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Will you have an eco-friendly holiday this year?
***To my lovely fiance: don’t read this until after Christmas***
It is easy to get wrapped up in the commercial and materialistic side of the holidays. Everyone wants to know what you want for Christmas, your children have a list a mile long, and you can’t seem to get away from the ever-increasing quantity of ads for holiday sales. This year, embrace what the holiday season is truly about: family, friends, and the purpose of whatever holiday you are celebrating.
Christmas is in 5 days and is the holiday my family celebrates, like so many others. This year as I approach it with new friends and while taking confirmation classes, I am stuck by the beauty of what this holiday celebrates. You don’t have to believe in God or Jesus to appreciate the idea of a celebration of joy, a celebration of the birth of someone who taught us to love others and not get wrapped up in material possessions.
That is the first step to an eco-friendly holiday. Reduce. Donating money, time, and gifts to charities. Spend time with your families.
Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts
I know that it is not feasible to go without gifts. Besides, I love giving presents to my loved ones. Especially when I buy gifts that are special and not just the latest thing from Target.
Will’s family always gives very practical gifts. For example, this year I will be getting hand towels from his grandma, and Will is getting maple syrup. His parents are getting items off of our wedding registry for us, like the spoon Will asked for. That’s right. He asked for a spoon for Christmas. That’s how you know I’m telling the truth. You can’t make that up.
Giving practical gifts is a great way to give a sustainable present. Why buy something they will get bored of or will be obsolete in a few years? My winter coat was a Christmas present a few years back, and I wear it every day. I’m giving Will a shaving kit that we can both use regularly. Practical gifts won’t collect dust in a corner. They will get used and they will save the recipient money if it is something they would have needed to buy anyway.
Buy from small and/or local business. Use your gift buying time as a chance to support the local economy and small businesses. By buying local, there is less transport involved which is always better for the environment. If you cannot find what you want locally, consider buying from a small online business. For example, many bloggers sell products they make from all natural ingredients, such as my friend at Scratch Mommy (affiliate link). Like with local businesses, supporting a small business will help encourage continuing production of high quality, natural products.
Make your own. This is easily the cheapest and most local option! You can make beauty products to give to friends, simple toys for children, or any number of simple gifts. It may seem silly, but some of my favorite gifts are the jewelry pieces and ceramic vases Will made for me. And he wears the mittens and hat I made for him ever day in the winter!
Wrap in newspaper. Or any other sustainable wrapping. Did you know that most wrapping paper is not recyclable? Think about the wrapping paper you see during the holiday season. That’s A LOT of paper going to the landfill. So this year consider making an effort to use an eco-friendly substitute. My favorite is newspaper. Nice boxes and bags that can be reused are another good option. You could even wrap in cloth! The Prairie Homestead has even more ideas for wrapping alternatives. And these wrappings don’t have to be unattractive. Beautify Your DIY is a book filled with gorgeous packing ideas for homemade gifts.
Eco-Friendly Holiday Parties
As I mentioned with the wrapping, holiday parties can get wasteful fast. This year, make an effort to reduce your impact at any holiday parties your throw or attend.
Use real dishes. Yes, this is a lot of work, but using real dishes over paper is so much better for the environment. At the very least, make an effort to use glasses over plastic water bottles (yuck). If you feel your must use disposable dishware, look into purchasing dishes that are compostable or made from recycled paper.
Don’t waste food. Prepare good quality foods and if there is any left, send some home with your guests. Don’t throw it away simply because there is too much or it isn’t good enough to save.
Compost. Compost everything that you can from your holiday party. This will reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill as well as provide you with all the benefits of compost for your garden. Win-win!
What are you doing to have an eco-friendly holiday this year?
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