Twinkling lights, gathering with family and friends, settling in by the fire and enjoying the winter nights – the holiday season is upon us! No matter how you choose to celebrate, everyone can choose sustainability this season. Here are just a few tips to make your holidays more sustainable this year, and every year!
Enjoy Sustainability this Season
Reduce Food Waste: Plan your meals carefully and buy only what you need. You’ll save money, conserve energy and resources, and help reduce methane emissions from landfills! Be sure to serve food using washable plates, glasses, and utensils to help keep even more waste out of landfills.
Shop Local: Search for sustainable food choices in your area. Support your local economy by shopping for gifts that are locally made or grown. Consider purchasing gift cards for local services like performances, events, spas and salons, museum memberships, art lessons, fitness classes – the list goes on!
Give Something Back: In addition to shopping local, embrace the season of giving back: Donate to charities and service organizations in the name of friends or family who support their causes.
Decorate Sustainably: If you decorate with lights, choose energy efficient LED strings. If a tree is part of your holiday plans, consider an artificial tree you can use for years to come. Prefer a real tree? Our friends at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) suggest supporting a local tree farm which helps protect water and provides refuge for wildlife. A live, native root ball tree can be planted after the holidays! DCNR also offers these tips for tree recycling:
- Decorate your tree for wildlife -- Put your tree outside and decorate with edible citrus ornaments or all-natural popcorn strings to feed birds and squirrels.
- Create a brush pile for wildlife -- A Christmas tree makes a great base for helping to provide food and protection during the winter months!
- Enrich your soil -- Chop up your Christmas tree to add insulation and enrichment to your garden bed.
- Help fish -- Have a private pond with fish? Sunken Christmas trees provide shelter and feeding areas for fish.
- Donate to tree recycling programs -- Tree recycling and mulching programs are becoming more popular in communities. Check your local department of public works to see if a program is available.
As you decorate, consider the gifts of nature! Create holiday decorations from materials you find in your yard, such as evergreen branches and pinecones.
Get Creative! Make your own gifts! Photo books, recipe books, art, sewing and knitting crafts, and more can make great gifts for family and friends. Find interesting ways to recycle items for gift wrap: Use fabrics you might have, old maps, newspapers, or reusable containers to package gifts.
Shop with Energy Efficiency in Mind: Look for durable gifts that will last. If you purchase an item that needs batteries, buy batteries that are rechargeable. And if you go out shopping, use mass transit or combine your errands into one trip!
These are just a few tips to help you celebrate sustainably. You’ll save money, help the environment, support your local artisans, and share the season with your whole community. Happy holidays!
References: EPA, CDC