How to Celebrate Sustainably this Holiday Season!

Since it’s officially that time of year where everyone is giving gifts to everyone else in their lives (which can be incredibly wasteful when done on an international scale), here are some useful tips and tricks that can help you become more sustainable in your wintertime celebrations!

1. Give Reusable Gifts!

Today, there are more eco-friendly and low-waste gift options than ever before. This holiday season, buy your friends reusable water bottles, zero-waste beauty items, a nice metal razor, shampoo and conditioner bars, or any other eco-friendly essentials you think they’d like!

2. Reconsider Cards!

Greeting cards are popular because they’re so easy to throw into a gift, but do they really add any value? Since most people don’t keep the cards they receive, a ton of waste is created during this season (and all other holidays). If you don’t want to get rid of them entirely, consider replacing them with electronic greeting cards or a simple handwritten note – two great alternatives!

3. Buy Second Hand!

Don’t forget to utilize thrift stores this season! They are great places to find unique gifts for people, or to donate items you no longer need that could make a great gift for others. Buying secondhand lowers the carbon footprint of your gift-giving and gives a new home to items that may have ended up in a landfill otherwise!

4. Wrapping Paper Alternatives!

When giving gifts this year, consider leaving out the wrapping paper. Most wrapping paper gets disposed of after just one use since it can be very difficult to repurpose. Instead of wrapping paper, use brown paper, fabric, maps, calendars or any other material you already have sitting around (or, reuse old gift bags). This is a great way to not only reduce your waste but also make your gifts stand out!

5. Recycle Boxes!

Cardboard is one of the most universally recyclable products, so when you order gifts online this year, make sure to recycle the boxes they’re shipped in (if you decide not to repurpose the box as a gift box). Same goes for gifts you receive from others– if they’re in a cardboard box you can’t use again, make sure to recycle the box! Some kinds of wrapping paper, greeting cards & paper bags can also be recycled, though you should check your local recycling guidelines for more specific rules. Ideally, we would all avoid creating waste to begin with, but once it does exist, it’s crucial to make sure it ends up in the right place! 

6. Decorations!

Decorating for the holidays is arguably one of the best parts of the season. However, a lot of holiday decorations are made of plastic, only relevant for one month out of the year, and may break after only a few uses. This year, try using more natural decorations like seasonal fruits or plants, or making some upcycled crafts!

7. Reuse Packaging!

Make sure to hold on to any bags and boxes you receive gifts in this year! While you can’t control the packaging you receive gifts in, you can still save it and repurpose it later in the year or next holiday season.

8. Repurpose Real Trees, Donate Unwanted Fakes Ones!

Many Christmas trees can be repurposed! If you have a real Christmas tree, instead of just throwing it out at the end of the season, look into local collection programs that can turn old trees into mulch or wood chips, use them for wildlife restoration, or even to feed goats! If you have a plastic tree that you no longer need, donate it to a local thrift store or shelter so it can find a new home.

9. Buy Experiential Gifts Rather Than Material Ones!

Sometimes the perfect thing to get someone isn’t a “thing” at all! Giving concert tickets, day passes to a local museum, or gift cards to their favorite restaurant, are all wonderful ways to give thoughtful gifts that don’t hurt the planet! 

Pick at least TWO things from this list and make it happen this holiday season!

Olivia Tussey

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