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10 Tips For A Sustainable Christmas

As the holiday season approaches, it’s easy to get caught up in the festive atmosphere – twinkling lights, cozy hot cocoa, and joyful gatherings. But have you stopped to consider the environmental impact of our holiday traditions? From travel and gift-giving to decorating and feasting, our usual habits can lead to a significant increase in waste and carbon emissions. The good news is that making sustainable choices for Christmas doesn’t require a drastic overhaul – just a few simple swaps. With these 10 eco-friendly tips, you’ll be well on your way to a more environmentally conscious holiday season.

Stay Home

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As the holiday season approaches, millions of North Americans embark on journeys to visit loved ones, generating a significant amount of carbon emissions. In fact, tourism accounts for approximately 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This year, consider embracing an eco-friendly holiday by celebrating at home with family and friends. If travel is unavoidable, opt for more environmentally friendly alternatives like public transportation or offset your carbon footprint by calculating and donating to projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.

Avoid One-time Use Wrapping Paper

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One of the most significant ways to make your Christmas more sustainable is to rethink your gift wrapping approach. While brightly colored wrapping paper and gift bags may look appealing, they often have a negative impact on the environment. The reality is that most wrapping paper is not recyclable due to its composition, which typically includes plastic, glitter, or foil. In fact, an astonishing 200,000 miles of wrapping paper ends up in landfills each year. Moreover, even if the paper is recycled, it often winds up in a landfill anyway due to its thinness and high ink content.

Fortunately, there are numerous eco-friendly alternatives for wrapping gifts that can help minimize waste. You can reuse materials like newspaper, wallpaper, tissue paper, grocery bags, fabric, or old pillowcases to create unique and environmentally friendly wraps. Another creative approach is to wrap your gifts in another gift itself! Baskets, scarves, towels, and bins can all be used as wrapping materials, serving as a bonus present for the recipient while also reducing waste. Not only will you save money by avoiding traditional wrapping paper purchases, but you’ll also be caring for the planet by reusing existing materials.

Shop Small

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When it comes to having a sustainable Christmas, one of the most impactful decisions you can make is where you choose to do your holiday shopping. Opting for local businesses in your area not only benefits the environment but also the local economy. By reducing your reliance on large corporations, you’re minimizing the carbon footprint associated with shipping products across long distances. When you shop locally, small businesses often manufacture their own goods or have them delivered directly to their storefronts, eliminating the need for middlemen and their associated environmental impact.

Furthermore, shopping at local establishments typically means that residents are employed within those businesses, reducing the need for lengthy commutes and subsequent pollution. It’s a win-win scenario that benefits both your community and the planet. By supporting local entrepreneurs, you’re helping to create jobs and keep money within your area, rather than lining the pockets of distant corporations.

Another option is to explore the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) shop for one-of-a-kind gift ideas that align with your values.

Gift Experiences, Not Items

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Gift-giving doesn’t have to mean contributing to the environmental chaos of wrapping paper, packaging, and disposal. By opting for experiences over tangible presents, you’re not only reducing your ecological footprint but also providing a unique opportunity for meaningful memories with loved ones. Imagine gifting a chance to enjoy a sporting event, concert, or culinary adventure together – an unforgettable experience that won’t end up in a landfill. With experience gifts, you can cater to the receiver’s passions and interests, supporting local businesses along the way. Last year, did you receive any memorable experiences as gifts? Some popular options include museum visits, zoo excursions, cooking classes, or even tickets to your favorite show. The possibilities are endless, and so is the impact – a sustainable holiday season that prioritizes people over packages.

Switch to LED

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When considering replacement for your existing holiday lights, a simple yet impactful step towards a sustainable Christmas is to opt for energy-efficient LED alternatives. Unlike traditional bulbs, LEDs utilize light-emitting diodes, resulting in reduced energy consumption and minimal heat generation. This means you can expect a noticeable decrease in electricity usage upon making the switch. Furthermore, LED bulbs are more environmentally friendly than their standard counterparts, producing significantly less greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, they boast an impressive lifespan, lasting up to 50 times longer than traditional bulbs. This not only reduces waste but also saves you money on frequent replacements. Given these benefits, switching to LED lights is a practically foolproof decision when in the market for new holiday lighting.

