4 ways to create a sustainable holiday
It's easy to maintain holiday cheer with less waste. And it could save you some money, too.
Sat, Dec 01, 2012 at 10:10 AM
A sustainable holiday season is definitely in reach, and it starts with all the merchandise. Do you really need to buy all that stuff just because it’s on sale? Well, maybe. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an eco-friendly Christmas come Dec. 25. So what would a sustainable holiday look like? Have a look:
1. Your Christmas tree — A cut, dead Christmas tree isn't one of the most eco-friendly things you can have in your house for the holiday, especially if you just throw it out afterward. These days, renting living Christmas trees are all the rage. Wherever you are, you are sure to find a company nearby that rents potted, living Christmas trees for the holiday season. They are usually dropped off a week or two before Christmas and are picked up by the company after the holiday. The Original Living Christmas Tree Company, based in Oregon and one of the first tree rental companies around, plants all the trees that it rents every year. Some companies will maintain the trees and rent them out again next year. To find a tree rental near you, click here. There are some other eco-friendly options for Christmas trees, some bizarre and some quaint. (Check out a great list here.)
2. The presents — Sure, there are lots of eco-friendly gifts options out there. But this year, why not focus on how the gifts are given instead? For example, make sure all your shopping is done in as few trips as possible, to cut down on gas and emissions. Also, bring your own bags to the store — we often think about bringing reusable bags to the grocery store but nowhere else. Why not change that this year? Finally, skip the wrapping paper. There’s another creative way to wrap your presents this year — with fabric. Bathroom gifts can be wrapped in a towel, and kitchen gifts can be wrapped in an apron — no pile of wasted wrapping paper come 8:31 a.m. Christmas morning. Check out this step-by-step tutorial for tips on how to wrap all your gifts in fabric.
3. The food — Not many people think of going green when it comes to the big meal. Try to come up with recipes that involve local or organic produce. Sometimes local is even better than organic, because having fruit or veggies shipped to you from South America, even if they’re organic, isn’t exactly Earth-friendly. And don’t forget about the table itself. Why not amp up the class factor by eating on real dishes and using cloth napkins? Your Aunt Rhonda is sure to be impressed.
4. The decorations — Whether they are for your house or for your tree, Christmas lights can use a heck of a lot of electricity. This year, try using LED lights instead of incandescents. Not only do they use less electricity, they'll save you money too. Check out Arizona Public Service’s (APS) calculator to see exactly how much it’ll save you to make the switch. Also, be sure to put your lights on a timer so you’re not wasting electricity during the daytime or when no one is awake to enjoy your display. Of course, there’s always the option of nixing the light display altogether, but I’ll leave that difficult decision up to you.
Whatever you do, try not to stress over having a perfectly sustainable holiday. The holidays are a great time to savor time with family and make memories that last a lifetime. If you’re too busy trying to focus on all things green, you might miss it. If you can pick one way to go green this year, consider yourself a sustainable success.
You can submit a question to Mother Nature, and one of our many experts will track down the answer. Plus: Visit our advice archives to see if your question has already been tackled.
Related holiday stories on MNN:
- DIY Christmas tree ornaments
- Top holiday cookies by state
- 2012 MNN holiday gift guide
- 10 elegant, inexpensive homemade holiday gifts
Click for photo credits
Plate: Dan Kosmayer/Shutterstock
Lights: Cosmin TARTAN/Shutterstock