The holiday season. It is finally upon us… but it looks a little different this year. Many of us, myself included, are separated from our families. I, for instance, am in Chicago while my family is in much warmer parts of the country. This holiday season feels different than others. I think I’ve been looking forward to it much more than I usually do too.
The time from Thanksgiving to New Years is always filled with so much hope and love. I think we all need a little bit more of that this year. I have even broke my family tradition of only listening to Christmas music post Thanksgiving. I watched Dash & Lily today on Netflix, which omg cheesy but cute teenage romance (also the Jonas Brothers are in it?? and I love Joe so…) and am writing this while listening to Christmas music and sitting next to a candle (kind of like a fireplace right?) while it is completely dark at 5 pm.
Starting to feel like the holidays.
I think I may even try to decorate my small little house this week.
I, like so many others, are not with my family this holiday to protect them and myself and others from the horrors of Coronavirus. This holiday season should really be spent looking out for others and being selfless.
Being selfless also includes putting the planet’s interests above your own. (You knew this was coming right? I gotta input my sustainable knowledge at some point…) I have complied a little list about ways that you can be sustainable this year! Whether it be through Christmas cards, gift wrap, decorations, or holiday meals.
The holiday season is a time to give back to others, a time to show them how much the mean to you, a time to be kind to strangers. Be kind to the planet too.
(As per usual, I am not being paid for recommending any of these companies, products, or ideas. I am sharing them of my own volition and belief in a commitment to a sustainable future)
Sustainable Christmas Cards:
To start off this list, I thought I would share a really cool shop that I was recently introduced to: Paper Culture.
This organization is really cool. For every purchase you make, they plant a tree.
They’ve planted over 1 MILLION trees. Insane. They have a done of cute designs for the holiday season and beyond. This a great alternative to other Christmas card companies as it actively works to mitigate climate change.
Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is such a large problem in the developed world. And it just sky rockets around holidays. People always make more than what they will eat and often times just toss it, instead of saving it as left overs or making less food.
To make sure you don’t just end up throwing away your left overs, freeze them! They will keep a lot longer and there’s a good chance you’ll come back to it. You can also make sure you eat what you have before getting new food or ordering in. Use what you have before you get more. You can also find new recipes to repurpose your left overs.
Compost the stuff you can’t eat! Composting is such a great way to reduce food waste and give back to the Earth. I got my mom a composter for the holidays last year, and while it wasn’t quite what we needed, she ended up composting in her garden bed. You don’t need your own compost box or garden though. You can store your food scraps in the freezer, and when you are ready to get rid of them, find a local compost collection site near you!
Eat Less Meat
I think we can all agree that Turkey definitely does not live up to the hype. So why eat it?
This year, try eating less meat. Make more vegetable dishes and sides. Eating less meat is such a huge thing that you can do for the environment and to reduce climate change on an individual level.
Travel Better or Not at All
This year might be easier than others to not travel across the country with Corona and all, but emissions from planes and cars around the holidays are so detrimental to the planet.
You really shouldn’t be traveling this year ( I mean Illinois just went under another statewide stay at home order), but if you must, try keeping these ideas in mind.
Travel less often. Instead of driving or fly across country for Christmas and Thanksgiving, pick one. Or stay home every other year. This would help a lot with carbon emissions.
Take a bus or a train instead of flying. This is much less convenient, but convenient rarely means good for the planet.
You can also buy carbon offsets. This supports companies and projects that are working to reduce carbon emissions. I bought one for my mom last Christmas in fact. I funded the planting of trees, clean water initiatives, and several other projects.
Stop the Black Friday Frenzy
Black Friday is a global nightmare. We buy stuff that destroys the planet just because it’s cheap. This year, try to avoid the pull of consumer culture. Buy from sustainable brands if you must, or thrift, or make your own gifts!
You could also chose to give experience gifts. These gifts are very cool and are a great gift for a year when we didn’t get to do anything. You can buy a voucher to many places that the recipient gets to redeem when it is safe to do so. You aren’t contributing to consumer culture and are giving a fun and personal gift. Experience gifts can be anything from wine tastings, to movie tickets, to a coupon for a dinner with you!
Sustainable Gift Wrap? Yes Please!
Wrapping is known to be horrific for the planet. So, what can we do?
Repurpose old newspapers or paper shopping bags. Use plain, brown, recyclable paper instead of the glossy stuff that can’t be recycled. Decorate with twine and pine and berries. Be natural this year. Sustainability is in.
In addition to natural wrappings, try natural decorations. If you need to buy new decorations, and can’t reuse what you have from previous years (which is always the best), try being more natural.
Get a real tree, something that can be composted and returned to the earth, instead of a fake tree made from petroleum. If you must have a fake tree, make sure it is one you can use forever.
Reducing waste is incredibly important. If you use natural decorations, like real garland or a wooden reindeer, or you make your own, try to find things that can be reused, if it can’t be composted. This is will not only reduce your holiday costs, but reduce your footprint this holiday season as well.
This list is far from exhaustive, but I hope it will push you in the right direction.
Enjoy this holiday, even if you aren’t with your loved ones. Make do with what you have. Find the joy in this situation. Light your candles, dance around to whatever music you like the most, and eat as many cookies as it takes.
I, for one, am going to go spin around to Step into Christmas by my love Sir Elton John.
Happy Holidays from me and mine to you and yours, wherever you all may be this year.