Although arguably the most wonderful time of the year, Christmastime is a season of over-spending and over-consumption. It is achievable and increasingly necessary, to have a sustainable Christmas. Here are some ideas:
Buy less. Christmas shopping is a common killer on our wallets. However, not all gifts have to be store-bought. Gifts can come in the form of services, experience, and homemade goodies. Childcare, cooking, massages, and coupons for household chores are examples of much appreciated services. Memberships, manicures/pedicures, sports events, local attractions, and concerts make for memorable experiences. Thoughtful, homemade edibles or crafts are always prized by the recipient.
To simplify Christmas lists, the “Secret Santa” tradition has become popular in various households. Before the holiday season begins, names of all the family members are written on separate slips of paper and put in a hat. Each family member takes turns picking one name per adult, and the name you pick is your gift recipient for that Christmas.
Buy Smart. Buying smart means purchasing products that have the least amount of impact on the environment. Buy local products, which require far less pollution-generating transportation. Many quality items can be found at crafts fairs and artisan shops. Choose gifts made from recycled sources. Give battery-free gifts, for discarded batteries are an environmental hazard.
Replant or Recycle Your Christmas Tree. According to Statistics Canada’s report on Christmas tree growers, 40 million trees on average are uprooted each holiday season in North America. This year, try buying a tree that still has its roots intact, then planting it in your yard once it’s served its holiday purpose. Another option is to recycle your tree. When you throw your tree into the trash, it ends up occupying valuable landfill space, whereas recycling turns it into wood chips which can be used to mulch gardens and parks.
Connect with Nature. Start an annual, earth-friendly Christmas tradition, such as a family nature hike, donation to an environmental charity, or a nature restoration activity to connect with nature during the holidays.
Lower the impact of holiday lighting. To lower the impact of holiday lighting, try reducing the size of outdoor lighting displays. Use LED lights. LED holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs, and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. Also, turn tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting at bedtime.
Alternatives to Gift-wrapping. Choose environmentally-friendly wrapping paper, often made using fibers such as hemp, which are widely available in commercial stores. Avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper, which is difficult to recycle. Use tape sparingly, or not at all. Ribbons can be used to hold paper in place. Choose alternatives to commercial gift wrap—gift bags can be made using fabric scraps, or wrapping can be made using comic strips from the paper, old calendars, maps, posters, and more. Always reuse gift wrap when possible! Finally, instead of using traditional paper cards, send your loved ones E-cards to reduce paper waste.
– By Carly