Top 5 tips to green your Holiday Season
I love Christmas and the Holiday Season! As soon as the days start to shorten and the temperature starts to drop, I start dreaming of fairy lights, Christmas trees and snow-white postcard-like panoramas. Then I start feeling guilty for all the generated waste, energy abuse and cut-down trees this season brings about. So in the jolly spirit of the season, and with a feeling of thanks and gratitude towards nature and the beauty of our planet in the back of my head, here is a top 5 list to green your Holiday Season.
1) Choose a real Christmas tree over an artificial one
There is no doubt that a real Christmas tree is better for the environment than an artificial one. Artificial trees have heavy carbon footprints. Most of the trees are manufactured in Asia and will require a lot of energy for transport to European or American stores. The trees are made of metal, plastic and materials that are not biodegradable. Manufacturing the trees is also heavy on the environment and releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.
A real tree is carbon neutral (the tree absorbs as much carbon dioxide during it’s growth as it will emit when burned or left to decompose) and does not contain any toxic chemicals. If you have the choice, go for a real Christmas tree with roots. After the Holidays you can plant the tree and even reuse it the next year. Another cool option, although maybe too late for this year, might be to grow your own tree.
2) Go for compostable Christmas decorations
Try to avoid plastic or non-recyclable decorations at all costs. They can’t be recycled and there are much better ways to give your home a Christmas feeling. House decorations and decorations for the Christmas tree can be made from organic material. Why not try tree branches, pine cones or leaves? And throw some beautiful Christmas flowers and some mistletoe in? To decorate your tree, look in your kitchen cabinet. You’ll find that dough and a little bit of creativity can make wonders. Popcorn, gingerbread and cinnamon sticks are perfect too. And after the Holiday Season, all your Christmas decorations will be fully compostable.
3) Give eco-friendly gifts or do some good while giving
This year, instead of going for the carbon loaded gifts shops are already piling up with, consider going for something completely different. Many gifts don’t require any carbon emissions or manufacturing like the sponsoring of animals, donations to environmental or other non-profit organizations, planting a tree and much more. If you prefer to go for ‘real’ gifts you could consider giving away activities. IOU’s for a day in the park, a hiking get-away or any other (eco-friendly) activity you would like others to enjoy are a great alternative and gift. Theater, concert or movie tickets are a good option too as are vouchers for electronic items like music or movie downloads.
4) Consider alternatives for Christmas cards
Millions of trees worldwide are cut down every year just to provide us with Christmas cards. Although I’m a big fan of them myself, there are green alternatives that make a big difference. One option is to send recycled Christmas cards, or to go entirely electronic and send e-cards instead. Many Christmas cards support non-profit organizations or causes. If you can’t do without the traditional cards, why not do some good at the same time and offset your paper use by planting a tree?
After the holidays, there are many things you can do with your Christmas cards. You can use them to create fun collages with your kids, keep them in an album or frame the nicest ones. If you are not a Christmas card keeper, remember to recycle them the right way. Paper cards go in the paper bin; mixed cards (paper and plastic or any other material) are recycled in parts and in their respective recycle bins.
5) Reduce, reuse and recycle your Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner is so much fun, but it produces so much waste! Before, during and after your dinner consider these easy steps to reduce, reuse and recycle your waste as much as possible.
Reduce/ Don’t make too much food; it will end up in the waste bin anyway. Try to be conscious about the food you will be serving. An organic turkey is a good option, as are organic products from local stores or farmers’ markets.
Reuse/ Don’t use plastic dishes or paper napkins, here again they will only end up in the waste bin and they are not biodegradable. Instead, go for the real deal. Grandmother’s dishes, wine glasses and fabric napkins. After dinner try to stack as much as possible in the dishwasher and go for an eco-friendly program. If you don’t own a dishwasher, get some family members together and do the dishes by hand. It’s a fun and eco-friendly time for sharing some family gossip.
Recycle/ After your Christmas dinner compost your food waste and recycle any other waste (wine bottles, soda cans…) appropriately.
If you follow these tips you’ll have a wonderfully eco-friendly Holiday Season. One to remember and to be proud of!