Earth-friendly holiday traditions

December 20, 2022

It’s crunch time!

Are you ready for the winter holidays and celebrations? They are tons of fun, but they leave behind a lot of extra trash — from celebratory dinner leftovers to gift wrap and boxes to New Year’s Eve decorations. We love to enjoy the season with friends and family: the parties, the gift-giving, and the holiday greeting cards.

Throughout the merriment, we can take better care of our earth during the holiday season and, at the same time, add even more fun.

Here are some ideas for decreasing trash and making the best holiday memories yet!

Decorating and Party Planning

  • If you haven’t made the switch yet, use LED lights for outside and inside decorating. They are 90% more efficient than other bulbs and will save money. They also last longer during the months of storage between holiday seasons, and they don’t get hot, so they are safer.
  • Decorate a tree in your yard or neighborhood for the birds. Hang seed bells, suet blocks, and pine cones covered in peanut butter and birdseed. Be sure to use a variety of wild bird seed, black oil sunflower seeds, and thistle. Then gather with your family to watch the varieties of birds that visit.
  • Bring in the outside to decorate inside. Use strings of cranberries and popcorn to decorate mantles and trees. Bring in garlands of greenery from your own trees or a local nursery. They will add fresh smells and pretty colors to your home.
  • Decorate your party table with seasonal plants that you can send home with guests as a gift.
  • Be sure to place well-marked recycling containers to collect bottles and cans near trash cans and close to the food and drink tables.
  • Instead of using single-use paper and plastic plates and serving products, use your party as an excuse to get out the fancy dishes and silverware. If your family doesn’t own enough to serve all the guests, ask a neighbor or family member if you can borrow some. Setting the table with different types of plates and glasses can be fun and trendy.
  • Share leftover food with your guests, sending them home with filled reusable containers.

Giving and Receiving

  • When thinking about giving and asking for gifts, think about things that don’t require wrapping, like classes and experiences. How about a tap-dancing class or music or art lessons? What about fun experiences, like movie or museum tickets?
  • Look for “frustration-free” packaging when ordering online. Items will arrive with no wires, ties, or hard-to-remove plastic, which means less trash. While you are ordering, select an option for multiple orders to be shipped together on one day. This results in fewer boxes to recycle and fewer delivery trucks in your neighborhood.
  • If you choose to wrap gifts, consider clever, reusable materials instead of traditional wrapping paper. For example, you might use the Sunday Comics pages, coloring book pages, old maps, stenciled brown paper and twine, cloth napkins and placemats, kitchen towels, or even scarves. Purchased gift bags are an alternative that can be stored and reused year after year.
  • When you receive new items, donate the old ones you are replacing instead of throwing them into the trash. Trying some of these new holiday habits will create good memories and help take care of our earth.

For more ideas, visit these websites:

Image credit: ArtistGNDphotography | E+ | Getty Images