As the Holidays near, many of us are buzzing with the anticipation of spending time with family and friends, giving gifts, and being merry. During the holiday season, people try to spread some holiday cheer to those less fortunate than themselves - naturally then, with all the goodwill that is present in December, you might find yourself taking into consideration the environmental cost of your favorite time of year. And since we've all become far more conscious of how we can care for our planet, we've come up with some tips on how you can have a more sustainable Christmas.
Along with the celebration, the festive season is a time of mass consumption, which is unfortunately not the most eco-friendly time of year. We accumulate a lot of waste during the Holidays, and one of the biggest problems is that a lot of it isn't recyclable; whether it is food waste, disposable packaging, unwanted gifts, or even the energy used to heat our homes, our carbon footprint during the Holidays can quite easily skyrocket.
In contrast to the goodwill feels of Christmas, a 2014 study  found that 11$ billion worth of packaging was discarded around the holiday period along with enough aluminum in landfills to build 25,000 jet planes. There's also stuff we can't see: the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) calculated that just from decorations lights alone, the US used enough energy to power 14 million refrigerators in just a couple of months. That's more than some countries electricity consumption in a whole year!
All hope isn't lost, however, as it's becoming increasingly easier to identify the areas we can be more sustainable in, meaning you can do your bit and enjoy a guilt-free Christmas. Because despite the harsh statistics, it's clear that the awareness of what we can do to cut down the environmental costs of the festive season is growing. Living more sustainably isn't just for one season, sustainability benefits the world but it also helps our health and wellbeing.
Take a look below at what you can do this Christmas to be more sustainable.
If we're going to be sharing gifts this year, why not choose a more sustainable option to wrap your gifts in? There are plenty of options that won't even require a trip to the shop! What's the betting that you already have some wrapping paper lying around somewhere, which could just be re-used (if you don't mind that it might not be Christmas-themed). You could also repurpose the wrapping that your gifts come in, and add a sticker, ribbon, or string tie, or whatever you've got at hand for a more personal touch.
Let's face it, some of us possess great gift-wrapping skills, and some of us opt for gift bags. There's no in-between.
If you're a fancy wrapping kind of person, and the waste caused by all the excess wrapping paper concerns you then why not try some sustainable alternatives?
What are my options?
Opt for recycled wrapping paper
Get your green on with eco-friendly tissue paper
Ditch the plastic-coated ribbon and use some string you've got lying around
Repurpose some old fabric for a reusable gift wrap vibe
Share a gift that requires no packaging at all!
There's been a recent surge in thrifting athleisure and streetwear essentials for our new wardrobe but have you ever thought about heading down to your local second-hand stores for gift ideas?
You'd be surprised what you can actually find second-hand when you put commit to the digging. For home decor, furnishings, vintage clothing, tools, and gadgets - eBay, re-seller apps, and thrift stores will be your new best friends.
If you're looking for something special with a unique charm to it, or if your giftee is fond of one-of-a-kind pieces then head up to a vintage store or flea market. You can find beautiful items at a fraction of the usual cost, and it's more sustainable than buying new, and if you're lucky you can find something with the tags still on!
You've heard the saying "eyes bigger than your belly" right? and you've most likely experienced Christmases where you don't eat anywhere near the amount that you put on your plate. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, American's waste an extra 5 million pounds of food  on top of the already 40 million pounds of food that reaches the landfills each year .
There are a few ways we can attempt to curve these statistics, the first one being to not go overboard with our festive food shopping. We know this is a time for indulging, but could we perhaps consider whether you actually need all that food in the basket? Sticking to a shopping list is key here!
Say you do end up with way too much food during the holidays, there are plenty of ways to reduce any food waste; you can send your guests off with a goodie bag, make the tastiest next-day sandwiches with the leftover meat and sides, and how about the dogs? We're sure they'd appreciate some homemade munchies.
Alternatively, why not try going plant-based this Christmas to help the environment, and your wellbeing. Keep your eyes peeled for some Vegan Xmas Meal recipes, with all the trimmings coming soon.
It's time to get your creative juices flowing!
Hand-made gifts are high on the agenda this year - with the distance we've endured between friends and family for the last two years, a hand-made gift might just provide the personal touch that you've been missing. Getting in tune with your creative side and getting crafty is not only fun but can also save you alotta dollar.
How about bringing out your inner chemist and experimenting with making some handmade soaps or infused oils? Or if you're good with your hands why not get practical with some woodwork, or get messy creating with a make-your-own pottery kit. With the days only becoming colder, we're sure someone would appreciate a hand-knitted scarf, jumper, a pair of socks, or even a blanket. And for those more inclined to all things arty how about grabbing a canvas and trying your hand at painting someone something beautiful (or not).
Alternatively, if you're a plant mom or dad, propagating one of your plants would make the perfect gift for someone's home!
Support Local Sellers
You might not have to look far to find a great gift for your loved one, local sellers are often a great option for gifting.
Not sure where to start looking? A way of finding local craftsmen (and women) is heading online and checking out what crafty bits you can get close to you, try going to Etsy or eBay where you can filter by distance and see what sellers are near you! It might be tempting to do a big supermarket sweep for your festive food needs, but have you thought about heading down to the farmer's market? For fresh, quality produce, and organic food this is the place to be.
Shopping local not only reduces the carbon footprint of gifts, (especially if you're ordering online) but also supports small businesses and the community.
Get Smart With Your Lighting
Whether you go subtle or all-out, decorations really are the icing on top of the cake at Christmas. The soft hues from our Christmas tree lights and fairy lights dotted around the home really add to the warmth and ambiance of the festive season. But we're sure what hasn't passed your mind is the expense of these decorative lights on your electricity bills. The stats are in and during Christmas, the USA alone uses more electricity than some countries use in an entire year !
This doesn't mean we have to sit in the dark this Christmas and have a bare Christmas tree, we can just opt for more sustainable lighting options. LED lights use far less energy than traditional decoration lighting, and for an even more eco-friendly option, you could use solar panelled lights to twinkle in your rooms
It's truly mind-blowing what impact humans can have on the planet in just one day, but it doesn't have to be so damaging. Take a leaf out of the sustainability book to enjoy a more caring Christmas, for those around us and the environment.
“An after Christmas Story: Tips for Reducing, Reusing, Recycling Holiday Trash.” CFAES, 2014, https://cfaes.osu.edu/faculty-staff-resources/cfaes-monthly/archives/tips-for-reducing-reusing-recycling-holiday-trash.
 Staff, AOL. “This Is How Much Food Americans Waste during the Holidays.” Click Here to Refresh, 29 Nov. 2016, https://www.aol.com/article/lifestyle/2016/11/29/this-is-how-much-food-americans-waste-during-the-holidays/21616627.
 “EPA Encourages Americans to Avoid Food Waste over the Holidays.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 25 Nov. 2020, https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-encourages-americans-avoid-food-waste-over-holidays_.html.
Atansah, Todd Moss and Priscilla. “US Holiday Lights Use More Electricity than El Salvador Does in a Year.” Center For Global Development, 13 Oct. 2021, https://www.cgdev.org/blog/us-holiday-lights-use-more-electricity-el-salvador-does-year.