How to make your holiday season a bit more Eco-Friendly…

Let’s face it, the holidays with all of the shopping, gift exchanges, and decorations, while fun and festive, can be an ecological nightmare for the planet. But we don’t have to sacrifice all of the excitement - particularly in this year of unprecedented hell - to walk a bit lighter on the Earth. Here are just a few ways you can make a positive impact this holiday season:

1) Choose eco-friendly or recycled wrapping paper or choose to go without. Why have trees chopped down just to have the paper immediately torn off gifts and then thrown away? Get creative - use recycled newspaper, paper bags or other sustainable wrapping and choose to forego new bows and ribbons. A natural twine is a great substitute along with a cutting of flowers from your yard.

2) Eco-friendly gifts. At the risk of the vegan cheese factor exploding, I will say that the best gift is togetherness - time spent with friends, family, and loved ones. But if you’re going to go the traditional gift route, I find the next best thing is something you can make to give. This not only reduces the impact on the planet of buying new gifts, but also shows the care and love you have for the recipient. Okay, I know, let’s be real - you want to get and give stuff. So try to pick items that are made with and from sustainable and eco-friendly sources.

3) Send E-cards. If you are a person or family that regularly sends out holiday cards, you can save trees, shipping costs and pollution simply by sending an e-card to your friends, family and co-workers. It may not seem as personable but let others know why you’re making the choice for the environment.

4) Buy Locally. Help reduce the amount of carbon emissions it takes to ship goods from around the world to your local store or home by supporting local businesses and communities.

5) Use energy saving holiday lights. By replacing traditional lights with LED lights, you can lower emissions, increase energy efficiency and expect longer lifespans for the bulbs

6) Eat sustainable plant based meals. Holidays are typically a time of gathering and sharing amazing food. This year with Covid is different and we need to be mindful of social distancing and refraining from larger gatherings. But we also need to be thoughtful about what we are consuming and its impact on the planet. Choosing plant based meals for your holiday season is one of the best things you can do for the climate crisis.

7) Christmas Tree. If you have an imitation tree continue to use it for years to come rather than buying anything new. But if you seek a real Christmas Tree, please consider purchasing a living tree in a pot that can be planted once the holidays are over. A living tree shows your dedication to the environment and can make the memories of a holiday season last forever.

8) Donate to a cause in lieu of a physical gift. Let’s face it, some people are impossible to buy gifts for - they either have everything you can think of or simply don’t want anything. Instead of buying them something they may not use or want, consider making a donation on their behalf to an organization or cause that works to help the environment and climate crisis, animal protection or human rights.

9) Volunteer. I’m going to throw this one in too. While the holiday season is thought of as the season of giving, the best gift of all is the gift of helping others. I know it may be more difficult this year due to the pandemic but consider volunteering to help low income communities, or environmental and animal causes.

10) Reuse in general and donate any excess. As a general rule the holidays don’t have to be about constantly buying new stuff. Significant amounts of waste can be prevented by simply reusing items rather than throwing them away and buying again. And if you have excess food this year, consider donating to a local food bank or organization that distributes to low income communities.

Learning to live more harmonious with the environment does not have to equate to sacrificing things you like to buy or love to do. It means you can feel good about what you support and your efforts to walk lighter on the Earth and helping to battle the climate crisis.

Happy Holidays!