There's more green that occurs naturally in the earth than other colors. Green is a color anyone can experience just by looking outside. And green is a color of the holiday season. And money. These are all good things. Environmental responsibilities seem to get lost in the chaos of holidays. As a matter of fact, Environment911.org reports that the U.S. produces 25 percent more waste between Turkey Day and New Year's Eve— so during the holiday season we become a nation of EXCESS.
This year, let’s all resolve not to get caught up in worries about relatives, décor, gifts, and holiday parties that we forget about the environment being a priority. Make your holiday red, and even more green, by making simple and responsible substitutions like recycled gift wrap and using an artificial Christmas Tree— a great time saver!
Below are some tips for cutting back waste this holiday season.
Offset Carbon Footprints
If you plan to travel a lot during the holidays, offset your carbon emissions with donations. Carbonfund.org has a tab to calculate your full shopping basket and carbon footprint; or gift an offset with an eCertificate.
Make a donation to an environmental charity instead of meaningless spending this holiday. Substitute a contribution for a family gift and décor item; or make a tradition out of donating to an environmental or animal charity.
Counteract your increased winter electricity bill by turning down the thermostat when you go to bed.
Do your best to keep food and purchases this holiday season organic, local, and sustainable. In addition to being healthier and more delicious, you can feel good knowing that your feasts and gifts haven’t depleted any precious natural resources or wasted energy in getting to you.
Between wasted energy and discarded Christmas trees, holiday décor can create more waste than most of us understand. Here are a few ideas for green décor:
LED Christmas lights are an easy swap to make that save more than 95 percent of energy overtime, according to Eartheasy.com. Also, go for mini lights instead of larger lights, and shut them off when you go to bed – nobody is appreciating the light at 3 AM! Try flipping all the lights off and dining by candlelight for eco-friendly holiday evenings.
Make or Reuse Decorations
Rather than splurging on new Christmas décor, give a DIY or Pinterest project a whirl; or make a tradition out of reusing family and vintage Christmas décor.
There are many alternatives to the farmed Christmas trees we so often see on street corners. Decorate a living plant, or purchase artificial Christmas trees to use for years (or decades!). If you do purchase a living tree, be sure to choose Fair Trees. Fair Trees promotes ecology and sustainable forms of production in consideration of the environment. Currently, only 40 percent of the 50 million Christmas trees chopped down each year are recycled, according to Eartheasy.com.
Believe it or not, Environment911.org also reports that wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S.
Easy. Wrap your gifts in recycled paper; rather than shiny, metallic rolls you see in your local shops which are hard to recycle. Greenfieldpaper.com has fantastic, green wrapping paper options.
Baggu.com nylon bags are an inexpensive and fun way to wrap gifts— they’re reusable and compact, and reduce even more waste at your local grocery store overtime. Another cool idea is to wrap gifts in decorative boxes, reusable vessels, or wearable items like scarves.
Select Gifts Carefully
Some gifts come in ambiguous containers or boxes and don’t need wrapping, others are small enough that they require less paper.
Sending digital cards is an effective way to reduce waste, check people off your gift list, and ensure that your beloved ones will like what they receive. Wrapp.com is another fantastic option— the iPhone app allows users to send digital gifts directly to any friends Facebook wall.
According to Carbonfund.org, the energy used to produce, deliver and dispose of junk mail each year produces more gas emissions than 2.8 million cars. There are simple ways to cut back on that waste during the peak of the mail season.
Cut the Catalogs
Don't subscribe! Cut your holiday catalogs before the season begins and shop online when possible to prevent added mail.
Each year 200,000 trees will be cut down to make holiday cards, according to an online report. If you choose to send cards, try to be mindful of where the paper is sourced. Look for recycled paper or wildflower-seeded cards like those from Botanicalpaperworks.com, and recycle cards you receive.
Use The Web
The eCard industry has come leaps and bounds into classier territory. Now, there are designer, wallet-friendly digital cards available on sites like Paperlesspost.com. Customize the colors of the eCard, envelope, liners, text, photos, and send in an instant (and for cheap!).