Happy (Sustainable) Holidays!
As we get closer to I personally struggle with keeping sustainability in mind during the holiday season. It’s easy to get distracted by our habits around the Holidays- food wasted at Thanksgiving, excess shopping at Christmas, etc.
Although a shift away from consumerism is an overwhelmingly large task, each of us can do our part in making this holiday season (at least a little) less wasteful and more sustainable. Whatever holiday you are celebrating this year, you have the ability to make it sustainable and fun in many accessible ways!
These were the tips that helped me and I hope you find them useful as well:
1. Make your own wrapping paper- or go without
Most wrapping paper we see in stores cannot be recycled because of its shiny coating, meaning that it is most likely ending up in landfills.
Instead, try wrapping presents with newspapers, drawings, old maps or simply a scarf or other cloth.
Here’s a shocking statistic to leave you with: “If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.” –Stanford University
2. Consider your food choices this Thanksgiving
When you’re sitting down for your Thanksgiving feast, think about where your food came from. Major turkey processors rely on artificial breeding to fulfill the demands of U.S. consumers during the holiday season. This includes the artificial insemination, continued breeding of a single hen, and then the harsh treatment of chicks to be bred in preparation for Thanksgiving.
Instead of supporting these corporations, you may want to try buying 1) an organic turkey and 2) focusing on more vegetable-focused dishes
This website provides information about where you can find a local/organic turkey/ham and vegetables near you!
A more veggie-focused dinner will not only challenge you to try new recipes (and maybe start new traditions?) but it will also reduce the environmental impact of your Holiday season overall
3. Get a pesticide-free tree- and recycle it when you’re done!
Buying a local Christmas tree is an easy way that you can avoid purchasing trees coated in pesticides.
This website has amazing information about where you can buy an organic tree, how to care for it, and why a demand for organic christmas trees is so important
When the Holidays have passed and you’re ready to get rid of your tree, recycle it! Most trees end up in landfills despite the fact that many cities have Christmas tree recycling programs, where they turn old Christmas trees into mulch or wood chips.
Find out if there is a program near you: https://realchristmastrees.org/all-about-trees/how-to-recycle/
4. Buy Less
Ok… I know this one seems silly but it really is one of the most effective ways to reduce your footprint and to have a ~sustainable~ holiday season. Instead of buying material goods, I love to give family members experiential gifts, whether that be a concert, a day trip, etc. I know that this gift may be more difficult because of COVID but this gives you a chance to get creative! When COVID started, I gave a family member a gift of a camping/hiking weekend up north, which turned out to be the highlight of the summer (socially distanced of course!).
Some more ideas of experiential gifts: state park pass, a massage appointment, movie tickets, and anything else your loved one would enjoy.
5. If you do purchase new items, try to buy locally
I get it. You can’t get experiential gifts for everyone in your life. And that’s ok! Try buying from local stores or small businesses OR support sustainable companies that you’re ordering from. In both cases, you are supporting smaller-scale businesses that also value sustainability! You can check out one of our previous posts on my favorite sustainable clothing brands for more ideas.
6. Sustainable Entertaining
Paper plates and plastic cutlery are very appealing when hosting- they are very convenient and prevent you from having to do loads of dishes after your Holiday feasts. It’s a win-win, right? Well… not quite. These items add up, leading to an unnecessary amount of waste in landfills.
7. Make Homemade Cards
Homemade cards are a beautiful way to show your appreciation for your loved ones. Most store-bought cards are expensive, while also using a lot of resources for their creation. According to one statistic, “The amount of cards sold in the US during the holiday season would fill a football field 10 stories high, and requires the harvesting of nearly 300,000 trees.”
Yes, homemade cards are less formal, but they are also more meaningful, personal and fun to make. It also makes a great activity to do with siblings, or kids!
I hope these tips give you some inspiration for implementing sustainability into your holiday celebrations, and maybe even helping you start some new traditions.
Here at Cut the Crap, we are wishing you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season!