The holiday season is all about family, love, gifts, and making memories. Yet all this merriment has an enormously negative environmental impact. In the few weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the United States creates an additional 5 million tons of waste. The good news? The holidays don’t have to harmful for the environment. Follow these five easy ways to maximize your holiday joy while minimizing your carbon footprint.
One of the easiest and simplest ways to ensure a more eco-friendly holiday is by shopping locally. You not only minimize the travel (and costly gas and energy that go with it), but you support your community and local economy–and you get the pleasure of knowing your gifts are unique, rather than the mass-produced cookie-cutter variety.
Use LED lights
Many people love decorating their homes for the holidays, and most of them rely on a lot of festive, twinkly lights. Rather than nix them altogether, opt for energy-efficient LED lights, which are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting.
Send electronic cards
Many of us look forward to giving and receiving cards during the holidays. From an environmental perspective, electronic cards are vastly superior because their electronic submission is much more green than conventional cards, which damage the environment not only through their delivery, but afterwards, as well: more than 1 billion cards wind up burnt or in the landfill. If you must send traditional cards, opt for those made with recycled paper.
Recycle your Christmas tree
Some people opt for artificial trees which will last for years to come, but most of us prefer live trees. If you buy a live tree, make sure it’s locally grown and harvested. Likewise, don’t simply throw it out so that it can take place alongside the millions of trees that are thrown away–contact your local city government for info on city pick up. Or better still, take the tree to your local garden center and have it chipped for ground cover or mulch!
Use eco-friendly wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is frequently used once and then tossed into the trash. Instead, try alternatives like gift bags or cloth tote bags, which are more likely to be reused. You can also use brown paper grocery bags that can be hand stamped and decorated. If all else fails, make sure you buy recycled wrapping paper for your gifts.
With just a bit of preparation, you can ensure your holidays are merry for you and the planet.