At it’s heart, Christmas is about family. It’s a time when we get together with our loved ones, and reflect on what truly matters in life. Our children open presents around the tree, we eat a wonderful meal together, and look at beautiful Christmas lights.
If you care about the planet, you may be torn between experiencing all the wonderful traditions of Christmas and putting a stop to the enormous waste that goes along with it. The good news is, you can still enjoy the holiday spirit while also being more sustainable. Here’s 5 ways to do that.
Rent a Christmas Tree
One of the simplest changes you can make is to change how you handle your Christmas tree. Most people choose between a real tree that has been cut down, or a fake tree made out of plastics. Both of these have their drawbacks for the planet.
A third option however, is to rent a Christmas tree. When you rent a Christmas tree, you receive a full size living Christmas tree in a pot. At the end of the rental, the tree is returned and lives for another year to go out again next Christmas.
When the Christmas tree finally grows too big to be a Christmas tree anymore, it is “retired” in a forest to grow and live a long, long life.
This is a great option to help do something nice for the planet. The drawback is rental Christmas trees are often expensive, and not always available–but it’s worth checking on before trying a traditional tree.
The best gift you can give another is something they will actually use. As a child I had Holiday’s filled to the brim with presents. Everywhere you looked was a present! I remember a few distinct gifts, usually the ones tailored to me or that I specifically asked for. I don’t recall the dozens of ‘fluff’ items.
If you think a gift will be something that gets thrown away, don’t include it in your Holiday. Take the time to choose presents that fit the person well, and that you know they will use.
Thoughtful gifts are tailored to who a person is–not who you want them to be. You might have loved playing with dolls as a child, but your punk rocker child will probably appreciate that skateboard more. You might wish your child would read more and fill their stocking with books, but if they hate reading those books will be glorified doorstops.
Every gift has a cost to the planet, so when you choose to show your love to someone this way, make your best effort to get them something that will make them feel that love.
Reuse the Wrap
Although paper waste isn’t quite the monster plastic is, it is still a significant part of Christmas waste. You can help reduce the environmental impact of your gift wrap by being more selective of what you wrap it in.
Reusable boxes, gift bags and cloth gift wrap are all great examples of wrapping that can be used again and again. If you love the feel of tearing into paper, reusing paper that would otherwise be thrown away can also be a great way to wrap things up.
You can get creative with this. Old music books from the thrift store, maps, or newspaper can all make for interesting wrap.
Send plantable cards
Christmas cards are a fun part of the holidays. You can make the planet a slightly better place when you send one, by sending a plantable card. These cards have flower seeds embedded in the paper. When you bury the card, pollinator friendly blooms will grow where you placed them.
Thrift stores are glutted with Christmas decorations of every kind. Before you shop new, see what is available second hand. It’s always better to give an old item new life, than to continuously buy and discard new things.
Repairing your old items, especially Christmas Lights, is another way to help keep this Holiday green. Many Christmas lights are thrown out unnecessarily, not because they are no longer useful, but a single light bulb has burned out.
Christmas is a fantastic time of year, and one that many of us enjoy. This year, make it an Earth Friendly one as well with these 5 tips.