December 4, 2023

How to Have an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

By: Kelvey Vander Hart

The weather is getting chilly, Christmas music is playing, neighborhoods are lit up, and we’re all probably stressing about buying for someone on our gift list. Yep—the holidays are upon us. In a season that is often marked by excess and consumerism, sustainability can take a back seat. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Here are five simple ways to have an eco-friendly holiday season: 

Look to nature for decoration 

Want some new decorations for the season? Look to nature. From pine cones and greenery to full trees (both cut and in planters), there are plenty of ways to bring the outdoors indoors. At the end of the season you’re left with decorations that are compostable, not collecting dust in your attic or sitting in a landfill. 

Hold off on buying wrapping paper 

If you have “buy wrapping paper” on your to-do list, I would encourage you to wait a bit. Why? Because there is a LOT around your house that could function in its place, especially if you’ve been having things shipped to your house. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve saved any brown paper that was used to pad packages and now I have enough to wrap Christmas presents (and probably next year’s too). Could you give packaging or other items around your house a new purpose?

Gift consumables and experiences

If you’ve always gifted physical objects, aiming for a more sustainable holiday season may mean broadening your gift giving horizons. Consumables, such as a really good bottle of wine or a local delicacy, make great gifts and can be sourced with minimal packaging. Experiences are also things that can be gifted with little to no waste while likely being enjoyed far more than another book or scarf.    

Limit kitchen trash 

There are plenty of ways to limit the amount of kitchen trash you produce as you cook holiday meals. Cooking from scratch eliminates a lot of the cans, boxes, and bags that come with prepackaged items. Finding items packaged in recyclable or reusable materials, like glass, also diverts waste from landfills. And finding ways to use food scraps, like making homemade broth, puts even more to good use. 

Use real plates and utensils 

I know, I know—disposable is the most convenient. But one of the simplest ways to make your holiday more environmentally friendly is to stick to reuseable options. If you’re hosting more people than you have dishes for, check out your local thrift store where you can often find great sets of plates, bowls, and utensils for the same price as disposable. (And, if you don’t want to keep them after the holiday season, they can go right back to the thrift store.) 

Happy holidays! Here’s to a more sustainable holiday season.