The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the joy of giving, sharing, and celebrating. However, it's also a time when our carbon footprint tends to grow substantially. From the excess food waste to the mountains of discarded wrapping paper, the Holidays can be quite wasteful. But fear not! In this blog post, we'll explore nine super easy ways to make your Holiday celebrations more eco-friendly, so you can enjoy the festivities guilt-free.

1. Avoid Returns

Returns might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Holiday waste, but they play a significant role in the environmental impact of the holidays. Large corporations often send returned items straight to landfills, resulting in billions of pounds of waste each year. To reduce this waste, it's essential to make informed purchases. Read item descriptions carefully, and pay attention to measurements to ensure the items you order are the right fit. By doing so, you can avoid the need for returns, which not only saves resources but also reduces your carbon footprint. Additionally, consider re-gifting or donating items that don't quite fit instead of sending them back, further minimizing waste and the chance it could end up in a landfill for 1000's of years.

2. Wrap Gifts Using Newspaper or Reusable Cloth Wrapping Paper

Traditional wrapping paper may look beautiful, but most of it ends up in landfills because it's often not recyclable. To minimize waste, consider using alternatives like newspaper, which can be easily recycled or composted. Even better, opt for reusable cloth wrapping paper that comes in various patterns and can be used for years.

Americans throw "away" a staggering 25-43% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's, and a significant portion of that waste comes from shopping, packaging, wrapping, and gift-giving. This surge in holiday packaging waste is a pressing issue that requires our collective action. Sadly, a substantial amount of this packaging waste, much of it plastic, finds its way into landfills every year, where it will persist for thousands of years without breaking down.

Thrift stores are a hidden treasure trove when it comes to eco-friendly gift wrapping options. You'll find loads of clothes that can be repurposed for wrapping gifts creatively. For instance, you can buy a scarf that not only serves as part of the gift itself but also doubles as beautiful and sustainable wrapping. This thoughtful approach not only reduces waste but also adds a personal touch to your presents, making them even more special. So, let your creativity shine while wrapping your gifts sustainably this holiday season!

Eco Friendly Wrapping Alternatives

3. Choose Secondhand or Natural Decor

Embrace the beauty of thrifting when it comes to holiday decor. Secondhand shops and thrift stores often have unique and affordable decorations that can give your space a distinctive charm. Not only will you save money, but you'll also rescue items from ending up in a landfill for eternity.

By choosing secondhand decor, you can still get into the spirit of the holidays without contributing to waste. Plus, there's something wonderfully satisfying about finding hidden gems and giving them a new lease on life.

Another eco-friendly option is to create your decor using natural objects you find right in your surroundings. Pinecones, cedar garlands, and other natural elements can be transformed into beautiful, sustainable decorations. Not only does this approach reduce your environmental impact, but it also adds a personal and unique touch to your holiday decor that no store-bought item can replicate.

4. DIY What You Can

The Holidays are the perfect time for DIY projects, where you can infuse your festivities with a personal touch while being eco-conscious. Whether you're an experienced crafter or a newbie, there are countless creative ideas for making your own gifts and decorations that contribute to a sustainable holiday season.

For instance, you can create your own advent calendar with kraft paper bags decorated as gingerbread houses, a delightful and reusable way to countdown to Christmas each year. You can even make your own cards too- there's no limit to the creative possibilities. DIY allows you to customize gifts to suit the recipient's tastes and preferences, making them that much more special.

Explore DIY tutorials online (we love Pinterest for this) to find inspiration for eco-friendly holiday creations that reflect your unique style. With a little creativity and effort, you can craft your way to a memorable and sustainable holiday that both you and your loved ones will cherish.

DIY holiday greeting cards

5. Give an Experience Gift

When it comes to gift-giving during the holiday season, we often focus on physical items that can be beautifully wrapped and placed under the tree. However, there's a wonderful alternative that not only reduces waste but also creates lasting memories that your loved ones will treasure for years to come: experience gifts.

Experience gifts are a fantastic way to reduce waste and get you and your loved ones out there enjoying life together. Consider gifting experiences like museum passes, spa days, cooking classes, ski passes, and more. These gifts not only minimize environmental impact but also provide opportunities for quality time with the people you love. 

6. Make Plant-Based Holiday Recipes

Switching to more plant-based holiday meals can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Plant-based dishes are not only eco-friendly but also delicious and nutritious. Even if you're not ready to go entirely vegan, incorporating plant-based options into your holiday menu can make a positive impact. Try plant-based recipes or swap ingredients like almond milk for dairy milk to reduce your environmental footprint. Plus, exploring new plant-based dishes can add exciting flavors and variety to your traditional holiday spread, delighting both your taste buds and the planet. It's a win-win for your festive feasts!

Holiday Card from recycled paper

7. Opt for Eco-Friendly Christmas Cards

Sending Christmas cards is a cherished tradition, but it can be wasteful. However, there are ways to make this tradition more eco-friendly. Start by looking for cards with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo or Sustainable Forestry Initiative,  indicating responsibly sourced paper. This ensures that the production of the cards supports responsible forest management.

Additionally, choose recyclable card options to further minimize paper waste without glitter or plastic components. When the holiday season is over, these cards can be easily recycled, reducing their impact on landfills. If you're tech-savvy, consider digital cards as an alternative to reduce the carbon emissions associated with mailing physical cards. They're not only eco-friendly but also convenient and can be just as heartfelt. 

8. Choose Quality Over Quantity

In the spirit of giving, it's easy to get carried away with buying numerous gifts. However, this holiday season, consider a different approach—focus on quality over quantity. Thoughtfully select gifts that are well-made, durable, and designed to have a longer lifespan. By doing so, you not only express your love and thoughtfulness but also reduce the overall environmental impact of gift-giving.

Handmade or artisanal products often make excellent choices. They carry a unique charm and attention to detail that mass-produced items can't match. These thoughtful gifts are more likely to be cherished and stand the test of time, and ultimately reducing waste in the long run.

Furthermore, choosing quality over quantity supports the idea of conscious consumerism. It encourages responsible production practices and can even save you money in the long run, as these well-crafted items are less likely to need frequent replacement.

Storing Christmas lights

9. Use Proper Storage Techniques

To extend the life of your holiday decor and reduce waste, practice proper storage techniques. Store ornaments carefully, wrap fragile items in newspaper to prevent breakage, and organize string lights neatly. These steps not only save you money in the long run by protecting your beloved decorations from damage, but they also contribute to a more sustainable holiday season year after year.

Proper storage ensures that your holiday decor remains in excellent condition -  reducing the need to replace items prematurely. It's a simple yet effective way to preserve the magic of the season while minimizing your environmental footprint

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