There are so many ways to celebrate the holidays through a “green” filter. Even better, choosing more earth-friendly practices typically mean choosing simpler, more meaningful, less expensive activities, which should help relieve some holiday stress while at the same time allow us to slow down, relax, and enjoy our loved ones and our celebrations.
Here are some suggestions, tips, advice and ideas…
Make all your holiday decorating green.
Candles, not roses. Light the wicks and set the mood without the environmental cost of pesticides, travel and refrigeration that cut flowers may require.
Time to get thrifty. No, really, shop at thrift stores and flea markets for special, interesting, unusual items that elevate your decorating game and reduce your carbon footprint.
Fancy-schmancy wreaths can be earth-friendly. Forget buying expensive plastic / preservative-heavy wreaths. You can use interesting items you already have to create a fabulous door decoration.
Reduce gift waste.
Send e-holiday greetings. Don’t snail-mail your paper holiday cards. Email those photos and greetings to your friends and family. Better yet, make a sweet video to share!
Regifting, the ultimate holiday recycling. Hey, that awful—uh—awfully pretty sweater you received may look good on someone else. Just because it’s not your cup of tea, doesn’t mean it can’t be a fabulous gift for someone else.
Make it an experience. Rather than more “stuff,” why not give someone an experience such as a trip to the movies, a restaurant, a concert or, heck, to a tropical island?
Gifts don’t have to come from the mall. Making cookies, brownies, a favorite dessert or another dish can really make someone feel special. You could also make candles or soaps.
It’s time to wrap it up.
Wrapping up wrapping paper. Instead, make your gift stand out by wrapping gifts with your child’s artwork, old travel maps, the newspaper or comics, or pretty paper shopping bags.
That gift bag doesn’t belong in the trash bag. Have you received a gift in a gift bag? Don’t toss the bag, reuse it! See how many happy celebrations it can share.
It doesn’t have to be paper. Let’s see… Sweet pillowcases, scarves, cool t-shirts and tea towels can all be used to wrap presents.
Think outside the box. Baskets, buckets, jars, even potato chip bags turned inside out (it’s shiny silver!) can be fun ways to “wrap” a gift.
Set your holiday table for Mother Earth.
MIxing and matching your dishes and silverware is charming. And whatever you do, avoid single-use plastics such as disposable plates, utensils, tumblers and cups.
Want nice flower arrangements? Step outside. Forget the hot-house bouquets. Cut sprigs of rosemary, find pretty branches with berries, and pick up acorns and pinecones. Ta-dah. You’re brilliant.
Sing an old song. Upcycle old sheet music to use as delightful placemats.
Be a material girl and use cloth napkins. They feel good to the touch and are better for the environment than disposable paper.
Your holiday menu just got more appetizing.
Choose to buy local. On average in the United States, food now travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table. That requires fuel and chemicals to get involved. Go straight to the healthy source and buy food that’s closer to home.
How old is your fridge? Consider recycling older, less energy-efficient appliances and replacing them with Energy Star models, which emit less greenhouse gas.
No cheating! Make your own food. Buying pre-made and frozen food may save time, but it’s filled with chemicals and means more packaging waste. Instead, buy local and make your own.
Can the cans and ban the plastic bottles. Serve homemade juices, punches and tap water in pretty pitchers and drink dispensers. Keep soda cans and water bottles from ending up in the landfill.
Get right with leftovers and say no to food waste. Instead of tossing your leftovers or watching them go bad in the back of your fridge, send them home with your guests.
Rethink food storage containers. This one is really so easy. Instead of using plastic bags, wrap and Tupperware, try glass containers, (mason jars are awesome!), silicone bags and suction lids, and other reusable food wraps. Win-win!
There’s no limit to what you can do that saves time, money and—bigger picture—our planet. Give your celebrations the green light. And Happy Holidays from askHRgreen.org!