Buy Local Food

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When it comes to planning your holiday dinner, consider the benefits of buying locally sourced ingredients from food markets in your area. Not only does this support the local community, but it also has a positive impact on the environment. By reducing ‘food miles,’ you’ll be cutting down on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and our reliance on fossil fuels. This festive season, make a conscious effort to opt for locally grown produce, which not only benefits the planet but also ensures that local farms continue to thrive. These same farms often serve as sanctuaries for various animal species and insects, providing a vital ecosystem service. Additionally, many local food producers tend to avoid using harmful pesticides and chemicals in their farming practices, knowing that their customers are invested in how their food is grown. By choosing locally sourced ingredients, you’ll not only be treating your taste buds but also contributing to a more sustainable future.

Get Creative

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To make this Christmas season more sustainable, consider getting creative with your gift-giving approach. One effective way to do so is by crafting homemade and DIY gifts that not only reduce waste but also provide a personal touch. With the wealth of information available online, you can easily find inspiration for making unique gifts like vegan candles, artisanal soaps, cozy blankets, stylish scarves, rejuvenating body scrubs, or even bespoke items tailored to your loved ones’ interests. Not only do homemade gifts align with environmental sustainability goals, but they also tend to be more budget-friendly and evoke a sense of warmth and connection that store-bought presents often can’t match. By opting for plastic-free, handmade alternatives to traditional gifts, you’ll not only reduce your ecological footprint but also cultivate meaningful relationships during the holiday season.

Buy Less

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For those who prefer not to go the DIY route, consider opting for a few thoughtful, big-ticket gifts instead of showering someone with multiple smaller presents. While it’s understandable that buying multiple small gifts can be tempting, this approach often leads to a cluttered environment and an increased likelihood of items being discarded sooner rather than later. By focusing on one or two meaningful, high-quality gifts, you’ll likely create just as much excitement, if not more, for the recipient.

Reduce Food Waste

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In Canada, staggering statistics reveal that we discard approximately 900 pounds of food per person annually, earning us a spot among the world’s most significant food wasters. The holiday season, characterized by grand feasts and gatherings, presents an opportune moment to reevaluate our consumption habits and minimize waste. By adopting eco-friendly practices during this time, we can collectively make a positive impact on the environment. Reducing food waste is an accessible means of celebrating a sustainable holiday season.

To begin your journey towards a more environmentally conscious festive period, consider forgoing single-use utensils, plates, napkins, and cups. Although the task of washing dishes may be inconvenient, the alternative – contributing to the accumulation of non-recyclable waste – is far more concerning. When procuring food for your holiday celebrations, aim to purchase only what you are confident you will consume. Should leftovers arise that you cannot utilize, consider sharing them with those in need or, if they have gone bad, composting them. By taking these simple steps, we can collectively contribute to a reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Reuse or Recycle Your Tree

While many assume that artificial Christmas trees are the more eco-friendly option due to their ability to be reused year after year, the truth is that buying real Christmas trees can actually be a more sustainable choice. One reason for this is that many artificial trees are shipped from China to North America, resulting in significant increases in carbon emissions. In contrast, real trees are often locally sourced and require less transportation. Additionally, most artificial trees are made of non-recyclable plastic, whereas real trees can be easily reused or recycled. Furthermore, buying real trees supports tree farms that maintain healthy forest habitats. To make your decision even more eco-friendly, opt for a locally grown tree to minimize transportation emissions. Once the holiday season is over, look for a local tree drop-off center where the trees are chipped and used as mulch. Alternatively, you can repurpose your real tree by using its needles as mulch, chopping it up for firewood, or getting creative with DIY projects like coasters. Whatever you choose to do with your tree, recycling or reusing it is a great way to end your sustainable holiday season.

Use These Tips for a Sustainable Christmas

As you prepare for the festive season, consider incorporating some eco-friendly ideas into your celebrations. One way to do this is by seeking out suggestions on how to make your holiday more sustainable. For instance, think about ways to reduce waste and minimize your environmental footprint during the holidays. This could include using reusable decorations, making conscious choices about gift-giving, or even planning a sustainable holiday meal. The key is to find creative ways to enjoy the season while also being mindful of your impact on the planet. By taking small steps towards sustainability, you can have a happy and eco-friendly Christmas without sacrificing any of the joy and magic that comes with it.