduce, REUSE, recycle. One of the best ways to gift sustainably is to shop items that might otherwise end up in the landfill. You can always head down to your local Goodwill to hunt down a treasure, but the internet makes shopping pre-loved items a breeze! You know what they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
Here are some great places to start shopping vintage/used online:
Facebook is quickly emerging as a top player in pre-loved shopping. You can shop local or even national through Facebook Marketplace. Users just like you can post their unwanted items –often at a discounted price– to find them a new home. This is a great place to find gently used gifts for your friends and family.
Use An App
Another great place to shop secondhand is through apps. From Mercari to Poshmark, there are plenty of different apps you can browse to shop for gifts this holiday season! Mercari and Letgo are great for a variety of items. Poshmark and ThredUp are aimed more towards clothing.
It can be difficult to see the full potential of a used item when it’s not staged properly. This can diminish the experience of shopping used. Vintage shops on Instagram can be a great alternative for your eco-friendly gift hunt. Their aesthetically pleasing imagery helps breathe life into a pre-loved item and show you its true value!
Shop Sustainable Brands
When shopping for gifts ask yourself, where did these items come from? Where were the materials sourced? How might the production of this item harm the environment? These are all questions sustainable companies aim to address.
A great way to stay green this holiday season is to support companies dedicated to the planet. To avoid greenwashing –or companies that claim to be eco-friendly despite not truly walking the walk– look into the company’s core values. See what they’re doing to be sustainable. Once you narrow down a truly sustainable brand, show support, and consider buying a gift from them!
Gift an Experience or Donation
Instead of gifting a material item, consider giving an experience or donating to a cause on your loved one’s behalf. This is a unique and meaningful way to have a green holiday season this year. You could buy a voucher for a class or trip (redeemable once COVID restrictions are lifted, of course) or perhaps donate to a cause your loved one cares about deeply.
Some Additional Gift Shopping Considerations
- Look for carbon-neutral shipping or shop local
- Plant a tree with Green Earth!
- Consider making your own gift
- Remember to shop ahead of time if you’re ordering online
How To Sustainably Wrap Gifts
According to Earth911, about 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S alone each year. Roughly 2.3 million pounds of it ends up in the landfill. And most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable. That adds up to a lot of waste! One of the best ways to be green during the holiday season is to practice conscious wrapping methods.
Here are a couple of methods to consider:
Fabric can be a great alternative for wrapping presents. And we often have so much of it lying around! You can repurpose old scarves, tea towels, or even t-shirts as wrapping material. They can even double as a bonus gift of sorts!
Use Paper You Already Have
Paper is another material we often have a lot of in our homes already. Newspapers, magazines, and old maps can be a great alternative to traditional gift wrapping. You can also find interesting paper to use for wrapping at thrift stores.
Use White or Brown Craft Paper
White and brown craft paper actually is recyclable! It’s also compostable! Since it’s made of all wood pulp, it’s far easier on the planet than its dyed, laminated counterpart. If you want to stick with what you’re used to, this is a great eco-friendly wrapping paper.
Eco-Friendly Holiday Decoration Guide
Photo Credit: She Keeps A Lovely Home
Decorations can not only be bad for the environment but costly to set aside money for every year! Luckily, there are some eco-friendly swaps that your wallet will appreciate too!
DIY It Up
Making your own holiday decor is a great way to stay sustainable! From dried oranges to salt dough ornaments, there are so many fun ways to DIY decorations. This can also double as a wonderful bonding experience for you and your family.
Thrifting can be a great way to buy cost-efficient decorations as well. There are tons of ornaments, inflatable land figurines, and more available second hand. If you don’t have time to go the DIY route, this is a wonderful alternative.
Is It Better to Go For a Real Tree or Fake One?
If you celebrate Christmas, you know how significant picking out a tree is. But, from an environmentally conscious point of view, it can be difficult to know if it’s best to go with a real or fake tree.
Contrary to what you may think, it’s best to go with a real tree.
I know, I know. Cutting down a tree doesn’t sound eco-friendly. But there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Over 10 million artificial trees are purchased each season. Most aren’t made from recyclable materials so when they inevitably break down, they end up in the landfill. Moreover, it takes a lot of emissions to produce and ship a fake tree.
Real trees, on the other hand, help support local tree farmers and healthy forests. When done mindfully, cutting down trees can actually help maintain a healthy forest. Tree farms double as a habitat for wildlife. And when you pay a permit to cut down a tree in a national forest, you’re helping to support healthy forest management and conservation.
Once the festivities are over, you can recycle your tree!
Have any other holiday gift guide suggestions this year? Leave us a comment and let the community of other environmentally-friendly enthusiasts know!