What’s your approach to the holidays? Did you hit the stores on Thanksgiving/Black Friday to take advantage of the sales? Do your Christmas lights rival Clark Griswald’s lights in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Or, do you stuff a few envelopes with money and call it a day?
Whatever your approach, I hope you’re able to incorporate environmentally-friendly ways of celebrating this holiday season. It’s great to be a good steward of our planet but it’s also really easy to do and it can save you money. What’s not to like about that?
1. Re-gift or donate unwanted gifts. Just be sure to remove the name tag first!
2. Consider giving experiences versus material goods. Tickets to a concert, sporting event, or even skydiving are super fun and unique gifts sure to please!
3. Use handmade decorations in your home and on your tree. Stringed popcorn, paper chains, gingerbread cookies, pine cones, and acorns all look very festive and won’t break the bank. Forgo plastic in favor of organic materials like cotton, burlap, and silk. A quick Pinterest search will produce more ideas than you ever thought possible!
4. Use LED lights for decorating. They’re 90% more efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent option.
5. Give your thermostat a rest. Turn it down at night and snuggle up under warm blankets!
6. Shop locally. You’ll spend less time on the road and less money in gas. Plus, supporting local shop owners is way cooler than spending your money at the big box stores.
7. When opting for an artificial tree, choose one that will last so you can use it year after year. If you prefer a real tree, buy a live, potted tree you can later plant in your own yard. No yard? Be sure to recycle a fresh-cut tree when the holidays have come and gone. You can also always flex your creative muscle and make your own tree.
8. Use materials you already have on hand (newspaper, aluminum foil, paper bags, and even old scarves and tablecloths). You can now buy recycled gift wrap for gift wrap alternatives.
9. Plan your holiday meals ahead of time so you don’t make too much (and ultimately have to trash any leftovers). Or, if you do have leftovers, learn how to safely save and use them for future meals.
10. When grocery shopping, use reusable bags versus plastic.
11. Consider creating a “giving circle” with your loved ones. Agree to give a certain amount to each friend’s favorite cause or charity versus giving a material gift to one another. This is the perfect gift for the person who has everything!
12. Use timers for all holiday lights. Remembering to turn off the lights when you leave the house or go to sleep is a hassle. This way, you won’t have to worry about forgetting. Plus, you will save money on your electricity bill.
13. Skip disposable dishes and instead use real dishes. If you’re feeling fancy, break out that china that’s been collecting dust!
14. When cleaning up after the big meals, only run the dishwasher when it is full in order to conserve water and Hand washing large pots and pans is best.
15. Combine holiday shopping trips to get it all done in one fell swoop. If you have children, create a babysitting circle with neighbors and friends so that each of you has an opportunity to shop kid-free over the next few weeks.
16. Create handmade gifts (crafts, food, and promise notes for future favors). These always speak closest to the heart.
17. Recycle, recycle, recycle! Take a few extra minutes to separate your recyclables when cleaning up after the festivities. It’ll be your gift to Mother Earth.
18. Give gift certificates or cash to cut down on packaging.
19. Give battery-free gifts. If battery-powered gifts are a must, include rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones.
20. Compost your food peelings when cooking. If you don’t space for your own, here’s a free directory for finding the nearest community composter.
21. If you love the holiday-inspired scents, skip paraffin-based candles that emit toxic chemicals and buy soy candles instead. Also, try simmering a stick of cinnamon on your stovetop.
22. Buy drinks in large containers versus individual-sized versions.
23. Keep your curtains closed to trap heat inside (and save money).
24. Defrost your freezer before cooking your holiday meal. It will operate more efficiently and provide more room for storage.
25. Set the tone for the New Year by giving eco-friendly gifts.
Remember, the holiday season is about spending quality time with family and friends. Keep things simple, go green whenever you can, and just enjoy yourself. Happy Holidays, y’all!