The holidays are the season of giving, but with the season comes a fair bit of excess. During the holiday season, household waste increases by as much as 25 percent! This time of year is a perfect opportunity to show friends and family that you care about them, but also that you care about sustainability, preserving renewable resources and your impact on the environment. Consider these environmentally friendly
ideas for making December a green month–and not just because of all the Christmas trees around.
1. Buy domestic: Buying products manufactured in the U.S. helps eliminate the harmful effects of shipping. According to Earth Justice, “Ships transport 90 percent of the world’s consumer goods,” and in doing so generate 15 to 30 percent of the world’s emissions. Some “Made in the USA” companies for holiday shopping include Vermont Teddy Bear, Breyer Horses andCrocs shoes. You can even search within categories on Amazon using the search term “Made in USA” to get a listing of all products manufactured domestically.
2. Buy local: Shopping with local, independent merchants helps boost your local economy, eliminates shipping, plus it cuts out the use of additional packing materials. According to Sustainable Connections, “Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.”
3. Wrap green: Consider giving cute reusable shopping bags and totes from Envirosax or ChicoBag. Wrap your gifts in recycled paper or material such as newspaper, decorative shopping bags or even sheet music. And we may have all giggled at our grandmothers for saving ribbons off packages, but if every family reused 2 feet of ribbon during the holidays, we could tie a bow around the whole globe with that 38,000 miles of ribbon saved.
4. Give of the Earth: Give a tree. The planting of the tree is a fun outdoor activity to do together as a family. It will not only be a great memory, it will grow as your family grows through the years. Plus, according to Tree Folks, “If every American family planted just one tree, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be reduced by 1 billion lbs. annually.”
5. Make a wreath: It may seem more environmentally friendly at first glace to buy a plastic wreath instead of a real one, but plastic is made from petroleum—definitely not a renewable resource. Make it part of your family tradition to create one together as a gift to a special friend. The best news? Pine trees aren’t actually cut down to make a wreath; the tips of the branches are cut off and they grow back year after year.
Of course, one could argue that regifting is a pretty green practice; you are reusing, right? But we won’t go there. Green gift-giving practices can enrich the holiday season with deeper gratitude and meaning all the while adding to the joy that makes us all look forward to the season.