Hello December! You know what that means; we’re being welcomed into the season of feasting with family, buying gifts for everyone on your list, and participating in beloved traditions. Unfortunately, this is also the season for not so eco-friendly living. And if you know anything about us, eco-living is kind of our thing. So for this joyful season, we wanted to share some ways to keep things a little more planet friendly. All it takes is a bit more consciousness and consideration when making festive decisions- easy enough, right?
1. First things first, we’ve got to address excess waste
Don’t get me wrong, holiday parties are lovely. Sometimes it is the only occasion an entire family can get together in a year. One can expect delicious food, awkward white elephant gifts, and catching up with loved ones from out of town- all good very good things. But the issue at hand is the excess waste that comes with these get togethers.
Yes, disposable party plates may seem like the more convenient choice, but think about if every other house on your block is doing the same. Yikes. Not to mention all of the excess plastic wear that ends up in the trash. So to combat the 1 million extra tons of household waste Americans accumulate between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, let’s change the train of thought from convenient to conscious. Some easy tips to cut down on party wastefulness are compostable dinnerware, serving food on non-disposable plates, and striving for minimal plastic use.
2. Make your feast a sustainable one
No matter how you celebrate the holidays, it’s likely there is a coveted feast like dinner involved. If you were to ask yourself right now how sustainable it is, would you know the answer? If not, it’s okay, everyone has to start somewhere. A simple way to tell how sustainable your meal is to consider the origin of your meats, produce, and beverages.
When discussing all of the above, it’s best to make your local farmer’s market your first stop. There, you’ll find ethical options and higher quality. For meats, remember free range and grass-fed is always best. Ideally for produce, from your backyard is best. Locally grown veggies from your neighborhood market are wonderful as well and will allow you to embrace a seasonal selection. For this year’s beverage selection, consider local or organic wines and supporting a favorite hometown brewery. And when shopping- don’t forget to bring your reusable bags!
3. Support sustainable and local businesses
As consumers, we all vote with our dollars. This year, vote for sustainable and local businesses. Voting for local businesses allows your money to stay in your local economy, and is more appreciated by the owners than a CEO would be. With so much character in locally-owned shops, supporting them will only add to your own sense of community.
Instead of being overcome with consumerism, make this an opportunity to get loved ones interested in your sustainable passion. If you buy someone a scarf with a beautiful story of the artisan that made it, it’s sure to fill them with gratitude and help them start thinking about who makes their clothes. A 100% recycled tunic that is made by workers who are paid a fair wage is much better that one made from all virgin materials in a sweatshop, so it is essential to be doing research and making sure the companies you support check out.
4. Last but not least, recycle
Bet you could see this one from a mile away! The truth of it is, a lot of us (even the eco savy) don’t know all the ways we can be recycling throughout the holiday. Gift wrap alone creates about 4 million tons of waste each year in the US. And what about the 50 million trees the day after Christmas? The holidays can be so filled with stress that recycling may not even cross your mind- but this year you can make a difference.
A few things you can do is keep reusable wrapping material, purchase non-glossy paper, recycle all food and beverage packaging, and care for your tree sustainably. Bows and ribbons have much more life in them then one time use, so make sure to keep them from the trash. Non-glossy wrapping paper can be recycled or composted, minimizing your environmental impact. What’s even better is if you can reuse it! If you’re celebrating Christmas this year- take some extra consideration for your tree. Did you know your live tree makes great compost material or can be replanted? Both are options to keep in mind when the time comes.
Instead of being overcome by consumerism and stress this holiday season, allow yourself to slow down and enjoy each tradition for what it truly is. Celebrating sustainably will help you to fully embrace the holidays without sacrificing our planet or any of the people on it. So from our family to yours, we are wishing you the best.
Do you have any other sustainable holiday tips? Let us know in the comment section!