It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I love getting together with friends and loved ones, decorating the house, holiday music, and of course finding that perfect gift to show someone how much they mean to me. This season, let’s show the earth how much it means to us too by adopting the Everyday Eco-Habit of Going Holiday Waste-LESS to make the Holidays a little easier on the earth.
There are so many simple ways to go Holiday Waste-LESS. I don’t want you to get overwhelmed by them as the holidays can be overwhelming enough as it is. Just start with one of the Eco-Habits below. Once you feel you have that Eco-Habit under control, then take on another one, etc. I’ve created a cheat sheet of these Holiday Eco-Habit tips for you to keep as a reference. Even if you end up taking on only one or two of these Eco-Habits this season, feel good knowing that alonewill help ease the burden of the holidays on our earth.
Re-think Holiday Shopping
There are lots of simple ways to re-think your holiday shopping to Go Holiday Waste-LESS:
One of the easiest ways is to bring reusable bags when you go holiday shopping for food or gifts. Why is this important? It’s all broken down for you in my Bag-LESS Eco-Habit post.
Much has been studied about whether it is better for the environment to shop online or at a brick-and-mortar store. While one study found online shopping to use 35 percent less energy, that was based on the assumption people drove to stores. Whether you shop online or at a brick-and-mortar store, follow the eco tips below to consume less energy and reduce your emissions (and check out my Emissions-LESS Eco-Habit post to learn more about why it’s important to reduce emissions in the first place):
Brick-and-Mortar shopping tips to reduce your emissions:
Carpool, walk, bike, or take alternative transportation when you shop.
Bulk your shopping errands together; you not only will be saving emissions, you also will be saving time, something we all need more of during the holidays!
Online shopping tips to reduce your emissions and waste from excess packaging:
Consolidate your orders so they can be delivered at the same time.
Ask for eco-friendly packaging.
Do not ask for same-day or next-day shipping. Check out the impacts of fast shipping in this interesting article.
Avoid impulsive spending by asking yourself, “Do I really need this?” before you click “add to cart.”
Re-think Wrapping Paper and Packaging
Another simple way to go Holiday Waste-LESS is to re-think wrapping paper. Did you know Americans spend more than $7 billion on wrapping paper each year!? When you wrap, consider re-using material you have around the house. You will be saving your green $$ while you go green! The backs of paper bags with a little twine and a sprig of evergreen make absolutely beautiful wrapping paper. Old maps, the comic strips of newspaper, and catalog magazines are also creative and colorful ways to wrap presents. Here are 25 more eco ideas on how to get creative with wrapping paper. Another simple idea is to “wrap” your presents in a reusable bag - it’s like two gifts in one! When you receive wrapped gifts, simply fold up the wrapping paper, tissue, gift bags, and ribbons to re-use for other gifts. And if you receive any gifts in cardboard boxes, after you’ve made some awesome forts with them, be sure to either re-use them by mailing your own gifts in them or at least recycle them. Close to 100 billion boxes are manufactured in the US every year so be sure to do your part. If you run out of boxes to re-use, you can purchase 100% recycled shipping boxes and use old newspaper or magazines as fillers.
Re-think Holiday Cards
One of my favorite simple ways to go Holiday Waste-LESS is to send e-cards instead of mailing paper cards. Can you believe the USPS will plan to deliver over 15 BILLION pieces of mail this Holiday season?! Almost 3 billion of those are Holiday cards, which wastes enough paper to fill a 10-story tall football field! That is not only a lot of paper, it’s a lot of emissions added to our atmosphere. Re-think the way you send Holiday cards by checking out some fun Holiday e-cards here. If you plan on mailing cards, an eco-friendly option is to buy Holiday cards made from 100% recycled paper. I love this company as they plant a tree with every order purchased.
Did you know in the time between Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we increase our waste production by over 25%, with an extra 1 million tons of waste added to our landfills each week?! Let’s do something about that by stepping back from the shopping craze and re-think gift giving by making your own gifts, giving an eco-friendly gift, giving an experience, or donating to a nonprofit in your recipient’s name.
DIY Gifts: Admittedly, I am not the craftiest girl around, but I have received so many fun, homemade gifts I treasure. Here are some clever ways to make your own eco-friendly gifts. My Green Friend Lauren’sf avorites include a peppermint lip balm, all natural room scents to make your home smell like the Holidays, and easy bath bombs. Check out 101 more eco-friendly DIY ideas for you to put you in the spirit.
Eco-Friendly Gifts:I totally understand that making gifts might not be for everyone, so here are some eco-friendly gifts to consider. A few of my favorite eco-friendly gifts from some of My Green Friends include re-usable water bottles and coffee cups like these from Klean Kanteen; these bags from LOVE Bags and MIXT Studio; and this waste-free cocktail kit from Ukonserve.
Experiential Gifts: Another idea is to consider givingexperiences instead of more “stuff.” Show your minimalistic side by purchasing movie tickets, concert tickets or even a National Park Pass!
Charitable Gifts: Instead of purchasing gifts at all, consider gifting your family members a donation in their name to your favorite non-profit. Patagonia just announced it is donating $10 million to Green Groups. Let’s follow Patagonia’s lead and give what we can to the amazing organizations working to make our earth a little better off. A few of my favs include: Grades of Green (of course, I am biased here since I co-founded this environmental education nonprofit which inspires and empowers youth to care for the environment); the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (as my main legal client, I can tell you they are doing incredibly impactful work to protect our planet and the people and wildlife on it); LA Waterkeeper, Heal the Bay, the Coalition for Clean Air, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and 5Gyres.
Here are a few easy ways to be gentle on the earth and still go all “Griswold family” when you decorate for the holidays:
Switch to solar lights or LED holiday lights to save 95-100% of your energy use.
Put your holiday lights on a timer so they aren’t on all night – save electricity andkeep your neighbors happy.
Wondering what kind of tree is the most eco-friendly? Check out this handy guide to help you navigate whether to go live or fake. Spoiler alert – living trees are the most sustainable, so consider renting or planting a live Christmas Tree. If you live in the Los Angeles area, look into The Living Christmas Tree- Scotty Claus is the best! If you buy a regular tree, be sure to recycle your tree when you are done with it. Most waste haulers have programs for recycling your tree curbside.
Instead of using artificial smells, consider eco-friendly methods to make your home smell like the Holidays.
Re-Think Holiday Travel
Thanks for Going Holiday Waste-LESS with me! I’d love to hear about how you’re going Waste-LESS this Holiday season so be sure to tag me @kim_ecohabits and #everydayecohabits. I can’t wait to continue our Everyday Eco-Habit journey in 2019.