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How to Have an Eco-friendly Holiday Season

by Je
Eco-friendly gift wrapping

Let us all enjoy an eco-friendly holiday season this time around.

There’s not enough time to coax the rest of the world into the bandwagon, but we green-living enthusiasts can do our bit.

All it takes are a few manageable changes. These include buying sustainable gifts from local markets, simplifying our décor, getting organic food, and saying no to disposable dishes.

It’s an opportunity for us to take a load off the environment and saying “thank you” to the planet we call our home. Let’s take it.

Of course, there are many ways to go about this. However, incorporating the endless number of ideas can be overwhelming, especially if you’re starting.

So, here are some basic ideas you can take on board for a sustainable holiday season.

Let us begin with the heart of all good Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers – food!

Mind the Food

Eat healthy illustration

About 40 percent of food produced yearly in America is wasted. Most end up in landfills where they produce methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than CO2.

There is no celebration without a good meal.

And it is possible to prepare a good meal at home with ingredients that are easy to get and do not hurt the environment.

In other words, buy local, eat local.

Locally grown fare is not only great for the planet, but it is also healthier and, if prepared well, as tasty as the stuff you get from outside.

Also, cooking can be fun. Test out your skills; who knows there might be culinary gifts inside you that are waiting to be unleashed. Anyhow, cooking yourself is better than getting something from the market that you have sampled a thousand times.

As for the ingredients, go organic! Fruits, vegetables, meats, or spices, there is nothing more healthy and environment-friendly you can put on the dinner table.

Also, don’t waste your food!

Stay Off Disposable Dishes

Tea and biscuits illustration

American households throw 25 percent more trash during the holiday season than at any other time of the year.

Where there is food, cleaning up afterward is inevitable. That is, if you are the sort to fearlessly meet the challenge of a mini Everest piled up in your sink.

Disposable dishes rid you of this hassle. Toss them in the bin, and that is the end of that. But what’s the cost to the environment if we choose this option?


So, take one for Mother Nature and do the dishes yourself; she will be healthier and happier for it.

And if a full kitchen sink is too much to handle, use biodegradable plates instead.

Or try reusable bottles and cups to control the plastic footprint.

Once the guests leave, clean with natural, preferably homemade, cleaners, which are easy to make and effective. Check out our DIY natural homemade cleaners for ideas.

Buy Sustainable Gifts for an Eco-friendly Holiday Season

Christmas gifts illustration

The holiday season is responsible for the use of 8,000 tons of wrapping paper every year. That’s equivalent to about 50,000 trees!

There’s no perfect green product in the market, but you can buy gifts that have minimal footprint in their production and in their use.

One good way to go about it is to buy gifts that the receiver can use for a long time. Perhaps that will cost a few cents more, but it is any time better than others that are one or two-time use.

Also, there is no rule that you have to buy for every member of the family. Instead, you may get one thought-out gift that benefits the entire family.

Still, the best eco-friendly gifts are the ones that you make yourself. DIYs not only negate the need to buy, but they can also be quite fun and mentally stimulating for those who make them.

Finally, buy from local stores. Some items can be mouth-watering that you will not find in your vicinity but think about the cost of shipping them to you.

About wrapping paper

Another is to substitute wrapping paper, which people are likely to throw away, with gift bags one can use for a long time. If gifts bags are not your thing then use recycled wrapping paper. You can also buy cards made from recycled paper; the trees will be much happier for this choice.

Also, stay away from those shiny wrapping paper, which look great but are impossible to recycle and inevitably end up in the landfill.

Some of the best wrapping ideas are right there under our noses. Old maps, children’s books, comics sections are all fun ways to wrap a gift. Not just for wrapping but old books, in particular, can be a goldmine for creative ideas.

Tip: Cut a sleeve off an old cuffed shirt that you don’t plan to use ever. Stitch up the cut portion and use the cuffed opening to place your gifts. Button the cuffs and use a string to tighten it up.

What about the décor?

Use Sustainable Décor

Sustainable décor illustration

If American households used LED lights instead of regular light strings for the holiday season, there would be enough power saved to run 200,000 homes… for one full year!

Lights are among the most indispensable elements of festive season decorations.

You cannot do without them.

Here, LED lighting comes immediately to mind. These are efficient, energy-conserving, and do not give you a shock with the electric bills.

If you are a candles person, use natural ones and not those fashioned from petroleum-based wax.

And when Santa season comes around, mind the tree. Fake trees look good, but these have a footprint problem in the production stage and also after use when the trees reach the landfill.

So, how about a real tree that can be used as mulch once the holiday season is over? Potted trees are even better, as you can use them for a long time and plant them once you feel the trees have exhausted their value.

Also, sellers are notorious for using tons of pesticides and coloring for Christmas trees so you can try organic trees instead.

And, for a truly eco-friendly holiday season décor, you have to say a big fat no to plastic!

Cut Down on Shopping Trips

Holiday bird with gifts illustration

Vehicles produce one-third of all air pollution in America.

National Geographic

Now we are getting into the nitpicky territory, but this one is also significant.

Get everything you need in one shopping trip. Doing this not only saves you time but also limits your footprint.

If you can, it is best to ditch the vehicle altogether and buy your necessities online.

And if you have been invited to a party, carpool with your friends. This will save you fuel and also protect the environment.

If the guilt remains, there are companies that help offset fuel pollution generated by your travel by helping you to plant trees. Terrapass is one such organization.


Donate This Holiday Season

X-mas father illustration

The holiday season is a time for joy and fun and a chance to spend quality time with loved ones. But it is not the same for everyone.

Many people do not have the basic essentials, and the season offers us a chance to ease their burden.

You can donate clothes, leftover food, or help in other ways. There are plenty of non-profit organizations that are happy to accept your kindness.

Donating is also a wonderful way to teach the younger generation the power of giving and the impact it has on people.

What do you think of our ideas for an eco-friendly holiday season? Have you tried any so far? Let us know in the comments.

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Lauren November 10, 2021 - 10:13 pm

These are some good suggestions to help reduce your carbon footprint and have a more sustainable Christmas. Thank you for sharing your tips!


Je March 24, 2022 - 9:09 pm

Glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, anything for a happier, healthier planet. 🙂

Jaya Avendel November 10, 2021 - 10:51 pm

Love your tips for keeping to sustainable choices and actions during the holiday season, which is a time where many people are more frivolous than usual. It is important to stay intentional through even the spirited times.

I love to use scarves to wrap gifts, but also use gift bags from time to time. I try to save the wrapping paper off the gifts I receive and only use that, and your cuff idea sounds like a fun one to try out!

I do not generally throw big parties, so I am able to keep to real dishes and local foods (we get our turkey from Poly Face Farm too), but I can imagine the amount of disposable dish-ware that gets used this time of year!

Thanks for sharing some lovely reminders and actionable changes for people to keep making and doing. 🙂

Je March 24, 2022 - 9:09 pm

The cuffs are actually a lot of fun and you can do so much with them. Scarves too. I also like smaller parties, find them more meaningful, and a lot less taxing on the environment.

Lalhma November 11, 2021 - 1:54 pm

Important reminders that the season of celebration is not about oneself but about community, and our environment is part of that community. Loved the post!

Je March 24, 2022 - 9:09 pm

True that. Can’t just take care of one and leave the other out. Glad you found the post useful.

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