What’s a better way to reflect on the bountiful reasons for thanks this holiday season by celebrating in an eco-friendly manner this year? It seems that between thanksgiving and Christmas travel, waste, and consumption reach their highest levels during the holidays and it’s hard to know where to draw the line. Fortunately, there is no need to give up timeless holiday traditions in order to be sustainable; we just need to adapt our favorite celebrations to fit a more modern green perspective.
The eco-friendly solution to the Christmas tree is not what you would expect. Surveys have shown to everybody’s surprise that artificial trees, which were once considered a great reusable solution, are thrown out after just a couple of years of use. That’s unfortunate, considering that these products are rarely made of biodegradable materials and will sit in landfills for years to come. Alternatively, the real deal actually stimulates the Christmas tree industry, whose fields would be sold and most likely paved or developed without support from consumers. The fresh air from these local tree operations are one great reason to invest in a fresh tree each year. The only downside to a fresh tree is that the majority as grown with the use of toxic pesticides. Your best bet is to find a local organic tree farm if you really want to go eco-friendly.
Holiday lights are often a huge waste of materials and energy. They don’t last many years and consume huge amounts of electricity. Consider going solar if sparkling lights are a must, a small panel can even be made at home for a small investment of a few bucks and the weekend. If possible, lights should be utilized inside the home where the small amount of heat generated can actually go to some constructive use. Unplug them when you’re not at home.
Bringing the outdoors in is a great way to save on flimsy disposable decorations that go out of style quickly. Pine cones, winter berries, and wreaths made of native woods make wonderful organic additions to the home interior. Outdoor decorations utilizing birdseed are a great eco-friendly project for the kids that can bring a splash of unexpected living colors to your windowsill in the morning. There is absolutely no limit: nature is the most creative decorators of us all.
Don’t worry; we’re not going to suggest that you limit your holiday gorging in any way, shape or form. In fact, holiday spending keeps many businesses afloat that redline until the Christmas spending sprees. Use this opportunity to support your local farmers and food growers by being aware of where your feast is going to come from. Frequent the farmers markets in the area during autumn when they’re bustling to get an idea of what will be around for Christmas. Basing dishes off seasonally available items can bring tradition back to the table where it belongs.
An eco-friendly holiday celebration may be just what your family needs to get on the track to sustainability. Make sure that Christmas gift paper is recycled for next year, that bags are neatly folded away, and leftovers are transferred to the compost pile. Attempt to get neighbors together to spare holiday commutes and encourage your distant relatives to do the same. Sustainability is something that could expand and enliven your established holiday traditions, but it doesn’t have to require sacrifice.